As the Ohio defense seems to bounce back from its disappointing performance in 2020 and return to the championship game in 2021, there will be a new assistant coach to help guide those efforts.
A seat on Ohio’s defense coaching staff officially opens at the end of the month when Greg Mathison – Bucky’s joint defense coordinator for the past two seasons – retires.
Mattison’s replacement has not yet been chosen, and it has not been clear since Friday morning who Ohio is seeking to take his place. Ohio coach Ryan Day said Friday that he would consider various options for the new hire.
Since Mattison was neither the main defense coordinator nor the head coach of the lifebacks, Ohio has the flexibility to hire a replacement. While Dan could hire another joint defense coordinator to lead the defense̵
“I think we have a really good group of guys right now who are versatile, so we’ll look at all the options,” Day said. “Is there anyone else who can take Greg’s place with the same role he did, or will we just move some things and reassign some of the job descriptions?” It’s all on the table and we’re working on it now and looking at all the different options.
“Actually, I’m not set up for ‘That’s exactly what the role should be.’ You just want to put together the best group to give our defending boys the best chance of succeeding. ”
While defense co-ordinator and head coach Kerry Coombs, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, linebacker coach Al Washington and security coach Matt Barnes are ready to return in 2021, Ohio has reason to consider a change.
The Buckeyes finished this past season, ranking 43rd in the Football Bowl with 25.8 points per game, 59th with 401.6 yards per game and 122nd with 304 permitted yards per game. Ohio’s defense struggled especially in the National Championship game against Alabama, in which Crimson Tide scored 52 points at 621 yards, and Day admitted on Friday that the defense’s performance in 2020 did not meet program standards.
“We didn’t play very well against Indiana and there were times at the start of the season when it just didn’t look right,” Day said. “And then it all kind of culminates in the end against Alabama.”
At the same time, that defense was good enough – especially in the Big Ten game against the Northwest and the Sugar Bowl against Clemson – to get Ohio to the national championship. And Bucky had to deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the year – they played only eight games in total, and Dan revealed on Friday that Bucky had only one padded practice before the national championship game – which shouldn’t They should not be forgotten when evaluating the struggles they have had in defense over the past season.
“I thought we did a good job against Clemson. I thought our boys played well, we created turnovers and they played really well there. “I thought we played well for the most part against the Northwest,” Day said. “We had some interruptions only in terms of practice and things like that. We trained only one day in pads leading to the game of the national championship. Not that this is an excuse, I just think that when you look at the number of games we’ve had, find out a little more about your defense, you can experiment with some things a little more when you have five or six more games from us.
“I think that was the culmination of things there in the end. But certainly things to look at as we enter the season, and all the big discussions we need to get into next fall. ”
Given the struggles that the state of Ohio defended the pass in 2020, these discussions will include a conversation about whether the Buckeyes should stick to Cover 3, a Pete Carroll-inspired defense they’ve used over the past two seasons, or whether they should to update their scheme this offseason. And that’s a factor that Dan needs to consider when he hires Mattison’s deputy and determines how the 2021 defense staff should be structured.
“Anyone with four levels of defense experience will certainly fit in faster,” Day said. “But then attracting someone with a slightly more diverse background can give us a different perspective and areas where we can maximize what we have. And I think that’s important because we’re trying to do that all the time in attack and I think it’s going to be important for what we’re doing in defense, it’s based on who we have this year, what gives us the most the best chance to be successful?
“If you have to keep being in a high, Cover 3? Let’s do this. But if not, what are the things? So, do we want to have some continuity there and continue that, or do we want to attract someone with a different perspective? All the discussions that are taking place now. ”