During Thursday’s press conference, Ohio State’s defensive coordinator Jim Knowles hinted at the possibility of implementing a defensive strategy known as the “Double Eagle” package. This innovative approach involves transforming traditional defensive ends into outside linebackers, creating a more versatile defensive line formation.

Knowles, in his third season with the Buckeyes, expressed his thoughts on the potential transformation, revealing his intention to train senior defensive ends J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer as outside linebackers. In this proposed setup, the defensive line would consist of Ty Hamilton, Tyleik Williams, and Hero Kanu. The move aims to make the defensive unit more dynamic and adaptable to different game scenarios.

“My thoughts are, with Jack and JT, that at some point, I want to train them as outside linebackers. So if you got Hero, Tyleik, and Ty, and you can get to more of five guys, five D-linemen in the game, with training guys like Jack and JT and Kenyatta (Jackson), it’s just kind of in my thoughts. Like, if we’re strong inside, those guys can become more multiple. I think it’s techniques and things that they can use when they get to the next level. So that’s kind of in my thoughts, too.”

Jim Knowles

The proposed change serves a dual purpose for Knowles. Firstly, it provides an opportunity to get Hero Kanu on the field more frequently. Knowles praised Kanu’s performance in limited opportunities, signaling the coaching staff’s desire to maximize his impact on the defensive line.

Additionally, the Double Eagle formation could be a strategic asset against teams emphasizing power running, as the 3-3-5 alignment offers additional beef up front, aiding in stopping the run. Plus, it allows for Knowles to keep five defensive backs on the field, which aligns with his desire to continue to run the 4-2-5 base defense. However, Knowles was quick to point out that this is currently just talk, and the team has yet to implement or practice the new defensive look.

“We haven’t installed that yet. But I’d like to get to that just to see. And like I said, I feel like with those guys (Sawyer and Tuimoloau), the more they know of how to really be an outside linebacker, the better it’s going to help them when they get to the next level. So it’s something I’d like to do for them, too.”

Jim Knowles

When questioned about his openness to the idea of playing more linebacker, J.T. Tuimoloau welcomed the challenge.

“He’s really just putting my skill level to the test and just allowing me to grow more mentally and physically. Just to improve my IQ of the game at multiple areas of the field and continue to grow as a player.”

J.T. Tuimoloau

As the Buckeyes’ coaching staff contemplates this bold defensive strategy, fans are left eagerly anticipating how the potential implementation of the Double Eagle package could reshape Ohio State’s defense and impact the upcoming season. I only have one request. Since this defense is known as the Double Eagle package, can we rename it as the Marcus Hall Defense, a.k.a. the double-bird salute?