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Ohio State’s defensive tune-up will be a group effort from the new coaching staff

After inheriting a defense that struggled in 2018, the four new assistant defensive coaches will collaborate to set the Buckeye defense up for success in 2019.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Michigan vs South Carolina Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“Running the defense, I’m very excited about the fact that there will be co-coordinators. The last time I was a co-coordinator, we were fortunate enough to win the national championship at Florida.”

Ohio State defensive co-coordinator Greg Mattison via Austin Ward, Letterman Row

After a year in which Ohio State struggled mightily on defense, the Buckeyes have brought in four new assistant coaches on the defensive side of the football. Ohio State gave up at least 30 points in four games this year. The Buckeyes looked completely overmatched and unprepared against Purdue, where they are gave up 49 points in an embarrassing loss. Ohio State also looked lost in a 52-51 overtime win against Maryland.

Gone are co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and Alex Grinch, linebackers coach Bill Davis, and cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson. Not only did head coach Ryan Day poach his new co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison from Michigan, but Day was also able to lure linebackers coach Al Washington from Ann Arbor to Columbus. Joining the two former Michigan assistants are co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley and Matt Barnes, who will assist Hafley as secondary coach.

The new group of defensive coaches sound more open to changing up their schemes to fit their personnel, which is a change from last year’s coaching staff. The insistence of Schiano and the defensive coaching staff to stick with schemes that weren’t working last year despite the collection of defensive talent Ohio State had was the most frustrating part of the 2018 season.

What will help the defensive coaching staff this season is they can learn from the mistakes of last year. The new coaches won’t bash what the coaches last year did and won’t say they have to “fix” anything, but they know Ohio State has to be better on defense if they want to make the College Football Playoff this year. The Buckeyes have too much talent on defense to play as bad as they did in 2018, and the openness of this year’s coaching staff to try new things should help Ohio State rebound on defense this season.

It’s not very often that true freshman get a lot of playing time for Ohio State, but when they do they seem to make a big impact. Marcus Hartman of the Dayton Daily News broke down his top 10 true freshman to play for Ohio State since 1990, and there are some really big names on the list.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who tops the list of true freshman to play at Ohio State since 1990. Running back Maurice Clarett only played at Ohio State for one season, but he certainly made a mark in his short time in the scarlet and gray. Not only did Clarett break Robert Smith’s freshman rushing record (which has since been broken by J.K. Dobbins, who came in seventh on the list), but he was also the catalyst for the national title run by the Buckeyes in 2002.

Following Clarett on the list is linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, who is just one of three defensive players to make the list. Katzenmoyer recorded 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and four interceptions in his first season at Ohio State. The other defensive players on the list were defensive ends Joey Bosa, who ranked eighth on the list, and Cameron Heyward, who was deemed the 10th best Buckeye true freshman since 1990.

Offense dominates the rest of the list, with Ted Ginn Jr. taking the next spot behind Clarett and Katzenmoyer. The wide receiver was one of the few bright spots in a 2004 season that saw Ohio State post an 8-4 record. A pair of quarterbacks sandwiched pancake block specialist Orlando Pace, who was fifth on the list. Terrelle Pryor took the fourth spot after taking over at quarterback early in the 2008 season, while Braxton Miller put up similar numbers in 2011 after taking over for Pryor. Wide receiver David Boston closes out the offensive players on the list in ninth after his first season in Columbus finished with a Rose Bowl win over Arizona State.

“I think we might’ve gotten a little bit complacent and thinking about the future too much. I think this week we kind of woke up and realized that we have to go one challenge at a time.”

Ohio State hockey defenseman Matt Miller via Michael Benzinger, The Lantern

After rolling for much of the season, Ohio State’s men’s hockey team suffered a setback last weekend when they dropped a pair of games to Minnesota 4-3. The back-to-back losses were the first set of consecutive losses for the Buckeyes, who fell from No. 2 to No. 6 in the USCHO polls.

Ohio State will try and get back on the winning track this weekend when they travel to Ann Arbor for a pair of games against Michigan. The teams split the two games they played in Columbus last month, with Michigan winning the opener 2-1, followed by Ohio State rebounding the next night for a 4-2 win. While the Wolverines are ranked fourth in the Big Ten standings, Michigan hasn’t won or lost more than two games in a row since Jan. 5.

While the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan is always heated no matter the sport, this weekend’s games take on an added significance for the Buckeyes. With a win against the Wolverines, Ohio State will clinch the Big Ten regular season title. The odds are in Ohio State’s favor, as the Buckeyes have not only won five road games in a row in conference play, but they also have won three of their last four games in Ann Arbor. Following this weekend’s games against Michigan, the Buckeyes will close out their regular season schedule next weekend at home against Michigan State.