2014 Season Preview: Ohio State's Defensive Line

By Tim Shoemaker on August 18, 2014 at 8:15a
Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa, Noah Spence and the rest of the Ohio State defensive line figure to get loose this season.
31 Comments
Eleven Warriors' 2014 Ohio State Football Season Preview

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has often raved about the dominance of his defensive line at Florida during the 2006 season when the Gators defeated the Buckeyes, 41-14, to win the national championship.

That unit, which featured the likes of Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss, gave Ohio State's offensive line fits and had Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith scrambling for the majority of the game.

Although it hasn't played a single snap together yet in the 2014 season, Ohio State's defensive line has the potential to be on that same level. Add in new defensive line coach Larry Johnson and the expectations for this year's unit are sky high.

The Defensive Line in 2013

Ohio State's defensive line recorded 30.5 sacks a year ago and returns all but Chase Farris' 1.5. Farris was moved from the defensive line back to the offensive line this year after switching from offense to defense a year ago for depth purposes when Tommy Schutt went down with a foot injury.

Noah Spence, Joey Bosa and MIchael Bennett all had at least seven sacks a year ago and all three figure to be key to the success of this year's defensive line.

Bosa had a breakout campaign for Ohio State in 2013 as just a freshman with 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.

The Starters

Defensive line seems to be the one position group on that side of the ball where there aren't any position battles going on.

NO. POS NAME HT WT YR HOMETOWN
Ohio State Defensive Line Depth
63 DT BENNETT, MICHAEL 6-2 288 SR Centerville, OH
97 DE BOSA, JOEY 6-5 285 SO Fort Lauderdale, FL
72 DL CARTER, CHRIS 6-4 342 JR Cleveland, OH
17 DL FRAZIER, RASHAD 6-4 272 SR Middletown, OH
77 DL HILL, MICHAEL 6-2 315 FR Pendleton, SC
98 DL HOLMAN, JOHN 6-3 280 SR Riverdale, GA
10 DL HOLMES, JAYLN 6-4 249 FR Norfolk, VA
53 DL KARAGEORGE, KOSTA 6-3 263 SR Columbus, OH
59 DL LEWIS, TYQUAN 6-3 260 FR Tarboro, NC
88 DL MILLER, STEVE 6-3 255 SR Canton, OH
52 DL MUNGER, DONOVAN 6-4 306 FR Shaker Heights, OH
91 DL PARRY, AARON 6-5 255 SO Zanesville, OH
44 DL ROCK, CHRIS 6-5 275 JR Columbus, OH
90 DL SCHUTT, TOMMY 6-2 300 JR Glen Ellyn, IL
42 DL SLADE, DARIUS 6-4 237 FR Montclair, NJ
8 DE SPENCE, NOAH 6-3 252 JR Harrisburg, PA
93 DL SPRINKLE, TRACY 6-3 283 FR Elyria, OH
94 DL THOMPSON, DYLAN 6-4 275 FR Lombard, IL
92 DT WASHINGTON, ADOLPHUS 6-4 288 JR Cincinnati, OH

Bennett, Bosa, Spence and Adolphus Washington will be the four starting up front for the Buckeyes, but there will be a bit of a different look against Navy and Virginia Tech to open the season as Spence must sit out two games to finish a three-game suspension which began last year after a failed drug test.

A natural pass-rusher, Spence led the defensive line a year ago in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (14.5).

Bennett is the lone senior in the group and will be called on for leadership responsibilities. As a junior, the 6-foot-2, 288-pound Bennett recorded seven sacks and had 11.5 tackles for loss.

Washington has had to battle some minor injuries over his career to this point, but Meyer recently said the 6-foot-4, 288-pound junior could very well be the key to the defensive line's success.

The Backups

In addition to the four starting up front, this year's defensive line provides some quality depth.

In the absence of Spence for the first two games, Meyer said Steve Miller and Rashad Frazier have been competing to fill the void.

Schutt and Chris Carter are also among the defensive lineman who will be competing for playing time this season. Meyer said Schutt was the most improved players on the team this year. Meyer added freshman Jalyn Holmes will be in the mix, too. 

Overview

On a defense that has question marks in its linebacking corps and secondary, the defensive line should be the one unit the Buckeyes can consistently count on to perform.

NAME SOLO AST TOTAL LOSS SK
2013 DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
SPENCE, NOAH 24 28 52 14.5 8.0
BOSA, JOEY 29 15 44 13.5 7.5
BENNETT, MICHAEL 18 24 42 11.5 7.0
WASHINGTON, ADOLPHUS 18 18 36 4.0 2.0

Spence's production over the first two weeks will be difficult to replace, but Ohio State's depth will allow it to get through those two games.

Bennett and Bosa should provide the Buckeyes with some consistency from their respective positions on the line, and when Spence returns from suspension it gives Ohio State its best pure pass-rusher.

With a secondary that ranked 112th in the country in pass defense last year, Ohio State will need to get dominant play from its defensive line. If the Buckeyes can get pressure on opposing quarterbacks by rushing only four, it will make life in the secondary much easier.

ETC.

31 Comments

Comments

512buckeye's picture

So. Much. Depth. 

Let's party, Columbus.

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

The mid-90's dlines with Fickell, Vrabel and Matt Finkes were very good, as was Will Smith, Kenny Peterson and crew in 2002.

Scary to think this year's unit could be better than either of those, I think they live up to the hype.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

+6 HS
apack614's picture

That's what made us so great I feel like. We were able to get pressure on the QB by only rushing the front 4 and which allowed the linebackers to drop back in pass coverage.

"If we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
cinserious's picture

I think this year's team has the potential to eclipse those great Buckeye d-lines of the past.

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

+1 HS
hetuck's picture

The change in pass coverage will result in QBs holding onto the ball a second longer; hence, more sack opportunities. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+5 HS
Jpfbuck's picture

this unit last year already set the single season record for sacks with 42, (96 unit of Vrabel, Finkes, Fickell and Big Kat held it previously with 41)

to think they may get even better is amazing to ponder

+2 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

Bossy. Gonna be a great yearfor the D-line!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Vinsaniti's picture

This is the only position group that has no questions, other than will Steve Miller and Rashad Frazier be able to fill those giant shoes of Noah Spence for two games. Coach Johnson will have them ready.

OSUpawn's picture

Looking at that list I can't get over the size of those "kids". 

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

buckguyfan1's picture

So looking forward to seeing what Coach Larry Johnson can do with this group.  If we can truly have fresh legs in the fourth quarter on the D-Line, it could get scary fun.

+1 HS
immort9888's picture

I'm excited to see what Michael Hill can do.  He seems to fit the mold of a dominant interior lineman.

+1 HS
CC's picture

I beleive we are also missing a sack or two from Jamal Marcus.  I think not having Marcus and Spence for the first two games is a little scary, both were difference makers.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I was bummed about Marcus, too, but I'm not sure that his pass rush skills would be that helpful against Navy. Likewise with Spence. 

Now, we will probably miss Marcus's great "nose for the ball" in the run game against Navy. On the other hand, Miller and Frazier might be good temporary fits against Navy's option, since they're stout and disciplined players.   

Burritos Noches's picture

I want to see Chris Carter become the Big Daddy Hankins of 2014. Miss you, BDH.

"3 yards and a cloud of dust" - Woody "Pow Right In The Kisser" Hayes

+2 HS
Tater_Schroeder's picture

That's down right terrifying. 

How Firm Thy Friendship

dan_isaacs's picture

I've been wanting that for three years. :)

Dan Isaacs

Run_Fido_Run's picture

In other posts/threads, we've debated whether Florida's 2006 DL was really that superb. The argument against is that, supposedly, Florida had amazing secondary and LB units, respectively, that season, whereas the DL was just good. That might be true - I don't know.

The one point that I do wish to snuff out, though, is that the proof that Florida's DL wasn't that great is that it produced only marginal NFL talent. Sorry, but some of the best college players/units ever didn't produce NFL stars.

Fwiw, the 2006 Gators finished #6 in total defense and #6 in scoring defense, after playing Sagarin's #8 toughest schedule (Ohio State played Sagarin's #38 toughest schedule that season). 

+1 HS
TURD_BUCKET's picture

This defensive line how you win Championships.  It all starts and ends ( both side of the all ) in the trenches.

The coaches should have a good time with this group.

I remember in 1997 after the Buckeyes lost the Sugar Bowl to FSU that Coach Cooper commented on the fact that FSU rotated their D-line and wore out his O-line starters. He stated that his future teams would start to rotate their D-line more.

I tend to like that philosophy. If you have the depth, why not rotate the line to keep them fresh, especially for later in the year. Lots of ways to do it. Situational, by series, individually, by group, etc.

I'm anxious to see them perform this year. Keep the recruits coming LJSR!!!

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” John Wooden

Run_Fido_Run's picture

So, the first string DLmen are set, but what's the current best guess on second and third strings? Maybe something like . . .

2nd string: Miller, Schutt, C. Carter, Tyquan Lewis

3rd string: Frazier, M. Hill, Munger, J. Holmes

Other guys in the rotation: Slade, Sprinkle.

sivaDavis's picture

Schutt and Carter? Dear God...

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

osu07asu10's picture

Cliff notes version Yeah, we have the best D-Line in the nation...

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

Citrus's picture

Caught the DL hanging out the other day. Big guys. 

+1 HS
IH8UOFM's picture

Man........ Chris Rock is a mountain of a man

buckskin's picture

One thing for sure, I'll be happier when Bosa and Bennett are on the post season all American team. Even my phone knows that Bosa is a stud. It auto corrects his name to Boss.

Tater_Schroeder's picture

Quick,  someone tweet this article to Josh Sweat so he can see what a force the Buckeye Dline is. 

How Firm Thy Friendship

BeatTTUN's picture

Another positional group breakdown
Another opportunity for this Buckeye fan to say
"Goodness we are DEEP with Dudes"

I truly am excited to see how this complete football team performs this season. Both sides of the ball are filled with Dudes that want to make a name for themselves among the greats that have worn Scarlet and Gray.

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan

Shangheyed's picture

I am a little surprised Spence isn't getting more attention... he led the Unit last year but seems to be getting less press than Bosa and Bennet... maybe that is justified but seems most of the stories or news seems to be discounting his production from last year, even missing two games he's gonna be a beast when he gets back.

dan_isaacs's picture

He gets attention from those that really matter:  NFL scouts.

Dan Isaacs

NuttyBuckeye's picture

Spence not being able to play hurts, but seeing how he is more of a rush end and pass-rushing specialist, missing the Navy game won't hurt much.  Better to miss this game, than against a pass-heavy opponent.

This defense is going to be nastier than an ill-tempered Grizzly Bear with diaper rash.  If they don't end up the best defensive front four in the nation, many will be shocked.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

What happened with Tyquan Lewis?  During the spring I read he could be the guy to get the reps while Spence was out.  Now he isn't even mentioned.  Anyone know what has happened?

Curt Heinrichs's picture

I was unaware that Kosta Karageorge plays football. He's been the backup heavyweight on the Buckeye wrestling team for the past several years. 

Good for Fickell, Johnson, etc for allowing a wrestler to play defensive line. He probably won't sniff the starting lineup, but wrestlers are good at handfighting. At the very least, KK is going to help improve the offensive line as they'll have to work against him on a daily basis.