Luke Fickell gets defensive over defense

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The last goal on the list was the most critical.

The plan obviously wasn’t to give up more than 600 yards of offense.

+ EnlargeAP Photo/Carlos OsorioOhio State’s defense had its struggles against Michigan but have found what needs correcting before facing Michigan State.Ideally, the defense wouldn’t have allowed 41 points. Of course, the best-case scenario probably didn’t call for needing to snuff a 2-point conversion in the final minute to escape either.

But if Ohio State almost certainly came up well short of the target statistically, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell still had one final item on his checklist he measured with a simple pass or fail grade in Saturday’s wild, shootout win over rival Michigan. And since the No. 2 Buckeyes are still undefeated, that evaluation was pretty easy for him to make.

“What do you mean what went wrong?” Fickell said. “Did we win? Did we win? Did we win? I’ve been up there quite a few times in my 18-year career here and not come away with a win.

“There are a lot of things we have to correct, but every single week we have objectives, and the last objective last week was to win. We came away with a win, we made a play when we had to make a play.”

The Buckeyes didn’t make many on that side of the ball before an interception by Tyvis Powell sealed the win over the Wolverines. Even with a positive outcome, there’s no way they can hide from that fact.

Fickell acknowledged some communication breakdowns, gave credit to Michigan for an aggressive game plan that caught Ohio State off guard and stressed the importance of improved “awareness” as his team prepares for Saturday’s Big Ten title game in Indianapolis against No. 10 Michigan State.

But his boss took it one step further, as coach Urban Meyer made it clear he didn’t think another passing grade would be likely without a much more stout defensive effort.

SportsNation: B1G Championship Game Ohio State faces Michigan State with its No. …

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