Ohio State defense happy being ordinary
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nothing about Saturday's game at the L.A. Coliseum screams ordinary. Not the teams, not the players, not the coaches, not the fans, not the rankings, not the implications for both the winner and loser.
But after falling short in several showcase opportunities, Ohio State's defense is focused on keeping it simple.
"You make the plays that come to you," cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said Tuesday night. "One of our coaches said it best. He said, 'Don't try to do something extraordinary. Just do the things that are ordinary great.' ... You don't have to try to force plays."
When Jenkins watched film of Ohio State's losses in the last two BCS title games, he saw defenders caught up in the hype, trying to make plays outside of their job descriptions and, as a result, whiffing on their assignments. By the time the Buckeyes settled down in the second half of both those games, it was far too late.
Jenkins and fellow co-captain James Laurinaitis have repeated the same three words all week: Do your job.
"Especially against teams like SC, Florida, LSU, these are teams that bank on you making mistakes," Jenkins said. "They'll take advantage of every single one of them. You can get away with it with lesser-talented teams, but in huge games like this, every little mistake counts. One guy misses a gap here or is not in his deep third there, that could result in some big plays."
Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel on Tuesday downplayed the personal foul penalties his team drew against LSU in January, but Laurinaitis is making a point to ensure that his teammates don't lose their composure.
"You've just got to relax and think, 'This is the same stuff at practice,' which, realistically, it's not," Laurinaitis said. "There's a ton of fans out there, a lot of pressure. ... When you know what you're doing and you're comfortable with what you're doing, it allows you to be aggressive."