Why ‘block destruction’ matters for Ohio State, a final mock-up before NFL draft, and more
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Today is Tuesday, April 25, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.
Block destruction is as good as it sounds
If you love football like I love football, you no doubt love a good old-fashioned collision. Former Ohio State defensive coordinator — and current Rutgers coach — Chris Ash loved them, too. His decision to reintroduce some good old-fashioned colliding to the Buckeyes defense at the start of the 2014 football season may have changed the fate of Urban Meyer’s Ohio State career, and that’s not hyperbole. When the Buckeyes offense brought the Scarlet and Gray to the doorstep of the national title in 2012 (I know, I know, #BowlBan) and 2013, it was the Everett Withers- and Luke Fickell-led defense that left them stranded on the stoop.
So how did Ash and Fickell resurrect a dying defense? It was simple, apparently. It’s called “block destruction,” and it’s a piece of the puzzle Greg Schiano has continued to implement.
When Chris Ash arrived as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator in the winter of 2014, he instituted a new system to free up his defenders that emphasized both lateral and horizontal leverage. Given the success of the system, it’s no surprise that his successor, Schiano, elected to continue its teaching.
Though the drill is important to Schiano’s fundamental plan, every player on the roster is tasked with mastering five skills to destruct blocks, known as The Difference:
- Get your hairline under the chin of the blocker
- Keep your thumbs up
- Get your elbows together
- Speed to lock your arms out
- Snag or rip to get free
The first four skills are taught in a drill that is part of every Ohio State practice, pitting players against one another without:
That sounds like a lot of little things to worry about, and in truth, it is. Every football player has to consider all these variables before engaging in contact. That’s the game. That’s what Ash believed was the most important piece of winning football, winning your 1-on-1 matchup.
“Good teams, whether it’s offense, defense, or special teams, play the game here – with your arms and wrists tight to gain leverage on your opponent,” Ash said at the beginning of Ohio State’s training camp in 2015. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an offensive player trying to execute a block, a defensive player trying to get off, or somebody on special teams, if you want to be successful in the game of football in a one-on-one matchup, you need to learn to use your hands properly. That means blow delivery: good physical, aggressive blow delivery with proper hand placement.”
There, now you’ve learned football today.
The last of the pretend drafts before the real draft
In case you found yourself wondering, the 2017 NFL Draft is this week, and that means you’ll be glued to your TV for three straight days of glorious football-related entertainment. As an Ohio State fan, you will no doubt watch the first round Thursday night with a little anxiety as you wonder where your favorite former Buckeyes will fall.
(Yes, most of you are probably Browns and Bengals fans, as well, so you may have some interest in how those teams manage to screw up top-10 picks … again.)
As has been the case for most of the last few months, a collection of NFL mock drafts have hit the information superhighway again this week and, yes, the Buckeyes are represented in the first round: three times.
From Cleveland.com’s Bill Landis, a fine gentleman out of Philadelphia who gathered all the info on Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley.
• Round 1, No. 2 overall, San Francisco 49ers: Kiper vs. McShay.
• Round 1, No. 3 overall, Chicago Bears: Kurtenbach; Miller.
• Round 1, No. 5 overall, Tennessee Titans: McShay, Brugler; Easterling.
• Round 1, No. 6 overall, New York Jets: Reuter.
• Round 1, No. 3 overall, Chicago Bears: Reuter.
• Round 1, No. 6 overall, New York Jets: Brugler; McShay.
• Round 1, No. 7 overall, Los Angeles Chargers: Kurtenbach; Easterling; Miller.
• Round 1, No. 17 overall, Washington Redskins: Kiper vs. McShay.
And, finally, Conley:
• Round 1, No. 10 overall, Buffalo Bills: Reuter.
• Round 1, No. 12 overall, Cleveland Browns: Miller.
• Round 1, No. 14 overall, Philadelphia Eagles: Kiper vs. McShay; Kurtenbach; Easterling.
• Round 1, No. 17 overall, Washington Redskins: Brugler.
• Round 1, No. 22 overall, Miami Dolphins: McShay.
So if that happens, three first-round picks, all defensive backs, that’s pretty good, right? Yes, it is. It’d also be kind of historic.
If Hooker, Lattimore, Conley are drafted top-15, it'd be 1st time since 1954-55 a CFB team has back-to-back yrs w/ 3 top-15 picks #OhioState
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 18, 2017
Good job, Buckeyes.
Mike Thomas doing the darn thing
Admission: I didn’t draft Michael Thomas in my fantasy football draft a year ago, but I traded for him early in the season because it was clear to me that he was destined to be a bad dude in an offense with Drew Brees leading the way. That move paid off, Thomas had a great season and has become one of the league’s most revered wideouts.
Spoiler alert: Thomas had a great rookie year in the NFL because he had real experience in his college years. He talked about that with NewOrleansSaints.com, addressing his struggles and, more than anything, just how much Ohio State did for him.
It’s pretty great as far as videos go, and it’s so dripping in praise for the Buckeyes, you’d think the Ohio State social media team created it itself.
Admit it, you miss Aaron Craft as much as I do
I know it’s not cool to talk about Ohio State basketball these days, but sometimes — as much as I hate to admit it — I do. I miss the old days, where it was cool to dig the Buckeyes hoops squad … and I miss Aaron Craft.
There, I said it.
Sometimes, I wonder what Aaron is up to. He’s playing basketball in Italy for Aquila Basket Trento, which means “Something basketball, Trent” I think (my Italian is rusty, for sure), and he’s still pissing off guards all over the place with his quick hands and ferocious defense.
Brent Yarina of BTN.com, who has an insane knowledge of 1980’s TV sitcom Saved by the Bell, caught up with Craft and found out what else he’s been up to. The most important question came first: Is Craft, who had roommates that made “Taco Tuesday” an even bigger deal than it should be, still celebrating a weekly taco day?
Of course Taco Tuesday still lives on! However, I must admit, it is not as regimented as it was during the college years. Amber (his wife) and I like changing it up as well by substituting taco salads or fajitas occasionally, so it isn’t always tacos. But when we start a family, God willing, you can be certain I plan on instilling the tradition into my children.
OK, OK, what else? Will Craft still try to be a doctor when basketball ends? You betcha!
Obviously becoming a doctor is a very time-consuming endeavor, and the longer I play basketball the less likely it seems it may happen. However, I recently talked to Simon Fraser (former OSU football player who played four seasons in the NFL) because he returned to medical school after playing. So, the delayed start isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, which gives me hope that going back is definitely still possible someday. I love basketball, but I can’t play it forever. Becoming a doctor is what I envisioned for my life, but now I have more than myself to think about and care for. My wife definitely has a major say in what the transition from basketball might look like, but I think medical school will always be the first job path I consider outside of basketball.
Yes! Paging Dr. Craft.
Read up more from Aaron by clicking on the link above. He talks Greg Oden, the foul that should have been called but wasn’t against Michigan, and more.
• Pat Fitzgerald signs a 10-year extension with Northwestern, and it’s still probably not long enough
• Where does Michigan turn at quarterback after losing its top target to UCLA?
• Ohio State is going to wear LeBron James uniforms at some point, and I just know it