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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BuckeyeLuv's picture

Is there any word on Jamal Marcus?


Always BuckeyeLuv!

+9 HS
otrain2416's picture

As well as he played during the orange bowl, its disappointing and scary we're not hearing about him. Something smells fishy about that whole situation. 

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

+7 HS
lsjSnail's picture

I agree, he was a beast when he got playing time. Something isn't right.

+1 HS
OfficerRabbit's picture

Kick me in the ass, I forgot about J Marcus! He was an absolute stud when he was given time on the field. Some guys just know how to "bring it" when given the opportunity, I hope he gets on the field more.

He kind of has a Kenny G vibe about him.



MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

Loving this stuff about Bennett and how he seems to be a natural leader for the defensive line and the entire team.  This D-Line has so much young talent, like Johnson said, and I can't wait to see them tear it up this year!

+1 HS
SilverState's picture

He wants Ohio State to employ an eight- or nine-man rotation


 Wilson’s beefed up to 190 pounds



+12 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Interesting about Thomas. In fact, I think this is the only we've really heard about him this spring and that wasn't necessarily glowing. With Greene in the mix, Corey Smith adding size as well as Thomas I hope to see 5 to 6 guys contribute at the WR position from big to small, burners to physical receivers. The options are quite robust.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

+1 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

well you must have missed where Urban himself said the four standout WR are Corey, Devin, Mike Thomas, and Dixon.

Its obvious in that statement above that they think Mike is good enough to play but after he had his rough fall they sat him for one game to punish him, then they decided they didn't want to burn a year to have him play behind Devin, Evan and Philly. So I really think he is going to be a player this year to watch because he is in the mix for some big PT instead of being a backup.

I think Evan Spencer gets passed over by both Thomas and Corey Smith. I think the 4 main wideouts will be Devin, Dontre, Mike and Corey. Backups will be Spencer, Dixon, Greene and James Clark (who is really not being talked about)

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

+1 HS
Kaceybrown's picture

How's Clark doing with his recovery? Could that be the cause of him not shining yet? 

havent been able to get on here much lately, so a little lost on some of these guys. 

Seattle Linga's picture

I really like where we are at right now. 

Hovenaut's picture

Great updates across the board.

Happy to read Noah Spence is working hard and staying focused despite the suspension to start the season.

Also like the comment on Washington, hoping he turns it on this fall.

+5 HS
1MechEng's picture

Bennett said Adolphus Washington has improved tremendously during the offseason. He said he’s busting through double teams in practice with regularity.

Is this Diesel being unstoppable, or the revamped O-line still needing some work to gel?

+3 HS
osu07asu10's picture

I'd say both but if you're getting through double teams, probably the former more so than the latter

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

+1 HS
rjsmitty's picture

If you were at the Spring Game last year you would see Diesel in the backfield regularly, and that was against our O line. It just didnt translate to the season as much. Diesel had a decent season but after what I saw at the Spring Game I have to admit I was a little disappointed in his performance last year. Also have to take into account that he dealt with a lingering hamstring issue most of the season. Hope he makes it happen this year. I am rooting for him!

"I don't wanna coach average! To hell with that!"  -UFM

Squirrel Master's picture

he was actually dealing with something worse, a groin injury. Hamstrings can last all season but so can a groin injury and its more aggravating for a player trying to rush hard at a 300lb player and then RB/QB.

Diesel was a disappointment but for a pretty good reason. Plus Bosa coming on strong didn't help the matter either.

I think with this line starting the season with those four playing together, we will see a difference. Especially if the back 7 can contain enough to give the line time to do damage!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

rjsmitty's picture

Agreed Squirrel, the back 7 will be critical. If they give the front 4 any time they will be a Scarlett Tsunami!

"I don't wanna coach average! To hell with that!"  -UFM

DannyBeane's picture

Hopefully if our new defensive coaches are gelling and everyone is buying in our Silver Bullets will be making other team's quarterbacks a little bit frantic... tick tick tick tick 


+1 HS
mattanderson1985's picture

How much did Wilson weigh at the Orange Bowl

703Buckeye's picture

About 170-175.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

Woodysghost's picture

I have a feeling the silver bullets will be in prime form this season. 

AZBuckeyePhan's picture

Using an 8-9 man rotation is something Vrabel did not do enough of in my opinion. I love that LJ always uses a big rotation. Our guys will be fresh come 4th quarter. Still a long way to go but I am encouraged at the signs of the D getting better. (I guess it couldn't have got much worse but still...)

+5 HS
osu07asu10's picture

It is awfully tough to argue with the results Vrabel got from the DL last year.  That being said, Tress/Heacock/Fickell I believe all used a fairly deep rotation on the line and I certainly don't mind us getting back to that. Rest assured, Spence, Washington, Bennett, and Bosa will be out there in crunch time!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

+1 HS
Nutinpa's picture

No disrespect....but you and many others may be over-estimating the "results Vrabel got from the DL last year".   

If you don't believe me, just look at tape from the last 3 games of the year.  With the exception of Bosa, they were not as "dominant" or as "sick" as many in this fanbase led themselves to believe.  Not even close.

seafus26's picture

Joey Bosa was a shell of himself due to injury and fatigue in that bowl game. For that matter, so was Braxton. It's good to hear defensive coaches won't let this happen again with the athletes we have waiting to step in.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+3 HS
Jeremypreemo81's picture

agreed AZBuckeye. An 8-9 man front is going to wreak HAVOC on opposing teams. If this rotation does happen we will always have fresh bodies in there and we would own the 4th qtr on D

+1 HS
Buckeye in the ATL's picture

These updates are much appreciated, but such the tease, can't wait for August!

Buckeye in the ATL

sgehrich's picture

Like where the D line is. If the back 7 can come close it being where the line is, the silver bullets could be back this year. Couple that with a high flying Meyer/Herman offense, and it could be a dominating year. 

+1 HS
Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Glad we finally got a few pics of coach Johnson wearing Buckeye gear instead of the tired blue stuff!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

+3 HS
buckeyeguy0615's picture

One thing I know for sure is Wilson does NOT weigh 190. I see him every day and he's shorter than me. No way possible.

CGroverL's picture

I saw him all happy that he had been with Marotti and he was so very pleased to have reached 190. He was listed at 5'10" and 174 pounds last year.....If you are correct that there is NO WAY he weighs 190, he didn't gain very much at all. His gain was a 16 pound gain at 190......Well, I saw Harvin listed at 5'11 and 185 pounds last week. Being that both Wilson and Harvin came into college at almost exactly the same size, weight, and running times in the 40 and 100, I think that Wilson anywhere heavier than 180 should be acceptable and a better playing weight. I TOTALLY believe you about Wilson being <190 simply because 16 pounds would HAVE to take away from his speed, wouldn't ya think? Harvin has NEVER weighed 190....the idea is to outrun people for Wilson anyway. I never thought of him needing to run anyone over.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



Colorado Johnny's picture

Those writers have faces made for writing. Yikes

-1 HS
Ericgobucks's picture

Great write-up. Lots of good info here. 

hit_the_couch's picture

I hope something is going on with the secondary.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+1 HS
CaliforniaBuckeye's picture

Reading comments from the D-Line on plenty of sites saying that Johnson has more of a "positive approach", and is more of a teacher. I knew this was a great hire when I found out. He was stuck in Happy Valley (meh) for all those years, can't wait to see what he does with the talent in Columbus! I think simplifying the responsibilities for the back 7 would make them better players than they were last year. To much thinking on the defense last year, you could tell every time we gave up a big play, the secondary would just turn around and look at each other. 



"The only way we'd get beaten was if we got a little fat-headed, if we didn't train right, if we had dissension on the squad." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

I was hoping to hear about Tommy Schutt being involved in thr rotation as well.

+1 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

Johnson mentioned him on the video. Said he was doing well after fighting injuries last year.

Barnsey69's picture

I love having LJ here, not to take anything away from Vrabs, but LJ is a definite upgrade on the sideline. This unit has that Guns-n-Roses feel or AFD (Appetite For Destruction)...gonna be a good year for the defense I can feel it.

Go Bucks!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

CGroverL's picture

Of course, this band is too heavy for anyone older than me (I'm 41) but they also are too heavy and fast for anyone younger, too.....

Try listening to Kreator while watching Buckeye highlights. They make Metallica and Guns-N-Roses sound like elevator music. Kreator will hype you up and clean your ears out like a q-tip from hell. I'm sure that anyone that hears my favorite band will hate them, but this old man listens to REAL metal before getting out the Ohio State fight song on game days. Keep your Excedrine ready if you can't handle it, kids! Go Buckeyes!!!

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



NitroBuck's picture

Baldwin and the OL guys facing that D-Line crew every day in practice is probably the best thing that could happen for them.  If they learn to hold their own, the O-Line will be well on their way to becoming the strong position group we need. 

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
ChazBuckeye's picture

Can any staff from 11W give us any info on Jamal Marcus???  

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.

+4 HS