Star of the Defense

In 2011, the Miami Redhawks passed the ball 55% of the time. Of their 240 first downs, 161 of them came as the result of a pass.

If the trend holds, they will be a team that begs opponents to use a nickel defense.

In a somewhat related development, Ohio State has yet to decide on a nickel back.

“I think the one thing we’re trying to do is get the best players on the field.” said co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. “Through camp what we’ve done is we’ve tried to rotate a number of guys at the star position.”

Withers said he hopes to have a decision made this week, but in any event, Saturday should provide a lot of clarity.

“No question. It will give us a gauge of where we are in a lot of ways,” Withers admitted.

And while it has yet to be decided whether Corey Brown, Christian Bryant or Devan Bogard will be the go-to guy at nickel, we do know which linebackers will remain on the field when OSU adds an extra defensive back.

Etienne Sabino and Ryan Shazier both have the attributes Withers says are necessary for that: “Guys that can play in space, guys that can pressure and blitz, guys that can obviously cover one-on-one.”

Sabino will handle the duties normally associated with the Mike (middle) linebacker in that scenario.

“I’m excited. You know, you want to stay on the field at all times,” Sabino said. “I think me and Ryan will do some good things on the field together.”

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