Way Too Early Look: 2011 Defensive Line

Written February 15th, 2011 by Jim

Two out of four returning starters ain't bad...

Ohio State has been spoiled by some outstanding play in the defensive trenches recently. Whether you look at the incredible depth and experience of the 2009 group or the individual performance of Cameron Heyward and Dexter Larimore in 2010, the defensive line has been one of the primary sources of success for Buckeyes.

Needless to say, the 2011 D-line has some big shoes to fill and some lofty standards to live up to. With significant losses across the board, the defense will be a major rebuilding project in 2011. As usual, that rebuilding project will start up front.

The Buckeyes do return several veteran players (Nathan Williams, John Simon) as well as some young talent that will look to take their game to the next level (Adam Bellamy, Garrett Goebel, Johnathan Hankins). However, depth may be a problem as the two deep will be filled with players that have very little game experience, particularly at defensive tackle.

Then again, compared to 2009, depth may be a concern every season. Re-loading the defense has never been an issue at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes should have no problems finding new stars to replace the old ones.

Here is a run down of the players looking to make some noise in the trenches in 2011. Read More

Regular Season Review: Defensive Line

Written December 14th, 2010 by Jim

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

Fall Depth Chart Released

Written August 26th, 2010 by Jim

Andrew Sweat is stepping his game up.

Today is full of all sorts of goodies. First the interactive guide, now the newest depth chart has been released.

The biggest surprise is that not only has Andrew Sweat surpassed Etienne Sabino (the front runner in the spring) at strong side linebacker, but Sabino is now listed at middle linebacker.

Another big surprise is C.J. Barnett listed ahead of Orhian Johnson at strong safety. Johnson was also the favorite for that spot in the spring.

Some pleasant surprises from the young guys include Johnathan Hankins cracking the two deep at tackle, Adam Bellamy listed as the primary backup behind Heyward at strong side end, Christian Bryant listed as an alternate at Star, and Andrew Norwell as the primary backup at right tackle.

These moves are clearly a reflection of who stood out during the jersey scrimmage this past Saturday or during fall camp in general. Either way, they give us a good idea of where things stand heading into game week.

Some of the changes could also be motivation for certain players to pick their play up as game week approaches, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some additional changes by next Thursday.

Football!

Youth Movement in the Trenches

Written August 24th, 2010 by Jim

The next big thing in the middle?

There are a lot of things to get excited about for the upcoming season.

Returning starters, award candidates, dominating lineman, dynamic receivers,¬† depth at running back, hard hitting linebackers, the most experienced offensive line in years… take your pick.

Whatever you want to talk about in the last days before kickoff, there is probably something that causes optimism to burst forth in the hearts and minds of Buckeyes everywhere.

It is difficult to narrow the list and pick just one thing to be the most excited about, but the young guys on the offensive and defensive lines are a dark horse candidate.

Depth in the trenches is crucial for any team to make a championship run, and the young lineman at Ohio State are proving in practice that they are up to the challenge of seeing the field.

If you haven’t already, add youth in the trenches to your numerous sources of optimism and excitement. Read More

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