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Tim May | The Columbus Dispatch | October 4, 2016

Defense on mission to be even stingier

  Luke Fickell (left) says the team goal is for Ohio State to be the No. 1 defense in the country.

Columbus, Ohio -  No one has anointed this season's defense as Ohio State's best, but its trajectory could take it there.

"Let's hope," was what defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said Monday, embracing the possibilities. As he often says, it is Ohio State's goal to be the best defense in the country.

"That's the objective and that is what why we challenge our guys every single day," Fickell said. "There is an incredible standard set here. To whom much is given, much is expected. To call themselves the Silver Bullets, they know there is an expectation."

Coming off the first shutout of the season, 58-0 over Rutgers, the defense has given up just two touchdowns (two others came on an interception return and a kickoff return) while scoring four on interception returns. The Buckeyes lead the nation in defense against the score (9.3 points per game), red zone defense and pass efficiency defense, and are No. 3 in total defense. OSU also is the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision that hasn't allowed a rushing TD.

"It feels great ... but we can't peak week four or five," linebacker Chris Worley said of the effort and the goals. "We have to peak when we play Michigan State, Michigan. ... You only fear when people accept (they no longer need to improve). I don't feel like anyone is accepting it right now. Even after the shutout that we just put up, guys after the game, we were talking about we can get better."

And not just "talking about it," he said, "but putting forth the effort."

Booker on way back?

Coach Urban Meyer said this time a week ago that outside linebacker Dante Booker, who started the opener before suffering a knee sprain, was probable for the Rutgers game only to amend that at midweek. Monday, Meyer used the term "probable" with more conviction for Booker, who has seen Jerome Baker play well in his absence.

Meyer said he knew of no new injuries from the Rutgers game.

Too big to lift

Center Pat Elflein was trying to start a new way of celebrating a touchdown when he convinced running back Mike Weber that should he score, don't just look for a lineman to hug but pick up the lineman, the reverse of what usually happens. So that's what Weber did last week after his 46-yard breakaway; he went to pick up up Elflein, thinking the 310-pounder was going to give him some help by leaping, "but he didn't jump," the 212-pound Weber said Monday.

That part of the celebration was a fail, but Elflein pledged, "I'm going to give a little more effort next time and I think he'll be able to execute the move."

This article was written by Tim May from The Columbus Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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