Ohio State's 2014 Defensive Line Will Be Destroyers of Worlds

By Michael Citro on April 20, 2014 at 8:15a

Ohio State’s defensive line is going to demolish many an offensive line this season.

The previous line is an assumption, rooted in fact, which sounds like an opinion. But a quick look at the facts supports that opening assumption.

 It all starts with the fact that the line was easily Ohio State’s best defensive unit in 2013. Michael Bennett, Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Joey Bosa, and others contributed to whatever little success the defense had — in stopping the run, primarily, but also in producing sacks against the passing game, on those rare occasions when an opposing receiver wasn’t immediately open against the Buckeye secondary.

The Buckeye defense produced 42 sacks in 2013 and you could probably count the number of coverage sacks on one finger. OSU opponents lost nearly three full football fields in sack yardage on those 42 sacks. The Buckeyes finished ninth in the nation in rush defense, allowing 109.4 yards per game.

And the entire starting defensive line returns in 2014.

But wait (as they say in cheesy commercials), there’s more.

 The Buckeyes also return key backups like Jamal Marcus, Steve Miller and Chris Carter, and former starter Tommy Schutt. Talented youngsters like Tyquan Lewis, Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle are coming on. And Purdue transfer Rashad Frazier showed flashes of brilliance in the Spring Game and has some of his teammates talking him up.

On top of all that, Ohio State traded up at defensive line coach. As good a coach and recruiter as Mike Vrabel was, Larry Johnson Sr. has been one of the best in the country at both tasks for several years.

Johnson loves to rotate his defensive linemen to keep them fresh. Vrabel kept his starters on the field for most of the snaps.

 Imagine a fresh Bosa, Bennett, Washington and Spence getting after the quarterback late in the fourth quarter on a key third-and-long. Now imagine Chris Ash’s defensive backs playing a tight, aggressive coverage shell behind them, giving the front four even more time to get into the backfield.

And now, if you’re so inclined, give a moment of silence for the offensive lines that a rested OSU front four will destroy this fall under those circumstances, and keep the families of those quarterbacks in your thoughts and prayers.

There will be all kinds of fun defensive line combinations for Johnson to tinker with, and it will start immediately, due to Spence’s suspension for the first two games of the 2014 season. Marcus did a nice job filling in for Spence in the Orange Bowl. But Lewis came on very strong in spring practice. Several youngsters are ready to start staking their claim to playing time and we saw some of that in the Spring Game. 

With Johnson coaching, four returning players starting, and a depth which we've not seen in quite some time, the 2014 Buckeye defensive line has a shot at being the best in recent memory.

Let’s take a look at the primary cast of characters (and this doesn’t even take into account incoming freshmen like Jalyn Holmes and Darius Slade):

No. Name HT wt YR Hometown
8 Noah Spence 6-3 252 JR Harrisburg, PA
34 Jamal Marcus 6-1 243 JR Durham, NC
52 Donovan Munger 6-4 306 SO Shaker Heights, OH
59 Tyquan Lewis 6-3 260 SO Tarboro, NC
63 Michael Bennett 6-2 288 SR Centerville, OH
72 Chris Carter 6-4 342 JR Cleveland, OH
77 Michael Hill 6-2 315 SO Pendleton, SC
88 Steve Miller 6-3 255 SR Canton, OH
90 Tommy Schutt 6-2 300 JR Glen Ellyn, IL
92 Adolphus Washington 6-4 288 JR Cincinnati, OH
93 Tracy Sprinkle 6-3 283 FR Elyria, OH
94 Rashad Frazier 6-4 272 SR Middletown, OH
97 Joey Bosa 6-5 285 SO Fort Lauderdale, FL



Comments Show All Comments

LouGroza's picture

That list is impressive. They can all contribute. Your statement about imagining a fresh dline in the fourth quarter with tight coverage is what defensive dreams are made of.

+5 HS
B1G 10 Buckeye Stuck in SEC Country's picture

Very nice write up Michael.  By far the best thing I've read here from an interest standpoint in a LONG time. 

" Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." - John Wayne 

-1 HS
German Buckeye's picture

It's a free site, stop whining.  I appreciate 11W and content freely given. Keep it up boys. 

Mortc15's picture

I do have a question regarding Tommy Schutt. How is his name pronounced, as I've never actually heard it said? "Shoot" or "Shut" or? Thanks in advance to anyone who answers! 


BuckeyeStrong2's picture

I believe it's 'shut'.

Imagine a fresh Joey Bosa coming around the edge and either sacking the QB or forcing a quick pass... that one of our DB's (that finally will be taught not to give a 75 yard cushion) will be jumping for INT's and Pick-sixes.... It's going to be a fun year! 


+7 HS
CC's picture

Better yet, imagine the feeling Ash got when he first looked at his d-line roster and coach.  A D-Coordinator's dream to start with that D-Line.  Rush the passer, check, stop the run check.


FitzBuck's picture

Two deep?  There is enough talent on this list to create a three deep.  Johnson is going to have a lot of fun.

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+8 HS
chirobuck's picture

Noooooo kidding.....and not even that, there is enough versatility to try endless combinations for different situations and different weaknesses of opposing teams.....I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to watch this D line next year


^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
D. Anthony's picture

We did such a disservice to our line last year by playing off the receivers allowing a lot of QB's to get rid of the ball immediately...just by committing to press coverage more will give our line the opportunity to get so many more hits on the QB.

D. Anthony

+1 HS
route4buckeye's picture

You also forgot Dylan Thompson along with Holmes and Slade. He's going to be great. So underrated.

+5 HS
Colorado Johnny's picture

I just laugh with both excitement and embarrassment when I see only THREE seniors on that impressive list. Excited that it appears to be a strength of ours for many years to come. Embarrassed for those opposing teams QBs. Especially Devin Gardner. Oh, Devin. Your career at scUM will end so badly. As it should, as it has for many of those before you. 

+5 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

I have not read this story yet. I opened it up and the first thing I did was put my hand over my eyes, almost in fear or disbelief, and said, "I can't believe how big Bosa is."

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

+2 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

ok, now I am pumped after reading it, and I am still scared of Bosa

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

+4 HS
bdegroff's picture

Yeah, and just think, he's only a sophomore...

Osurrt's picture

And rumors are his baby brother is ahead of where Joey was at this age in high school........Lil Bosa come on to OSU

chirobuck's picture

yeah that is a grown ass man.....err.........manchild


^ best post ever ^

jonping67's picture

BuckeyeNation - We could have one of the best defenses, not just D-lines, in the nation. Our front 4 is going to be the best I've seen since I started following OSU football back in the late 70's. Not only are the starters incredibly talented, but we will be 2 to 3 deep.

I think we all know what the problem was with the back 7 (He took a head coaching job elsewhere), shit, Coach Coombs had to bite his tongue during several interviews this spring, which is all I needed to see to firm up my suspicions. Ash, Fickell, Johnson and Coombs will have our D-issues resolved before game 1.

Add in Booker, Berger and Hubbard at LB and Webb, Lattimore and Eric Smith in the secondary and we get even deeper.

Can't wait for August! GO BUCKS!

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I really like Johnson's idea of rotating linemen throughout the game. Keep the players fresh and also get the 2nd and 3rd stringers playing time. It's a win/win for everybody. I'm so jacked about Johnson and Ash and the new and improved Silver Bullets.



chirobuck's picture

yeah they would be crazy not to take advantage of the insane depth we have.....I really hope they trust the other guys in big games to get them in a decent amount at least in the first halves


^ best post ever ^

BME_Buckeye's picture

I'll wait before I blow my load about our defensive line and see it with my own eyes. It's one thing to look nice on paper,  and another to live up to expectations. We saw last year all the hype about our secondary going into last year and then they shit the bed hardcore. I don't think the line will fail to meet expectations but I'll wait before I fall for the hype. 

These guys need to meet the expectations of silver bullet defense and smash opposing offensive lines.

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


+4 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

The Buckeye defense produced 42 sacks in 2013 and you could probably count the number of coverage sacks on one finger. OSU opponents lost nearly three full football fields in sack yardage on those 42 sacks. The Buckeyes finished ninth in the nation in rush defense, allowing 109.4 yards per game.

The proof is right there BME, and that was with a horrible back 7. Yes there was a ton of hype with the secondary last year but it wasn't a proven secondary like this Dline is. And I still point to the fact the scheme was more the culprit than the talent last year. With an adjusted scheme and proven starting 4, and depth, I don't think this is as much "hype" as it is just pointing out the facts. This Dline got sacks, TFL and excellent rushing defensive stats. They proved how good they were despite the troubles overall.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

chirobuck's picture

I want to argue your point but I just can't.....I still do think they will be dominant though


^ best post ever ^

Oneida54's picture

This is Meyers third year..I am in show-me mode..the hyperbole over this team from observers the last year was wrong. For example, our passing game would improve a lot, Grant and Roby would shut down receivers.  Watkins and Abberderis over 400 yds, and even scUM threw all over them. The proof is in the success of the Whole Defense not just one unit,they need to compliment each other,

buckguyfan1's picture

Release the Hounds!

+3 HS
Horvath22's picture

I admit the potential is there, with a so far proven commodity, but I'm a proof of the pudding kind of a guy.

Buckeye in the ATL's picture

I wonder how last year's starters feel about diminished playing time.  Young studs like to be in the spotlight and in the mix of things on the field of battle...."are you not entertained!?"  That said, Coach Myer is developing a new culture of leadership and team first so I believe these guys will go even harder while on the field thinking its time to shine with limited time.  Plus having fresher legs due to the platooning will erase any animosity due to increased production driving defensive stats even higher.  Go Bucks!

Buckeye in the ATL

Seattle Linga's picture

With the rotation that they use getting tired and winded won't be an issue this year. Love the depth of the line.

Bosa's gonna have another unbelievable year.


+1 HS
KBonay's picture

One of the ways to counter an aggressive D-line is the throwback screen, which was our kryptonite last year. Hopefully the press coverage and emergence of the LB's will help. 

The Rill Dill's picture

Can we lose the 'throwback' screen terminology, please?  This isn't Pop Warner.  'Screen' will do. If your LB group is worth a damn, the screen shouldn't ever work. It's like the term,  'zone read'.  You are not reading a zone, AT ALL-----you are reading a MAN.  While we're at it---can we NOT add 'er' after LB?  The 'er' is already part of the word. 

-2 HS
cdub4's picture

Take a deep breath.

+2 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

Did the Easter bunny forget you this year?

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

+3 HS
Mortc15's picture

I believe the "zone" part of the play call involves the blocking technique of the linemen. They all block downhill to the play side. The read part is based on one player, but the line is entirely a zone blocking concept and each play they may block someone different based on alignment. 


KBonay's picture

@ Rill Dill- Well, yeah there is a difference.  And if you think lumping all the different looks into a general term, 'screen' you are not watching today's game very well. 

Also, if  you're going to put your grammar police hat on, at least ticket me for a correct violation.  LB's would imply more than one Line Backer.  Not sure where you got the 'er' from. 

-1 HS
Homey1970's picture

What, did Ken Griffey Jr. steal your pixie stick or something?

+1 HS
I_Run_The_Dave's picture

Better than Derek Jeter stealing your girlfriend.

chirobuck's picture

your comment sucks......like the whole damn thing.......it just sucks


^ best post ever ^

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Exciting prospect with excellent facts and metrics, thanks for making my day even better with this read Mr. Citro!

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Oneida54's picture

Perry was late to every screen Boyd threw..hopefully Lee/Worley will be quicker to the perimeter.

D-Day0043's picture

My goodness Chris Carter is a big boy. He's a biscuit shy of 350 pounds. 

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Jeremypreemo81's picture

We got some grown men on our D-line, B1G teams better hope their O-lines eat their Wheaties before playing us.


The picture in this article-I am all in for good sportsmanship but just not for SCUM I am not sure I would've helped Devin up after I hit him.

Michael Citro's picture

But if he doesn't get up, you can't hit him again.

Barnsey69's picture

1000 up-votes young grasshopper.

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!

Barnsey69's picture

This unit, with even moderate improvement behind it from secondary and LB's will dominate any OL in the B1G. And if they don't, Citro will eat his shoe.

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!

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

on those rare occasions when an opposing receiver wasn’t immediately open against the Buckeye secondary.


GVerrilli92's picture

Per Scout,

Slade - 3*
Holmes - 4*
Thompson - 3*

Michael Hill - 4*
Billy Price - 4*
Donovan Munger - 4*
Joey Bosa - 5*
Tyquan Lewis - 4*
Tracy Sprinkle - 3*

Tommy Schutt - 5*
Noah Spence - 5*
Adolphus Washington - 5*
Jamal Marcus - 4*

Michael Bennett - 4*
Steve Miller - 5*

We're so loaded. The D line is reason enough to be excited about this year. It's time for that insane 2012 recruiting class to come alive, as those first UM DLine recruits are now the backbone of his team.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

MikeNugents BigToe's picture

"We're coming for you"

"Remember that 55 yarder against Marshall?" -Not Mike Nugent

achris10's picture

Great post Michael.

I think you did a really great job highlighting some of the names we can expect to see wreaking havoc in opposing backfields during the 2014 campaign. This year's defensive line is incredibly deep.  While there's certainly plenty of talent, I don't see one guy on this defensive line who stands above the rest, which is actually just indicative of the amount of talent throughout this group.  This defensive line will be well balanced in terms of stopping the run and getting after the quarterback. I'm really looking forward to seeing which 8-10 guys really solidify to form the regular rotation for the 2014 Buckeyes defensive line.  

The thought of more talented freshmen coming in is music to Buckeyes fans' ears.  As if this group couldn't get any better, there will be more talented young men just like them, ready to step in when called upon.  Freshmen these days are often ready to step into the spotlight immediately.

I'm most looking forward to seeing Joey Bosa improve upon his stellar freshman campaign.  I exclusively watched Bosa against Northwestern last season, and fell in love with his style of play. He's got a high motor, and what seems like a burning desire to get into the backfield.  

Thanks for the post,


chrisco1987's picture

Can you imagine how jacked up these guys will be when the QB's cant just dump off short pass?  And have to stay there and take the hit!  Awesome

There's only one way to succeed in anything,
and that is to give it everything.
-Vince Lombardi