If Only for A Season: Defense

By Chris Lauderback on May 19, 2009 at 7:00 am
Antwizzy WinfizzyWinfield: Best. OSU. Corner. Ever.

Last week, we took a look at which offensive position and player we would upgrade if given the chance to pluck one guy from the last 20 years and insert him into the '09 Buckeye offense. The questionable offensive line was the overwhelming choice for bolstering meaning Orlando Pace won in a landslide which isn't a surprise considering, as Sam put it, he's probably the best college football player in the last 20 years period.

This week might bring a little more debate as we turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line appears to be a strength by committee but lacks a true superstar unless Gibson consistently blows up and while it's not a glaring weakness, the interior still has to prove how stout it will be against elite competition. The linebackers are similar in that the corps appears to be rich in talent but none of them have a proven resume that jumps off the page.

The secondary stands out as the most likely area to upgrade with Jenkins and D-Wash taking their games to Sunday and I can count at least a few folks less than enamored with the returning safety combo of Russell and Coleman. Consider me on board the Coleman bandwagon but there's certainly some past Buckeyes who could help at the other safety spot.

My first instinct says this could be another no brainer but let's take a look at each unit to make certain.

Defensive Line What we know is Heacock appears to have some serious depth this season with the likes of Thaddeus Maximus, Wilson, Thomas and Williams vying for time on the edge with Heyward (DE/DT), Worthington, Denlinger and Larimore likely to see most of the snaps on the interior. The depth should keep the line fresh hopefully allowing the Bucks to wear teams down by the 4th quarter but I'm waiting to be convinced any of those guys are legit game changers.

If this is your area of opportunity, you'd have to lean toward Vrabel or the Fresh Prince but as much as they'd add to the existing line, I think it's safe to say most of us would pass on upgrading up front simply because the other units seem to pose a greater need.

Linebacker As with the defensive line, I think most of us are excited about the potential the current crop of LB's bring to the table but I'd much rather be excited about having proven badasses returning. I think we've all learned potential can sometimes be a dirty word and there's no doubt we've been spoiled with the amazingly consistent luxury of having at least one returning LB on which to hang our hat.

If the line does live up to its billing, a great LB would have plenty of room to roam and cause havoc making it a prime spot for an upgrade. Homan showed he's capable if not spectacular while Rolle and Moeller have created a buzz with their play making ability and Spitler is sure to see time as a fifth year guy. Sabino and Sweat are waiting in the wings so the depth is there but I don't see an All-American in this group - at least not in 2009.

So, what's the play here? Even with the strong depth, can you pass up an opportunity to plug A.J. Hawk or Andy Katzenmoyer into this team and give it a superstar LB flying around behind an at least above average line?

Secondary With only one corner spot truly locked down, upgrading at corner seems to be the most obvious choice. I've got confidence in Chekwa but I'd have that much more confidence if he was covering the opponent's second best receiver. Considering whoever emerges from the unproven combo of Andre Amos and Devon Torrence is your starting corner opposite Chekwa and which position to upgrade is starting to look like another slam dunk.

However, maybe you think Heacock will again play such a high percentage of zone that you aren't as concerned about the corner spots. With the experience at safety and the potential for the defensive line to gain pressure without the aid of a blitz it's certainly feasible man to man will be shelved more often than not.

The Pick Looking at the current roster and the former greats to choose from, I think it's safe to say this one comes down to linebacker or corner. If I go linebacker, I'm taking Hawk. I love the Big Kat but it's hard to pass up A.J. and his flowing locks. In the secondary, I heart Malcolm Jenkins but there's no way any of us could pass up adding Antoine Winfield.

Head to head, I give Winfield the edge over Hawk and the selection becomes even more of a lock when looking at the existing roster combined with the fact OSU will again play a lot more nickel than base. I'm confident two LBs from the current crop can step up and the need for five guys who can defend the pass is too much to ignore.

'Toine lengthens the lineup of cover guys in a way that can't be ignored and with his remarkable ability to support the run he's the obvious choice. Antoine, go grab your jersey.

So what do you think? Another no doubter on our hands this week?