Foster Outschemes Tom Herman…But, Just Barely
This was a masterful gameplan by Bud Foster. Bud went into this game fully understanding that his secondary is the strength of his defense and would match up well in man to man coverage against a Buckeye receiving corps that, while talented, lacked an elite playmaker that could beat the Hokies by himself. He further realized that his down linemen had the speed and athletic advantage over the Buckeye offensive line. The offensive line for Ohio State has size, for certain, but would they have the technique and the strength to beat Bud’s group of seasoned performers? Even the linebacking corps, which received some criticism in the first game (unfairly, I might add) was going to be a strength in this game as Bud had already decided he would scheme for those guys to do what they do best: blitz the quarterback and use their speed and athleticism to contain the Ohio State rushing attack. Bud would unveil a gameplan that would allow his linebackers (and Ken Ekanem) to play in space and would rely heavily on the stronger, more experienced players like Maddy, Marshall, and Nicolas to occupy the blockers along the line of scrimmage and beat double teams.
Bud came out of the gate with a Double Eagle alignment along the defensive front with “46” tendencies, depending on the personnel package deployed by the Buckeyes. The 46 deployment allowed Deon Clarke to exclusively rush the passer and run blitz, and relied heavily on Kyshoen Jarrett to play a hybrid linebacker role with extensive coverage responsibilities.
The Double Eagle alignment along the front is based on Luther Maddy as the bell cow of the defense. With his size, speed and strength, Bud knew Maddy would be able to wreak havoc at the 0 technique in this game. Luther was asked to occupy and beat double teams all game, which he did. Foster also positioned Deon Clarke and Ken Ekanem in this game to line up at either the 5 or the 7 technique and blitz on every down. In addition to pass rushing responsibilities, those outside rushers also had to play assignment football on the option and prevent big plays.
And finally, in this defensive formation, the secondary would be lined up in man coverage all game long. Because Ohio State deploys spread formations, the nickel back was going to be an important part of the defense. This means Foster was trusting a young, unproven player in Chuck Clark to hold up against a talented team in his first real test.
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