In 2009, the strength the Buckeyes was without a doubt the defensive line. They were talented, they were deep, and they were experienced. Those qualities helped Ohio State shut down the high powered, high paced Oregon offensive attack in the Rose Bowl. It was a fitting end to a great year for the line.
At the beginning of this season, there was little to no drop off in the starting four. Between Cameron Heyward, Dexter Larimore, Nathan Williams, and John Simon, Ohio State was in great shape along the defensive front.
However, depth and experience were a serious concern after losing five key contributors from the rotation. Nothing against the young linemen, but no matter how talented you are, you can’t replace three or four years of experience playing in the trenches in the Big Ten.
In the loss at Wisconsin, it was clear that the defense didn’t have enough gas in the tank to slow down the devastating Badger ground game at the most crucial points in the second half. To put it bluntly, they got steamrolled, and that can be traced directly back to depth and fresh legs along the defensive line.
The good news is that Arkansas shouldn’t have the horses to do the same thing in the Sugar Bowl. The bad news is that Ohio State will need to fill some serious holes along the line in 2011 with players that have yet to prove themselves.
Before I get ahead of myself, here is a look at Ohio State’s defensive line and how they performed in 2010. Read More
Like the annual haircut (whether needed or not), a new “look” makes a world of difference, no? Since all of the cool kids were getting new school clothes, we thought in only appropriate to join in on the blog couture arms race.
Big thanks to Chad of Digital:Construct, an OSU alum who was great to work with (even upgraded the old Etch-a-Sketch) throughout the process.
Now, news and notes from the intertubes:
REPORTER: You’ve lost 41 times playing other Ohio colleges.
COACH TRESSEL: You said that last year but you used 40.
REPORTER: Can you imagine what it would be like –
COACH TRESSEL: You asked the same question. You’ve got to get new material.
REPORTER: I need a better answer maybe.
COACH TRESSEL: What was my answer last time?
REPORTER: I don’t remember.
COACH TRESSEL: Then how do you know it wasn’t good? You weren’t pleased with it, but you don’t know what it was. Man!
No Clue At All: I know I’m a little late on this, but it’s been a busy week…
in various online fantasy football and baseball leagues. In all instances, he paid an entry fee and played for a chance to win prizes, which meets the NCAA definition of sports wagering.
Not only did the former head coach participate in wagering, he also purchased an online fantasy football business and oversaw its operations as part owner and managing partner. In 2008, the former volunteer coach, who was already employed by the university at the time, was hired by the former head coach to work in this business. The former volunteer coach acted as “commissioner” of the fantasy leagues, coordinating the competitions and monitoring the selection of players by those who paid entry fees to participate. In the spring of 2008, he traveled to Las Vegas to oversee a live “draft.”
Fall camp always seems to produce the juiciest news of the year and this year has been no different. For the next couple weeks I will be scouring the Buckeye-sphere for all the interesting tidbits to share.
So far there has been almost nothing but good news coming out of the WHAC. Obviously the loss of Duron Carter plus the confusion regarding TE Nic DiLillo’s situation stings a little, but everything else has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. Let’s take a look.
Color me impressed with the defensive line this spring.
After losing five key members of the rotation from last season, including two starters, it would be natural to assume that the D-Line might not be as good as last years group… at least not right away. Well, that inclination may just be wrong.
Is it possible that the line can be even better this year?Apparently people “in the know’ think that is a very real possibility.
Here are some reasons why it might happen. Read More
After spending two posts (which are already outdated a week later) going over the offensive line, it is time to move back to the defensive side of the ball. In this post I will look at the defensive tackles.
Very quickly, I would like to mention that we are trying to work out a feature here at The BBC where I will come back and re-evaluate each of the positions I break down at various points throughout the season. It should be fun to track how each of the positions are performing and to look at any surprise developments. As I mentioned above, the offensive line already looks like it may be drastically different from what I was looking at in my analysis just a few days ago, so that may be one of the first positions I go back and look at again once the season begins. Stay tuned for that.
Before I can get to re-evaluating, I have to make it through the initial evaluations. So, on to the DTs…
Experience; the defensive tackles at Ohio State have it. Fifth year senior Todd Denlinger, fifth year senior Doug Worthington, and redshirt junior Dexter Larimore all return after being mainstays in the DT rotation for the past two seasons. That is a lot of returning experience, unfortunately, this group is mostly experienced at being mediocre (at least for Ohio State).
2007 was the year that this group of players took over as the main contributors in the DT rotation (Denlinger logged significant minutes in 2006 as well) following the graduation of David Patterson and Quinn Pitcock. What followed was a season of usually solid, but never spectacular, play from the new DT rotation.
Move ahead to 2008. Many hoped that with a season of experience under their collective belts, Denlinger, Worthington, and Larimore would improve upon their ’07 performance and become a dominant group in ’08. That dominance never materialized, and another season of unspectacular play went down in the books.
Now they enter their third year in the rotation, and the question still remains: will this group finally break out of mediocrity? Being the eternal optimist that I am, I think that they could, by my optimism is dulled by the fact that I thought the same thing last year.
Regardless of past performances, I am still crossing my fingers for a dominant season. Beyond the veteran group I mentioned above, there will also be an infusion of young blood this year that will make the rotation at DT even deeper. Additionally, it appears that some DEs may be moving down to DT on passing situations (I will go over this more when I look at the DEs) which will add a new dynamic to the position.
Dominance? please please please (fingers crossed).
Improved play along the defensive line is one of the keys I am looking for this season, and DT is the position that needs the most improvement on the line. If the defensive tackles are able to dominate games the growing pains experienced by the new linebackers and cornerbacks will be minimized, which will obviously be the ideal situation.
Games are won in the trenches, and these are the guys manning the trenches on defense for the scarlet and gray this year:
Doug Worthington (#84)
Fifth year senior Doug Worthington is penciled in as one of the starters at DT in the fall media guide. Worthington came to Ohio State as a highly rated defensive end in 2005 but never found his way into the rotation. He eventually found his way to tackle where he played his first significant minutes in 2007 and has been in the rotation ever since then. At 6’6″ and around 280 lbs. many people feel that Worthington is a bit too tall and lean to excel at tackle. While this may have been true initially, he has had extensive experience at DT at this point and he should be acclimated to the position to the point where he has an understanding of how to get the job done despite his height.
Worthington is a leader on the team and will continue to be a consistent presence at DT. Anything above consistent would be a pleasant surprise.
This is a bit off topic, but I think Worthington would be a perfect defensive end for an NFL team that runs a 3-4 defense.
Dexter Larimore (#72)
Pencilled in as the other starter at DT is redshirt junior Dexter Larimore. At 6’2″ and around 300 lbs. Larimore is closer to the size that you typically see for a DT at Ohio State. Larimore has an extensive wrestling background (ranked #1 in the nation on the mat as a senior in high school) which the coaches seem to covet from their defensive tackles these days (everytime I hear that one of our DTs has a wrestling background I hope and pray for the next Tim Anderson).
Larimore redshirted in 2006, saw playing time in 2007, and was a rotating starter in 2008. He has plenty of experience and is described as “an extremely tough, physical player” which is nice, but like Worthington, anything above consistant play from Larimore this year would be icing on the cake.
Todd Denlinger (#92)
Todd Denlinger is another fifth year senior who has been around the program for a long time (five years, if you want to be exact). After redshirting in 2005, Denlinger made solid contributions along the line in 2006 and looked to be heading towards a bright future. Injuries had other ideas, and are largely responsible for lackluster years for Denlinger in ’07 (missed three games with a knee injury) and ’08 (hobbled practically the entire year with an ankle injury).
If Denlinger can stay healthy for the entire year he will be another solid verteran contributor at tackle. When healthy, I actually think that Denlinger has the ability to be the best defensive tackle on the team. He has speed and quickness (he played linebacker in high school) and a motor that never stops running (at least according to the media guide). A healthy Denlinger definitely improves the DT group, and I actually think that he is the player that could push the group out of mediocrity. It looks like Denlinger will be seeing some reps at TE this season as well, so the coaches are either confident in his abilities and don’t think he needs the extra reps lost while he is with the offense, or I am way off base about how much he will contribute on defense this year.
Those are the three veterans that I mentioned in the intro. I think you can basically put their names in a hat and pick two to decide who the starters will be in a given game, but there will be lots of rotating and I expect to see the young guys I am about to go over see plenty of action this year as well. I really hope that Denlinger and Worthington are able to go out with a bang and have outstanding senior seasons, and who knows, maybe they will even shed the mediocre label. Like I mentioned earlier, I thought they would be much improved last year and was wrong, so I will wait and see this year before I predict that the veteran tackles will be anything other than ordinary.
Beyond the veterans, there are also several young players on the depth chart that will be a part of the rotation this year. They are Willie Mobley (#96) and Garrett Goebel (#53). Both players redshirted last year, so I really have nothing to go on as far as there contributions so far in college, but I will try to give a brief rundown on each anyways.
Mobley was one of the top players in Minnesota coming out of high school. At 6’3″ and around 265 lbs. he is a little bit smaller than you would like for a tackle, but he was projected as a defensive end, so hopefully the speed and quickness that he brings to the field will make up for his lack of bulk. While it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mobley on the field this season, it seems like his reps will be limited.
Goebel, on the other hand, looks like a young player that is going to get significant minutes in the rotation this year. By most accounts, he does well in practice and is getting a lot of time with the first team. At 6’5″ and around 280 lbs. Goebel has good size, and like Larimore, he was an outstanding wrestler in High School, winning the Illinois state championship in 2007.
I look for Goebel to the fourth man in the DT rotation this year.
The end. I guess the summary is that the DTs are experienced, deep, and they won’t be bad, but will they be good? I sure hope so. The play of the defense this year really starts with how well the defensive line, which is by far the most experienced position on the team, plays.
This is a position that will be one of my favorites to come back and look at during the season, because there is a possibility that it will be a really encouraging re-evaluation.
Look for a break down of the DEs in a day or two (sneak preview, they should be really, really good this year).