The Ohio State Buckeyes are going to be playing the 0-2 Tulsa Golden Hurricanes and not only has Tulsa not been able to get a win this season, but one of their losses was actually against an FCS opponent. Ohio State is favored by more than three touchdowns and although no opponent should be taken lightly, especially with how poorly the defense has been playing, Tulsa should definitely be considered a tune-up game.
The Buckeye defense has been far from productive and they need answers. Ohio State has been killing it on the recruiting trail the past few years and we know that some of these players are great and just need an opportunity. As former Buckeye head coach, John Cooper once said, “If a dog is going to bite, he’s going to bite as a pup.”
With that said let’s name some players that need to be given more snaps against Tulsa to see if they can “bite.”
I am not saying that the answer to all of the defensive woes will come out against Tulsa, but proving more time and experimenting with what you have should make some things more clear.
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Jack Sawyer (33) rests between reps during football training camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
On the defensive line, the first name that comes to mind is Jack Sawyer. We all saw what Sawyer was capable of during the spring and he was only given three snaps against Oregon
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman JT Tuimoloau runs with the ball during football training camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, another player that needs more snaps is another fantastic freshman in J.T. Tuimoloau, and not just at defensive end. The coaching staff could get created and Tuimoloau could see time on the interior as well.
Senior K’Vaughan Pope could play strongside linebacker if Ohio State continues to predominantly use a 4-3 formation. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
K’Vaughn Pope is a player that I thought had All-Big Ten potential, but he only received seven snaps against Oregon. Pope is a bit of a wild-card and is out of position more often than not, but you can say that about practically every linebacker right now. What makes Pope intriguing is that he may be in the wrong spot, but he is extremely active and moves with a purpose and that is the kind of player that can provide a needed spark.
Nov 7, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Steele Chambers (22) runs the fake punt for a long first down during the second quarter against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Steele Chambers is another interesting player. He made the transition from running back to linebacker in the spring, so the trepidation to play him makes sense. But we are to the point that pure athleticism and active effort may outweigh knowledge of the playbook and technique.
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Sevyn Banks (7) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2021 CFP National Championship Game. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Cameron Brown is currently the best corner on the team and Denzel Burke has played admirably for a freshman, but we need Sevyn Banks to show up. Banks had first-round hype coming into the season, was a little banged up to start the year, but for reasons unknown did not see the field last week against Oregon.
Ohio State Buckeyes safety Marcus Hooker (29) runs a drill during Ohio State Buckeyes football practice on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]
With the announcement of Josh Proctor being out for the remainder of the season, the safety position got more cloudy as well. Like Pope above, Marcus Hooker is a guy with top-end ability. He is actually the most experienced safety in the room considering he has some 2020 starts under his belt, but some off-field issues and a brief suspension have placed him in the dog house. It might be time to get him out of there. [listicle id=60747] Contact/Follow us @BuckeyesWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Ohio State news, notes and opinion.