Knowles, Day pleased with defense


COLUMBUS — Just two weeks ago, Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with the media and proclaimed only a quarter of his defensive schemes had been installed after a full week of camp. Now, with less than two weeks until Ohio State takes the field against Notre Dame, Knowles and the Buckeye defense are considerably further along.

When Knowles made that comment on Aug. 9, it was not meant to be ominous. In fact, he immediately followed up the statement by saying the progress would increase “exponentially” in the days to come. Meeting with the media on Monday, Knowles offered some insight into just how quickly the defense is, indeed, coming along.

“We’re up to about 75%, and I’m very comfortable with where we’re at because we’re going to have to pair it down now … I think we’ve come a long way in terms of installation, farther than I would have expected,” he said.

Knowles credited his players for being open to learning and wanting to be great as the primary reasons why they’ve been able to advance to such a comfortable level in such a relatively short time span.

As Ohio State enters its normal game-week routine following Saturday’s practice, the time for installing additional aspects of the defense will soon pass as Knowles and the Silver Bullets turn their full attention to game-planning specifically for the week’s opponent. But while he may never get his players up to speed on every aspect of his scheme this season, Knowles said he never expected that to be the case this offseason and won’t try to reach that level in-season.

“We’ll keep some things in reserve and pull them out as needed as we go through the season, but I don’t like to spring things on the players that are brand new as you’re preparing for an opponent,” he said.

He added, “My philosophy is to get as much in as you can and make sure you have enough (installed) so that you have answers (during games). We’ve always been good in the second half. That’s not because we’re creating new things. It’s because we’re pulling from a tool chest that already has answers in it and (the players) are aware of it and know how it works.”

With the defense nearing its final form, at least as it pertains to the season opener, as well as getting healthier, Knowles expressed confidence in what he is seeing from them and what he can expect when they take the field against Notre Dame.

“I don’t have that many concerns now that the (injured) corners are coming back,” he said when asked about the most worrisome part of the defense. “I feel confident in what we have. Just seeing it in an actual live game situation (is a question), but that’s every year for a football coach that first time you put them out there. You want them to play as well as they can. But I have no concerns with them.”

Speaking on Monday as well, head coach Ryan Day seemed to be equally as confident as Knowles in what Ohio State will get from its defense on Sept. 3.

“I think so,” Day said when asked if he’s seeing what he needs to from the defense. “They’re playing with great confidence, they’re playing with great energy. I think what Jim’s done a really great job of is, you have your whole offense or defense, but then you figure out what areas fit the guys that you have.

“This is a different group than he’s had at the previous stop and in previous years. I think he’s recognized some things that maybe he had a little differently at Oklahoma State than he has here and he’s tailored the scheme to that, which is great … that’s the sign of a good college football coach.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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