D-Line's Unselfish Play Key to Shutting Down Badger Runners

By Michael Citro on September 30, 2013 at 2:30p
Michael Bennett and his linemates mostly blew up Wisconsin's running game.

One of the key concerns for Ohio State entering the 2013 season was how four new starters on the defensive line would hold up against a team determined to pound the football directly at it over the course of 60 minutes.

Before Saturday, we simply didn’t know if Michael Bennett, Adolphus Washington, Joel Hale and Noah Spence (with a side order of freshman Joey Bosa and emerging talent Chris Carter) could stand up to a direct frontal assault. The Buckeyes had not faced a team capable of presenting such problems.

After Wisconsin’s visit to Ohio Stadium resulted in 104 yards rushing — more than 200 yards below its season average (albeit against some suspect defenses) — Buckeye fans may be breathing a bit easier on that score. With Washington and Bennett returning from injuries, the OSU defensive line acquitted itself well against the run game.

“We prepared this week to stop the run and we did,” Washington said. “They had to adjust and made the decision to throw the ball more.”

The defensive line combined for only eight tackles in the game, led by Bennett’s four (that includes a sack). But the important thing the defensive line did on Saturday night was to play an unselfish game based on the game plan.

Simply put, Ohio State’s D-line kept Wisconsin’s offensive linemen busy. Without the ability to get to the second level and take out Ryan Shazier, Curtis Grant, Josh Perry or the OSU secondary, Wisconsin’s big uglies weren’t able to create big plays in the run game.

Melvin Gordon popped a 16-yarder and James White added a 17-yard touchdown when the Buckeyes failed to seal the left edge, on what was a nice adjustment at the line by Joel Stave before the snap. That’s it.

The Buckeyes in the back seven were free to roam and make plays all night long, led by Ryan Shazier’s team high nine tackles (2.5 for loss). Bradley Roby made eight stops — some due to Wisconsin’s need to throw, and some out on the edge on running plays, where a missed tackle could have led to explosive plays. Joshua Perry had a career high seven tackles and Curtis Grant added seven more, as the linebackers performed well versus the ground game.

NOM NOM NOM NOM.Michael Bennett led the charge for the OSU defensive line.

The Badgers gained only six first downs via the run all night long. Gordon put up 74 yards rushing and White added 31. Both were averaging more than 100 yards per game entering Saturday night.

But Ohio State’s defensive line helped keep both explosive backs under control, which in turn led to the Buckeyes improving to 5-0 and taking the early driver’s seat in the race for the Leaders (Legends?) Division title.

“I really think we showed to the country that we can stop the run and that we're not anybody to be messing around with,” Shazier said. “They have a great offensive line, and I feel like our D-line is going to be great also.”


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Maestro's picture

Really love watching Bennett play.  Glad to see Washington back, hopefully he keeps getting healthier.

vacuuming sucks

Doc's picture

Kyle, here's to hoping you write a similar story next week about the defense limiting Nerdwesterns aerial attack.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Maestro's picture

Very balanced attack from those nerds.  999 rushing yards, 935 passing yards this season.

vacuuming sucks

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

More about creases and creating running lanes than pounding it up the middle. Venric Mark has been banged up, too, so I'm not imagining too much between the tackles work from him.

Michael Citro's picture

Shhhh, I told you Kyle's my secret nickname.

ChazBuckeye's picture

OSU did a great job up front.  The DBs were another story...
Great article Michael Citro;-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

sharks's picture

I was ecstatic watching them Saturday. They didn't rack up stats, but they were stout, disciplined, and tied up them big Wisky linemen and really let the linebackers go to work. That game was won on the lines, and ours were better on both sides of the ball.

A man got to have a code...

steveoz49's picture

Nice job boys!
Bosa, for a true freshman, is a handful!!!!!  Reminds me of a John Simon type.

ChazBuckeye's picture

Me too...or a couple other guys on staff right now.  However not when they were Freshmen;-)  Not sure they were able to squat 500 lbs 8xs as 17/18 year olds.  Not to mention standing back flips.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Wesleyburgess1's picture

I think that in 2 years we'll have the best d-line in college football. There young and inexperienced. Once they gain some experience and bond as a group they will play so well as a single unit. They aren't gonna lose one guy every year like normal, they'll be together for 3 years. Every single one of these front seven were very highly touted players coming out of high school.

RBuck's picture

Defensive Line U.
(we just reload)

Long live the southend.

MN Buckeye's picture

Unselfish being the key word here. This is why you win as a team and lose as a group of individuals. 

741's picture

Has anyone else been surprised by how fast Cris Carter is?

Maestro's picture

Cris or Chris?

vacuuming sucks

osupolo's picture

Great to see C Grant and Perry have a good game. 

45OH4IO's picture

Very impressed with how the guys did against the run. Now they have to be able to pin their ears back and go get the QB once the opposition is one dimensional.
I loved that tOSU didn't adapt to the pass attack and stuck to their guns stopping the run. They forced Wisky to change their identity and try to win by being something they aren't and it worked. Stave did very well. Hats off to him, but it's undeniable that the Buckeyes imposed their will at the D line and Wisky passed out of necessity.
Roby needs to lock down some guys the rest of the year, because if not his draft stock will take a major hit.

Hovenaut's picture

Pretty impressive showing, and we've yet to see full disruptiveness (pass rush) from this unit. 
Went into the year thinking the secondary would be saving OSU's rear end to compensate for the d-line's inexperience. 
What a difference a few weeks make.