After promising 2021, Chambers raves about new D

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Steele Chambers is now a veteran linebacker, although he doesn’t always feel like it.

A year ago, Chambers moved from running back after hitting a dead end at that position. His speed and aggression gave an Ohio State defense a boost that needed it. Chambers finished with 47 tackles, which ranked fifth on the team, including five for losses.

But due to his lack of experience in his new position, Chambers had to rely on his instincts more than his knowledge.

When he watches the video from last year, especially the loss to Michiganhe sees more harm than good.

“I cringe, especially because we had “Team Up North” period today and we watched the movie,” Chambers said on Wednesday. “I hadn’t seen it before, and now this stuff is pretty sickening. It was quite difficult, and I feel like this game determines the type of season we have.

Like everyone else on the Buckeyes defense, Chambers is in the midst of another transition. New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is implementing his plan this spring.

When asked if he knows where he’s supposed to be more than last year, Chambers replied, “I’d like to think I know. Sometimes (it’s) a little uncertain, but I’m beginning to understand.

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Knowles, who is in charge of the linebacking unit, lays out his plan in big chunks at a time. Sometimes it’s more than the players can absorb and immediately translate onto the pitch.

“We learned a lot,” Chambers said. “It’s pretty amazing to see how much he’s done in 10 practices. At first, I was a little pissed that we’re doing all of this because I just want to go out and play, and (instead) we’re putting all these pieces together. But now, stepping back and realizing what he’s done in his defence, it’s pretty exceptional.

Knowles’ scheme is based on unpredictability and forces offenses to adapt to what the defense is doing. When asked if he thought the opposing offenses were too much in line with what the Buckeyes were doing defensively last season, Chambers paused, smiled, then said quietly, “Yeah.”

Knowles plans to use a 4-2-5 lineup as his base defense. The competition for the two linebacker spots will be intense. In addition to Chambers, the Buckeyes have veterans Tommy Eichenberg, Cody Simon, Palaie Gaoteote and Teradja Mitchell as well as newcomers Chip Trayanum (a transfer from Arizona State) and freshmen CJ Hicks and Gabe Powers. Redshirt freshman Reid Carrico may also be in the game.

Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Steele Chambers (22) and Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Cody Simon (30) tackle Michigan Wolverines running back Hassan Haskins (25) during the first quarter of their football NCAA College at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mi on November 27, 2021.

And that’s after Cade Stover moved back to tight end and Mitchell Melton was moved to defensive end.

“We came in early in the spring and it looked like we had 38 linebackers,” Chambers said. “Now we have shortened a bit. Everyone in the room is just great players, great guys. There is definitely competition from top to bottom. It increases our whole game and makes us better players and a better defense in general.

Learning the pattern will take time, but Chambers thinks the experience of the past year, while some of it has been painful, will pay off.

“We were all guys who were just getting into our roles last year,” he said. “Sometimes we walked on tiptoe. But now we’re starting to understand exactly what we’re doing, and we can just go for it.

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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