Johnson Energizes Defensive Line, Smith Keys Rise in Receiving Corps

By Kyle Rowland on March 27, 2014 at 7:19p

How good – or intimidating – is Ohio State’s defensive line? Enough to overwhelm Darryl Baldwin. That revelation from the presumed starting right tackle came last week, though he admitted he’s now comfortable going against what is arguably the team’s strongest unit.

Still, the sentiment isn’t lost. The Buckeyes’ quartet of Noah Spence, Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington makes life difficult on opposing offensive lines. Those four alone totaled 174 tackles, 43.5 tackles for loss, 24.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries last season.

If you’re curious as to why Johnson left Penn State and landed in Columbus with such excitement, you have your answer.

“I think it’s a very talented young group,” he said. “I’m really excited to impart my wisdom to these guys and see how they respond.”


  • Johnson said the practices have been very competitive. He wants Ohio State to employ an eight- or nine-man rotation, so it’s ratcheted up the intensity. The need for so much depth is due to up-tempo offenses. Johnson said teams can easily go from 65 to 90 plays.
  • The rotating will occur in the middle of the field and near the goal line, according to Johnson.
  • After such a noteworthy freshman season, Johnson said Joey Bosa will enter 2014 as a marked man.  
  • The history and tradition of the Ohio State defense is the Silver Bullets, Johnson said, so it isn’t a tough sell to the team.
  • Johnson said Noah Spence, who will miss the first two games, has worked hard on and off the field. He’s pleased with the effort.
  • A possible captain this fall is Michael Bennett. Johnson spoke highly of his leadership skills and said he’s impressive on and off the field. Bennett said it’s important to be a captain and if he isn’t, it means he’s not on the right track.
  • For Chris Carter, it’s baby steps, according to Johnson. Everything is day-to-day, but Ohio State has high hopes for the big guy.
  • Bennett said there isn’t a huge difference in coaching when it comes to Johnson and Mike Vrabel. He said the most notable change is Johnson doesn’t curse.
  • Asked which guys have added depth, Bennett said he could rattle off every name. But Donovan Munger, Tyquan Lewis, Tracy Sprinkle, Rashad Frazier and Steve Miller were the main guys. And he said they get better each practice.
  • Bennett said Adolphus Washington has improved tremendously during the offseason. He said he’s busting through double teams in practice with regularity.
  • Bennett didn’t shy away from a question about the defensive line potentially being dominant this season. “Yes, very good. We expect it.”
  • Dontre Wilson said he wanted the No. 2 last season, but couldn’t because Jordan Hall had it.
  • In the couple months since the Orange Bowl, Wilson’s beefed up to 190 pounds.
  • Last year didn’t turn out how he wanted, but he’s much more involved now at the H. Wilson said he feels like he’s a wide receiver until he gets the ball. Then he goes into running back mode.
  • There were frustrating times in 2013 because Wilson felt more like a decoy instead of being part of the offense.
  • During the offseason, Wilson said he watched film of last year’s games and also watched film of NFL games to learn little things. He’s immersed himself in the playbook and is learning “next level stuff.”
  • Zach Smith said Michael Thomas’s redshirt came out after a poor fall camp last year. Thomas was sat during the opener to send a message. Then the coaches decided they didn’t want to waste a year of eligibility. 


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