It’s official: The Ohio State defense has become a problem.

After giving up nearly 500 passing yards to Indiana on Saturday, on top of second-half comebacks allowed to Penn State and Rutgers, we can officially say that the Buckeyes have a trend of allowing teams to get back into games. And the opponents’ success is coming mostly on big pass plays.

Over the next two weeks, Ohio State will be able to work on some things. I doubt either Illinois or Michigan State will offer up too much of a challenge, so the Buckeyes should have room to experiment.

“Any time you have a problem like that, it’s one of three things,” head coach Ryan Day said after the Indiana win. “You say to yourself, do you have the right personnel there? So you look at who’s doing it. Then the second thing is, what is the scheme? Does the scheme give our guys the right opportunity to be successful? And then if both of those boxes get checked, then it goes to coaching. Are we coaching it correctly? So I think that’s, when you’re trying to fix something, you have to identify one of those three things that needs to get addressed, or maybe a little bit of each.”

Day said he thinks it’s a combination of things.

“Usually, when you assess something like that, it’s not like, okay, it’s only this,” he said. “It’s usually a little bit of this, a lot of this, maybe a little bit here or there. And if you tighten up all three of those areas, usually you see improvement.”

So what’s going on with the Buckeyes defense? Here are 5 reasons this group isn’t as good as those of previous years:

1. The talent exodus

Look, we’re not trying to make excuses here. We’re just keeping it real.

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It was always going to be a challenge to replace guys like Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette and Jordan Fuller. Just having all of those guys leave for the NFL would be a blow to any program. And I understand that in Columbus, the idea is to replace talent with talent, but this was a huge loss, evident by their outstanding play as professionals.

Who can step up to fill these shoes? No one has been able to do that yet.

2. The new coaching staff

I don’t care how good of a coach you are, when there’s a transition, it takes time to gel — with your new job and your new players.

After last season, co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley was credited with helping to transform the Buckeyes defense. Hafley then left to become the head coach at Boston College, and Day brought in former secondary coach Kerry Coombs to take over.

I think Coombs was a good hire, but I also think it may take some time for him to bring in his players, and to get used to coaching from the coordinator position. How much of a difference does this make? Probably more than we realize.

3. Injuries and attrition

In talking about the weaknesses of the defense, you have to first look at the secondary. I understand that linebackers such as Baron Browning and Pete Werner get beat in coverage, too, but I can live with that. And I still believe the front seven got good pressure against Indiana, even if it didn’t translate to sacks.

But the back end of the defense, even from veterans like Shaun Wade, really struggled. Time after time, there were miscommunications, blown coverages or guys just getting beat by Indiana wide receivers. It became embarrassing.

But there are also some factors at play here that need to be pointed out. The secondary needed veterans, but many were lost for various reasons. Cameron Brown tore his Achilles against Penn State, and that hurt. Jahsen Wint and Amir Riep found trouble with the law in the offseason and never came back to the field. Kourt Williams — who could have earned a starting spot at safety — tore his ACL in preseason camp.

Again, not making excuses, but to ignore these circumstances would be to ignore part of the problem.

4. The scheme

Cardale Jones may have it right. Day mentioned that you have to look at scheme, and former Buckeyes quarterback Jones says that’s where the problem lies.

“I don’t think man-to-man is going to work for our defense,” Jones tweeted Saturday. “We don’t (have) that one dominate DL we’ve been spoiled with over the last few season, Joey, Nick, Chase. Our DL is good as a whole but we don’t have that 1 dawg to be able to go get the QB as we put our DBs on islands.”

It’s hard to argue. And I think that could be a possible solution. If anything, the time to try to figure it out is now.

5. It’s just a messed-up year

For all B1G teams, it has been a strange season. First they’re told they won’t play at all. Then they have an abridged schedule, one where any game can be called off at any time. Who knows when your teammates may or may not be playing? And then what happens if you get sick? It’s all uncertain.

Couple that with the stress that any ordinary person has about everything going on in the world and you have to admit there’s a lot going on in these players’ heads right now. It has to play a factor.

What is needed is time for practice and evaluation. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes have little of that.

“At the end of the day, you have to put the best players on the field to make plays,” Day said. “We believe in our guys, we have confidence in our guys, so I’ll be very surprised if we have to make any changes. But maybe we will. We have to watch the film and see.”

I just bet there will be some experimenting going on in these next couple of weeks.