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