Ohio State Buckeyes defense embracing ‘basic’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State's defense turns criticism into a positive.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

NEXT GAME

Rutgers at Ohio State, noon, Oct. 1, Big Ten Network, 1410

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Jalyn Holmes didn’t have to wait long. After professing his love for the word “basic,” Holmes was asked Wednesday if it was on a T-shirt yet.

“It will be,” he said.

By Thursday, it was, thanks to the Eleven Warriors website, which had sold all its “Basic Defense” T-shirts by Friday. It seems the fans have embraced what was meant to be a criticism as much as Ohio State’s defense.

Oklahoma backup quarterback Austin Kendall gets all the credit. In an interview taped for Sooner Sports TV days before the game in Norman, he said, “I think (the Buckeyes) have a really basic defense. Baker (Mayfield), he’ll light them up. I’m really looking forward to it, and if my number’s called, I think I can do the same.”

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Mayfield completed 17 of 32 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns. Ohio State intercepted him twice, returning one for a touchdown, and sacked him three times.

The Buckeyes (3-0) routed the Sooners 45-24 and rose to No. 2 in both polls. Their reward for their most impressive regular-season, non-conference victory in years was an open date. They return to action at noon Oct. 1 against Rutgers in their Big Ten opener.

Ohio State has outscored Bowling Green, Tulsa and Oklahoma 170-37. The defense has surrendered two touchdowns. Bowling Green scored its only touchdown on an interception return. The Sooners scored one of their three touchdowns on a kickoff return.

For Ohio State, “basic” means “really good.” Holmes, who ranks tied for sixth on the team with nine tackles and is one of seven players with a sack, credited the backup quarterback’s description for winning the game for Ohio State.

“I love it,” Holmes said. “I told my mom, I’m going to embrace it. I’m going to be as basic as I can. I’m going to be fundamentally sound. It sounds basic, but it wins. It’s a constant reminder to do your job. When I first heard it, I looked up the word basic and made sure he was talking to us.”

There was nothing complicated about the big play Holmes made against Oklahoma. He sprinted untouched into the backfield and pressured Mayfield. Holmes threw his hands up at the last moment and deflected the pass. Jerome Baker caught it and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown to give Ohio State a 14-0 lead.

Holmes, a junior from Norfolk, Va., played in 24 games the last two seasons. He has a bigger role than ever this season, however, sharing time on a deep defensive line. The tipped pass was the biggest play of his career.

“Being young and watch football in prime time and then you see yourself making a good play in front of the whole country, it’s exciting,” Holmes said. “It’s also humbling to show kids back home from where I’m from that they can do that as well.”