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Ohio State’s defense has been focusing on scoring defensively, and it’s working

The Buckeyes defense is scoring at a historic rate.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

“The offensive call in the defensive playbook fits on just one page.”

- Austin Ward, ESPN.com

You might have noticed this season that Ohio State’s defense has been pretty great so far. There were widespread expectations around the country for the Buckeyes to be experiencing growing pains on both sides of the ball, but especially defense, where the Buckeyes lost eight (!) starters. Somebody that was watching the Buckeyes this year for the first time might not recognize such a turnover, because they’ve been that good. But part of what’s made them so great is the turnovers, which to be fair, plenty of teams are good at. But the Buckeyes have been able to take those a step further, and capitalize immediately.

They’ve been working especially hard on what happens on the change of possession. As ESPN’s Austin Ward documents, it’s simply called “Sideline Return.” The name is pretty simple, just like the play. Get towards the sideline, and return the interception for a touchdown. Obviously that’s every team’s goal, but the Buckeyes have been doing it better than anybody else this season. According to Ward, they’ve tied the single-season school record by taking four turnovers back for scores in three games. To expect the Buckeyes to keep rolling at that clip isn’t realistic, but you have to believe the momentum that has been built up there helps. There’s no doubting that they truly believe every time they create a turnover, they’ll score and stay on the field for the next possession.

“Jantel Lavender, the former Cleveland Central Catholic and Ohio State basketball standout, today was named the 2016 WNBA Sixth Women of the Year.”

- Plain Dealer Sports, Northeast Ohio Media Group

Former Ohio State women’s basketball standout Jantel Lavender was on the receiving end of one of the better awards given out in professional basketball on Wednesday. The WNBA announced that the Los Angeles Sparks star was the league’s 2016 Sixth Woman of the the Year. This was her second season coming off of the bench, after starting at center for two seasons prior.

In 34 games this season, Lavender poured in 9.6 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench, helping lead the Sparks to a 26-8 record, good enough for the No. 2 seed in the WNBA playoffs. Out of 29 sportswriters and broadcasters who had votes, Lavender received 26 of them. Lavender beat out Aerial Powers and Allie Quigley for the award, who tied for second place after splitting 6 votes at three apiece. It should come as no surprise that a Buckeye is having great success at the professional ranks, and Lavender has undoubtedly held her own.

“I think we can win all the rest of the games.”

- Terrelle Pryor, via Conor Orr, NFL.com

That’s a very bold statement from former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor has been one of the more interesting stories in the NFL this year, as his transition to wide receiver has been pretty successful through the Browns’ first three games. This past Sunday he did a little bit of everything with 144 receiving yards, 21 rushing yards, 35 passing yards, and a touchdown. He was the first player since the 1980s to have 2 receptions, 2 rushing attempts, and 2 completions in a game. His resurgence on the gridiron has been very fun to watch, despite the Browns’ shortcomings.

This week, Pryor told the media that he felt that the Browns were close to “getting over that hump” He added that once they do, he feels that they could have a lot of success. So much, that he feels that they could win out. Surely this comes from a newfound confidence that the former Buckeye has from playing so well this season, but if we’re being realistic, nobody really expects the Browns to win out this season. They’ve had plenty of trouble staying healthy through the first three games, in which they’ve played three different quarterbacks. At that pace, we could see Pryor line up behind center, although he’s been too valuable at wideout so far to start considering that.

“The best punter in America is getting better.”

- Bill Landis, Northeast Ohio Media Group

Landis is, of course, speaking about Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston. Johnston has been one of the best punters in the nation since he stepped on the gridiron. He was up for Ray Guy Award consideration all of last season, before ultimately losing out to Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky. What makes Johnston so good, is that he’s pretty much a perfectionist. Landis notes that Johnston is still torn up over a punt from two years ago against Kent State in a 66-0 win. That’s crazy! The punt went 28 yards from the line of scrimmage, and despite it having no effect on the game at all, he wasn’t happy about it. He has wanted to eliminate all bad punts since then, and has pretty much done so.

Johnston is second in the country right now in average punting yardage at 50.6 per kick according to Landis, with the Buckeyes second in the nation in net punting. This year, he’s used the boot 11 times, with eight of his punts being downed inside the 20. Giving the young Ohio State defense all that room to work has been a huge help this season, and they’ve likely grown from the slack Johnston has given them. It especially helped against Oklahoma, a game that was pretty dang complete in all three phases of the game. Hopefully for Johnston, this is the year he gets his Ray Guy Award. He’s put together a good resume thus far.

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