Ohio State safety Malik Hooker is Vonn Bell, maybe better: 5 Bill Landis observations

Malik Hooker was drawing oohs and aahs for his play, and he wasn’t making interceptions.

That’s progress.

In the second half of Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin on Saturday night, Hooker was a missile. He flew up from his safety position to make stops near the line of scrimmage on the Badgers jet sweep play to Jazz Peavy that killed the Buckeyes all night.

It was very Vonn Bell-like.

“This is the most I’ve had to do that this year,” Hooker said. “A lot of times we play teams with an offense similar to ours. They run an NFL offense and I knew I was gonna have to be like another linebacker in this game.”

Bell was a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft for two reasons: He can cover like a corner even though he’s a safety, and he can fly to the line of scrimmage or into the backfield and lay thunderous hits that take away your horizontal offensive game.

There was a time when Bell and Darron Lee were among the best safety/linebacker combos in the college game and made life difficult on anyone trying to stretch out Ohio State’s defense. I had been waiting for players to flash in that regard all season.

Jerome Baker really did it last week against Indiana. Hooker did it against Wisconsin. The two of them together on Saturday combined for 19 tackles, two for loss.

We could be seeing the beginnings of a Bell/Lee combo with Hooker and Baker.

“I loved it,” Hooker said. “I felt like I didn’t play like I should have in the first half, second half I came down and was making some hits. When I made the hits I thought, ‘Man I could get used to this.’ I felt like I was a linebacker out there.”

More observations from Ohio State’s win:

2. A tight game meant a Cam Johnston game. Ohio State’s punter kicked five times for an average of 53.8 yards, a long of 70 and dropped one inside the Wisconsin 20-yard line.

Johnston doesn’t have enough punts to qualify among the national leaders, otherwise he’d be first with an average of 50 yards. This is your weekly reminder of how good Johnston is.

3. So much for Curtis Samuel not getting the ball. One week after he touched it once on Ohio State’s first 25 offensive snaps, Samuel got five touches on the first 11 plays on Saturday.

He finished with 12 carries for 46 yards, and six receptions for 58 yards.

4. Here’s something I don’t understand: Why does Ohio State keep using designed roll-outs for J.T. Barrett on third and fourth down plays? They hardly ever work.

All they do is allow the defense to only defend one half of the field and makes he degree of difficulty of the throw greater because Barrett is moving. It also takes Barrett out of doing what he does best: Turning broken plays into positive yardage by taking a quarterback run past the sticks. A broken play on a roll-out usually just ends in a throw-away.

4f9e87197fb4659d

Source