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Is the OSU Defense Designed for an Offense Like Oregon? The Buckeyes Think So
By Tony Gerdeman
Darron Lee is just one reason the OSU defense is built for the Oregon offense.
Photo by Jim Davidson

COLUMBUS — What do you get for the offense that has everything? Maybe a defense that has the same.

The Oregon Ducks come into the National Championship game against Ohio State with the No. 2 offense in the nation scoring 47.2 points per game, while being one of the most balanced teams in the country.

Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota leads an offense that runs for 241 yards per game and passes for 311 yards. They can do either whenever they feel like it, and they will do it in immediate fashion.

Pace is only one part of the equation, however, the rest relies upon a versatile offense laced with speed, talent and execution.

So, in order to combat that type of offense, the defense needs to be similar. It needs to be versatile, fast, talented and able to execute on every single snap.

In their two postseason games this year, the Buckeye defense has shown themselves to be capable of each of those characteristics, but their biggest test is yet to come.

Still, it feels like this Ohio State defense has been preparing for the Oregon offense for a while now.

Remember, starting defensive tackles Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington began their careers as defensive ends. They bring speed and quickness to the interior, and they use it very well.

"You’d say our defensive line is undersized," Bennett said this week. "That’s why people were concerned about Alabama. But we proved we can play the power game."

They proved that indeed, just as they did against Wisconsin. But they will now be facing an offense that will stress them wide as well as downfield. Every angle is a possible attack zone for the Duck offense.

But this is a defense that features talented speed at each level. Darron Lee earned an offer from Ohio State by showcasing his abilities as a safety. Now he is showcasing those abilities at linebacker, and he is becoming a star.

Not to be outdone, Will linebacker Joshua Perry was a state finalist in track in high school. Now he is a 6-foot-4 252-pound wall of pursuit. Add in a pair of safeties who are two of the team's top four tackles, and have a combined 10 interceptions this year, and it would seem the versatility, speed and talent are all accounted for.

So does that make this defense, basically, designed to take on an offense like Oregon's?

"I think so," said sophomore safety Vonn Bell. "They like to get out in perimeter space. They think we don’t have speed too, but we do. We just have to execute our keys. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s more tempo. We see our offense every day, so you know they got speed. There’s speed everywhere on our offense. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before."

Player profiles relevant to story:
11 - Bell, Vonn | 37 - Perry, Joshua | 43 - Lee, Darron | 63 - Bennett, Michael
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