Ekeler talks Ohio State, defensive improvement

Indiana co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Ekeler knows he and his defense are in for their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday.

Under new coach Urban Meyer, Ohio State has unleashed quarterback Braxton Miller with the spread option offense and become perhaps the most explosive offense in the Big Ten. The only team in the conference that has scored more points this season is Nebraska, but the Buckeyes just pounded the Cornhuskers in a 63-38 shootout.

“Their offense is extremely multiple,” Ekeler said. “They’ve got playmakers all across the board. Great tight ends. Great receivers. Quarterback could be one of the more electrifying athletes I’ve ever personally seen. And I’ve seen a lot of great players over the years. Adrian Peterson, just a ton of guys. He’s right up there with the Reggie Bushes. He’s pretty phenomenal. Special, special athlete. He makes them very hard to handle.”

He’s even harder to handle under Meyer’s offense than he was a year ago. Meyer obviously utilized the quarterback run game a lot in his time in Florida with Tim Tebow and is doing so again with Miller this year. Miller also got plenty of carries a year ago, but running out of the shotgun formation has made him more dangerous.

“He took the majority of his snaps under center last year,” Ekeler said. “That element wasn’t there. Then you toss in the quarterback run that they’re doing with him, and it’s completely, completely different. They’re spreading you out and making you make plays on space again with maybe one of the most electrifying players in college football.”

Ekeler was asked if it was scary to see the Buckeyes score 63 points on Nebraska, where he spent three years as a linebackers coach.

“I don’t know if it was scary,” he said. “Those are a lot of my good friends at Nebraska. I was more disappointed for those guys. They’re kind of hitting their stride. They’re a great team and they’re gonna be a great challenge for us.”

That being said, Ekeler said he feels confident because he believes in his defense. He bristled at the idea that Saturday’s game — when the Hoosiers held Michigan State to 22 yards in the first quarter and generally had their best performance to date even in a 31-27 loss — was a revelation.

“You guys don’t see it,” Ekeler said. “You guys don’t get it because you’re not here every day. No disrepect to ya, but our kids have been playing their tails off all year. To say that we come out and played inspired last week, to me, that’s an insult. Our kids have been playing their tails off from the first game all the way up until last week. That’s just who we are character-wise. They’re gonna play hard and they’re gonna do what we’re coached to do and we’re gonna give everything we got.”





  1. Great comment Coach Ekeler! Honest and direct! That probably needed to be said to us. We’re not a very knowledgeable group of fans- little experience with success in football, but we are learning.

    Most important, we want to learn to support a team that gets better as it grows. Keep coaching us!

  2. We’re not a very knowledgeable group of fans- little experience with success in football, but we are learning.

    To clarify he refers to himself and Hoosier Clarion only.

  3. No, H…I’m specifically referring to you whose only purpose here seems to be to spread some bitterness on your pacifier so you can remember how it was as a baby. Now…breath deep and relax…close you eyes… try not to bite mommie…!

  4. Tswhoa!

                       oo$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$o         o$   $$ o$
       o $ oo        o$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$o       $$ $$ $$o$
    oo $ $ "$      o$$$$$$$$$    $$$$$$$$$$$$$    $$$$$$$$$o       $$$o$$o$
    "$$$$$$o$     o$$$$$$$$$      $$$$$$$$$$$      $$$$$$$$$$o    $$$$$$$$
      $$$$$$$    $$$$$$$$$$$      $$$$$$$$$$$      $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
      $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$    $$$$$$$$$$$$$    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$  """$$$
       "$$$""""$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$     "$$$
        $$$   o$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$     "$$$o
       o$$"   $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$       $$$o
       $$$    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$" "$$$$$$ooooo$$$$o
      o$$$oooo$$$$$  $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$   o$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
      $$$$$$$$"$$$$   $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$     $$$$""""""""
     """"       $$$$    "$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$"      o$$$
                "$$$o     """$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$"$$"         $$$
                  $$$o          "$$""$$$$$$""""           o$$$
                   $$$$o                                o$$$"
                    "$$$$o      o$$$$$$o"$$$$o        o$$$$
                      "$$$$$oo     ""$$$$o$$$$$o   o$$$$""
                         ""$$$$$oooo  "$$$o$$$$$$$$$"""
                            ""$$$$$$$oo $$$$$$$$$$

    Bite me!

  5. Ekeler credits the defense for playing “their tails off.” I agree they have improved a lot and have been trying very hard. I loved the effort they put forth on Saturday. But trying hard and being effective are two different things. We need coach Ekeler and coach Mallory to instill that same work-ethic and motivation into bigger, stronger, faster, and more athletic defenders. Until Ekler and Mallory recruit bigger and better athletes for the defense, all the effort in the world is not going to stop Big Ten offenses from gaining lots of yards and scoring lots of points against IU. IU’s defense is simply outmanned, and that reality shows up in the fourth quarter.

    How many JC players will IU bring in for next year’s defense? I’m guessing about six more.

  6. TTG, when will the incessant breast-feeding allusions end? Time to move on from that one permanently. Trust me, there doesn’t need to be any past childhood trauma to disagree with you and HC.

  7. Coach Ekeler I hope you’re still listening because we’re still talking to you. Hoosier Claritin and Tswhoa “Tits” Gonzalez want you to coach them, please.

  8. Podunker,

    You hit the nail on the head. While I support our team and expect the best, reality is out of 11 starters on defense, there is maybe 3 who would play for other B1G teams. Eckler and Mallory need to address the corners and lineman first, in my opinion.

    I would like for them to teach #7 (Williams) to play the ball and not the receiver. There was twice against MSU he was in position to make a play and possibly get an INT if he would have turned his head and looked.

    I would also like to see them stop putting #22 (Mullen) in 1 on 1 coverage. While I think he had a better game on Sunday, he is not a shut down cover corner and never will be. He just doesn’t have it. Someone said on here a couple weeks ago the Mullen was the worse corner IU has ever had, I disagree with that, Richard Council was way worse.

    One thing I have noticed with this team is that they are doing the little things better each and every week. As was evident to start the game against MSU on Saturday. What they are not doing is maintaining that level of play for an entire game. I must say I don’t put the 31 points on the defense on Saturday, the 2nd half play and play calling on the offense consistently put the defense in bad positions with little rest. There were a couple times they barely got a water break and had to go back on the field. This defense is undersized and needs rest at times in the 2nd half.

    The improvement is there, and will continue to get better, but I don’t expect the wins to come until these young guys mature and/or we get higher caliber players than Lynch left us with.

  9. Mike P, great point about the DBs. It’s a huge pet peeve how they always play the receiver, not the ball. I’m sure they’re taught that way because pretty much all of them do it. There’s so many passes completed with our DB draped all over the receiver because his back is turned to the play and he has not idea where the ball is. Heban is one of the few exceptions. He has excellent instincts. Watching Richard Council was torture. When he did accidentally break up a pass with his shoulder pads once every 5 games, he would dance around like he wasn’t the guy who gave the previous 2 TDs that game. He got up in Pat Fitzgerald’s face a couple years ago and celebrated after making a lucky play, and I lost it. I was hoping he was going to Woody Hayes’d right in the throat by Fitz.

  10. Mike P., Amen about Council. Mullen in my observation is more a nickel(dime and ST’s)than a man or zone cover guy(seems we have several nickel players though). He appears more aggressive to run support than pass. Also the under development/achievement of Lawrence Barnett is an enigma equal to Dusty Kiel or my eyes simply did not see what I thought during their HS days. You and Po are in the heart of the matter. I personally do give the DB’s a slim pass. The DL for me is 65/70% of the pass coverage performance. I really hate to think how bad it would be if Hagen and Fabris were not double teaming that situation from the coaching positions. In fact I believe those 2 will have every bit as much to do about future talent at their specialty positions as the DC’s, maybe more. I am as positive on them coaching the DL as I am with Frey at the OL. It appears Marshall is gaining ground, pushed into the 2 deep and asserting himself on St’s. Next year the other Antonio arrives and maybe we start becoming a tougher gig for opponents. Sure am enjoying the energy and effort compared to past several seasons.

  11. Gene P.,

    A buddy of mine and I were discussing the corners last night, and fyi, there is an article by Dustin on the pay site posted at 9:22am today talking about the corners.

    Anyway, in our discussion we were talking about the way the play the receiver and not the ball. We both talked that it could be they our coached that way, or that being young and in the position they are playing catch up that they are so focused on not giving up the break out TD that they just focus on making the hit on the receiver. Either way, they are going to be key to the success of the defense. Good thing is one is a redshirt sophomore, the other a true sophomore. Next two seasons they might be quality corners.

  12. Clarion,

    Mullen last year was a nickle with Heban playing the cover corner. They flipped them this year with Heban doing much more damage in the nickel than Mullen ever dreamed of.

    The d-line needs more help, Larry Black & Adam Replogle are decent tackles I think could play for other B1G teams, the defensive ends are not big enough, fast enough or strong enough to beat 1 on 1 blocking consistently. Until that front 4 gets a solid push on pass plays, the corners are going to be constantly in bad spots, regardless of who is playing those spots.

Comments are closed.