A few quick notes that sum up Ohio State’s defensive domination through the first two weeks of 2016:
- The Silver Bullets are now 120 minutes into the season and have still not allowed a touchdown.
- With three pick-sixes on the season already, the Ohio State defense has outscored Bowling Green and Tulsa 18 to 6.
- Malik Hooker is tied for first in the country with three interceptions.
- Ohio State is yet to allow a pass over 20 yards — they have four interceptions with returns longer than 20 yards.
- Opposing quarterbacks are a combined 36 for 76 (47 percent) for 302 yards, which amounts to less than four yards per pass attempt.
- Ohio State has allowed 145 rushing yards on 64 attempts, good for 2.26 yards per attempt.
So yeah, the defense has looked pretty okay thus far against two of 2015’s top-25 scoring offenses. This past Saturday was highlighted by an absurd six-takeaways, a lock-down secondary and the first Nick Bosa shrug.
And STILL the undisputed ball-hawking champion of college football: Malik Hooker
After snagging two interceptions in Week 1 against Bowling Green, Hooker added a third while also becoming a member of #Zone6.
Tulsa motioned their bottom receiver into a stacked position at the snap, and Hooker has his eyes locked onto the quarterback. He is lined up just 10 yards off the ball, a fairly ridiculous position considering he is responsible for any deep routes to the middle of the field, but this is the benefit of having a safety with Hooker’s range.
Hooker never takes his eyes off the quarterback as he fades towards the middle of the field, but he plants his foot and breaks towards the expected ball point once he determines the quarterback is about to throw. Meanwhile, the Tulsa receiver who is about to be targeted has rounded off his route and doesn’t seem to expect Hooker (still on the opposite hash at this point) to have a chance at the ball. Turns out, the ball was Hooker’s all along:
Hooker displayed similarly spectacular range last week on his tip-drill interception, and is truly making the middle of the Buckeyes’ defense an intimidating spot to ever throw the football. If there was anything to nitpick about Hooker’s game it would have to be his sub-par celebrations. Vonn Bell used to lose his mind over a pass deflection, yet Hooker caps off a pick-six by aimlessly walking into a bunch of students. At least he didn’t celebrate the quarterback dropping the ball mid-throw.
Tyquan Lewis is still very good
After leading the Buckeyes in sacks in 2015, Lewis picked up his first of 2016 in style by also forcing a fumble. On third-down Ohio State displayed their new version of their “Rushmen” package which consists of getting their best pass rushers all on the field at the same time. Last year this consisted of Joey Bosa moving from defensive end to defensive tackle to get Sam Hubbard on the field, but this year it means subbing in defensive end Jalyn Holmes for defensive tackle Michael Hill. The results have been promising thus far:
Lewis is simply too quick and talented for the Tulsa offensive tackle and he gets to the quarterback with ease. Jerome Baker proved that he is also capable of using both hands on the football field by scooping up the fumble. The Ohio State pass rush has looked good so far this year and hasn’t needed to rely on many blitzes to get pressure. We’ll see if this is still the case against Oklahoma this Saturday.
Marshon Lattimore knows what to do with the ball in his hands
An interesting decision to pass the ball in a monsoon with 33 seconds to go in the first half turned fateful quickly for Tulsa. Lattimore had two interceptions on the day, and while both were more a result of him being in the right place at the right time, his skills as a runner were on full display Saturday afternoon:
He had plenty of help along the way (including a Hooker pancake on a 300+ pound offensive guard — wow), but this touchdown was still huge as it put Ohio state up 17 going into the half. Lattimore has performed great thus far as Ohio State’s new No. 2 cornerback, but proved Saturday that he can be a difference maker as well. Last season showed how dangerous the Buckeyes’ defense can be with two lock-down corners, and so far in 2016 it appears to be much of the same story.
The final: 48-3 Ohio State
Defensive player of the game: Marshon Lattimore
Defensive play of the game: Marshon Lattimore pick-six + Malik Hooker block
Next victim: Oklahoma. See you all next week.