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.
Defensive line seems to be the one position group on that side of the ball where there aren't any position battles going on.
|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.
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.
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.
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.
- Ohio State has 19 defensive lineman on its roster.
- Freshman Tracy Sprinkle was reinstated and has been practicing with the team after charges filed against him stemming from an incident at a bar were dropped.
- Bennett and Bosa were both recently named to the USA Today's Preseason All-American college football second team.