2020 Defense: New Talent Emerges, Probably Takes a Step Back to “Very Good”

Show All Comments

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I'm optimistic that talent, mixed with coaching and development, mixed with 1st team reps, mixed with some real world experience in winnable games will allow the young secondary to mature quickly.  Oregon could be a high scoring game if they find a QB before next fall.

HS
RollRedRoll's picture

Uh, didn’t Cooper redshirt? He will be one of the starters on the defensive line, so we should be pretty deep on the D-line next year. 

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

Correct, and Hilliard got a 6th year. I’ll adjust...

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
BuckeyeJay's picture

I really hope Tyreke Johnson puts it together. He is perfect for that slot corner position. I will feel a lot better about the defense if he develops into a starter. 

Zach Harrison's stats are almost identical to what Chase Young's were his Freshman year. Not that Zach will become Chase Young, but he is on the right trajectory. 

HS
BuckeyeSki's picture

Zach Harrison's stats are almost identical to what Chase Young's were his Freshman year. Not that Zach will become Chase Young, but he is on the right trajectory. 

Not to mention what Coach Mick will have him looking like after a winter in the dojo. I'd guess he gains a solid 15-20 pounds to his frame this offseason

Leave one wolf alive....and the sheep are never safe

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

This is true. I've been hoping for a similar trajectory.

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
nutabuckas's picture

Cooper will be a starter at d-end next season. Huge that he’s gonna be back, will need his leadership 

HS
southalabamabuckeye's picture

The improvement from 2018 to 2019 gives me great optimism that 2020 will have a great defense.

HS
IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Defense might be a tad less dominant but we'll still be hellaciously better than Oklahoma's D and those guys made the CFP with it anyway.

I could definitely see guys like Zach Harrison, Sevyn Banks, Josh Proctor, and Tyreke Smith making huge leaps in improvement. Banks, Proctor, and Smith will all be true juniors.

"I find your lack of kalua disturbing" - Darth Lebowski

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

If we dominate the Big 10 again, we will be back in the CFB playoff, unless we lose our division or have a blowout loss — and I see neither happening. PSU at PSU will be a game next year, and likely where the division is won or lost. 

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
tbdbitlbuck's picture

Exactly—we don’t necessarily need to be dominant, we just need to be in the area of like an LSU defense next year

HS
JT's picture

Would love to see Pope, Grant and Mitchell play.  

JTNYC

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

I think much of Buckeye nation would like to see what they can do with more reps and experience. 

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
ChillicotheBuck's picture

We need linebackers who can really break down and tackle and keep their gap integrity.  All those big plays were linebackers leaving their gap responsibility.  Tuff does a great job at filling his gap. Browning is the guy with the speed and talent but he isnt disciplined and relies on his speed to leave he gap responsibilty.  All linebacks and defensive players do this but when done at the wrong time....you get 50 plus yard qb runs and huge gains.  I am sure Al Washington will address this.  Those other linebackers need to start playing more if they can execute their gap responsibility.  I would think next year would be more open for those guys like Pope, Grant and Mitchell.  Go Bucks

C. Brian Massie

HS
Buckeyebobby1968's picture

What’s the deal with Tyreke Johnson? Highly ranked 5 star recruit and we we’ve heard a peep from him

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

Injuries to begin with, then learning CB after playing Safety in HS.

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
bucks15's picture

That has probably something to do with it, but to be frank it just sounds like he isn’t good.  One insider, BG I believe, said “he couldn’t play dead in a Western.”  Point is, not counting on it until we actually see something. 

HS
Gmac44135's picture

Baron Browning shouldn't be anywhere near the middle linebacker next season. I didn't think he would struggle as much as he did in that position. With Justin Hilliard coming back, I'll be rooting for him to get a starting lb spot either ws or middle. The secondary will be worse because there is nowhere to go but down after the group of dbs we just had. Riep had some good and bad moments, and Proctor struggled mightily against Clemson (wasn't put in favorable position on a few of his mistakes). There are a lot of uncertainty there. Our defensive line should be stout again even if don't have another guy of the quality of Chase Young or a Bosa.

I hope the offense dominates as much as I think they will to help until the defense gets it together.

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

The talk is Baron will replace Harrison at the WLB.  His natural position is on the outside and I firmly believe...still...that he’s not a MLB.

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
Trebor40's picture

Agreed^^^^^^^^^^^^ I watched the game on regular view yet set the dvr to the telecast with in game break downs and on BOTH  the QB TD run AND the screen to Etienne Baron was in the wrong position (yet according to analyst so was Harrison on the pass to Etienne)

In fact the LB who was praised the most was Werner for both coverage and run support! 

I would rather be on hand with 10 men then elsewhere with 10,000 - Timur Lenk

HS
BuckeyeJay's picture

Browning is going to make some NFL team very happy as an OLB pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme. 

HS
Gmac44135's picture

That's exactly where it seems Browning would be best fit. He may have been the best pass rusher on our team besides Chase Young.

HS
Nutinpa's picture

Agree.  But he is a one trick pony as a speed rusher.   As a LB, he is a disaster and breakaway TD waiting to happen.  

HS
Sanitarian2's picture

Yep, he was out of position on at least two of the TD against Clemson that lead directly to scores. All he needs to do is stay in position and make the routine plays with his speed he'd be a terrific asset. 

Sani

HS
brothadudeguy's picture

This is what I see happening. Maybe not in a 3-4 scheme but I see Browning blitzing a lot on the edge. Dude is a deadly pass rusher and we will need it when we lose Chase. 

HS
OSUBias's picture

This one is going to be tough. We lose Young, Okudah, Wade, Arnette, BBL, Hamilton, and Harrison. Oh and fuller. Those are the most productive guys at literally every position group, and the entire secondary. I’d say there will be a fairly large step back, if I’m being realistic. 3 of those guys were among the top in the country at their positions. 

HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

There will be growing pains for sure, because you don't lose guys like Okudah and Young and get better.  However, I do think with the scheme the way it is, it will be a shorter learning curve.  

You're too stupid to have a good time. -Dalton

HS
Carpetbagger's picture

The good news is many of these players saw significant time on the field due to extensive garbage time.  Hope that continues next year.

Don't judge me because I'm quiet. No one plans a murder out loud.

HS
tampatom's picture

LB's were terrible in Clemson game. would like to see some new blood given a chance. Browning might be better at DE. They need to figure out what to do with Hilliard as he is not coming back for 6th year to play special teams

HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

Almost like a Thaddeus Gibson/John Simon type we used to see.  That stand up DE/LB hybrid.  Problem is it just doesn't fit with what LJ does with his DL.  

You're too stupid to have a good time. -Dalton

HS
Zonabuck's picture

Hilliard is a mystery to me. When he’s in there, he looks fast, quick and makes big sticks. On special teams, he’s devastating. And I know he has a long history of injury. But he’s been healthy this year at a position of need, yet can’t seem to break into the lineup. Well, I guess we went to a 4-4 scheme down the stretch, but I think that says as much about lack of quality depth at DB than it does about Hilliard. Can’t figure it out. 

HS
BUCKEYE3M's picture

Going into the game, I predicted Clemson would take deep shots whenever Chase left the field, because they pay attention to personnel. It turns out they ran Lawrence when Browning was in the game and, if I'm not mistaken, he kept getting lost in the wash, as they say.

I'm hardly an expert, but he can't play the MLB position. He needs to step out into Harrison's position and Mitchell needs more reps at MLB. 

HS
Gmac44135's picture

Browning was by far the most disappointing player in the Clemson game for me. Clemson studied our previous game when Wisconsin QB ran for a touchdown untouched because of Browning.

HS
Cooper's picture

Can’t say I disagree. Defensive line won’t be as explosive next year but the drop off should not be bad at all. Maybe 5-8 less sacks compared to this past year.

Linebackers... I don’t know. Browning taking over for Malik is the only thing I feel comfortable about, and Werner’s play improved this season. I still feel uncomfortable that Tuf Borland will end up being a 4 year starter, meanwhile Teradja will only have the opportunity to start his senior season. This group as a whole should still be pretty good next season.

Secondary is the biggest concern for this team, easily. Brown and Banks don’t really have the length of Wade and Okudah at CB. Johnson does but we haven’t heard anything positive about his progression. Proctor has a chance to be a star, I think the question with him will be if he can be the leader in the secondary like Fuller. Riep has his ups and downs this season, I think he can be a good player but I think it’s pretty clear he isn’t near the caliber of Wade. 

I’ll predict a top 10 defense in the regular season because of scheme and coaching, but it’s the B1G Title and Playoffs that will really matter. I’m not sure I’m prepared to say next year’s OSU defense could shut down Clemson’s traditional downfield passing game and traditional running game like they did on Saturday. 

This is definitely where I parked my car.

HS
colo_buckeye's picture

Tuf Borland will end up being a 4 year starter, meanwhile Teradja will only have the opportunity to start his senior season

this almost made me sick.  Reading the op’s post, I completely forgot that we are only losing Malik in the lb room.  Pope is a dude, Mitchell is a dude, along with others.  I don’t quite like the love affair of Mattison with Werner and his nonchalant attitude of just completely dismissing another player, ala White.  I have a hard time believing we couldn’t find a spot in the rotation for him.  I will be surprised if our lb room doesn’t thin out, I don’t want to see it but the transfer portal is an easy way for players to find more playing time.  I mean wasn’t Mattison a 1 year contract, is he even coming back?  Offseason....hello.

God > Family > Buckeyes football

HS
Gmac44135's picture

If you felt that Pete Werner was a problem this year, we were watching two separate teams. Biggest hole in the linebacker area was the Browning/Borland tandem. Borland because he has average to below athleticism, but had pretty good instincts. Baron Browning looked the part being big and fast, but might have the worst linebacker instincts I have seen on the team in a while. I believe Browning will be much better in Malik's spot and hope one of the guy's previously mentioned takes over the middle. I feel the linebackers will be good this upcoming season

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

That's a good point, Pete was, IMO, the best LB this year.  Harrison seemed to plateau. The MLB tandem got exposed the most (though they played better than 2018).  

I hope, for the love of all that is holy, we STOP playing Browning as MLB.  If he takes over for Harrison...at WLB...that's his natural position. We've kinda messed Baron up trying to force a square peg in a round hole.  Tuf has mostly good instincts but is slower and a little small, so he gets eliminated from plays.

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
BuckeyeJay's picture

Harrison gets caught in the wash a lot if he isn't going downhill. 

Borland seems to be a really smart LB, but its almost like he tries to overcompensate for his lack of speed by oddly enough, slightly overrunning plays when he is scraping. 

HS
colo_buckeye's picture

I don’t feel like Werner was a problem, sorry if you read that into it.  My concern was that we had arguably the best player, chase, in NCAA and we still found him being rotated in and out with other players, yet Mattison NOT being able to at least find a place for the reigning rose bowl mvp and ultimately showing him the door is disconcerting.  Werner was vastly improved from last year but let’s not pretend he is a superstar, there very well may be a more athletic player waiting in the wings, now whether the guy behind him (I have no idea who is there since White has left, wint maybe) is going to fit into the scheme, is up to the coaches.  

God > Family > Buckeyes football

HS
bd2999's picture

Maybe, I think Harrison could step up on the front. Young was not consistently explosive his first year or so, just showed flashes. I imagine that several of the guys take steps into next year too. 

HS
CincyBuck's picture

Secondary is the biggest concern for this team, easily. Brown and Banks don’t really have the length of Wade and Okudah at CB.

Strongly agreed.  And, for me, that concern isn't necessarily limited to next year.  We have one of the more talented (if not the most talented) CB groups in OSU history leaving (presumably).  And I feel like we've missed on a lot of CBs in recent recruiting cycles.  So that worries me a bit.

I hope I'm wrong.

HS
fishleehooker's picture

I don't think it's THE best....that likely goes to one that had Winfield and Springs together...but it is up there.  But I do think Fuller was really good.  I think Proctor could wind up better though.  And as good as our group was, they could have produced more picks imo.  But damn...they were good.  

HS
LvilleBuck's picture

This will still be a top 5-10 defense next year. Harrison and Smith will be havoc off the edge which will help the DB's. We may have to be more multiple to help Banks/Brown/Riep/Proctor but I think with the extra time in the system they will perform at a high level. Harrison was great too but I think next we see a lot more Teradja Mitchell somewhere in the mix along with Hilliard. Will be a solid four man rotation between those two ILB spots. 

HS
letsgobucks's picture

I also think the DB's will perform at a high level next year.. I understand they didn't look great at points this season but theyre young and this was incredible experience! Players can improve very quickly from year to year. I think the experience they got this year helps them be a top secondary next season!

HS
stlbuckeye15's picture

I suspect that D-line will be boosted by Cooper and Vincent hopefully being healthy. I see them being a strength. A lot of question marks at DB but I suspect that Day is going to be get an outstanding coach to replace Hafley. Secondary may or may not be a strength but I doubt it's a major weakness or liability. Will be interesting to watch.

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

I'd feel more comfortable about this defense if Ash/Coombs were coaching them to play Quarters. Those guys took average athletes like Doran Grant and Tyvis Powell and Webb and turned them into very good CFB players. 

Much like MSU does with that defense, it gives slightly lesser talented but smart players a chance to be aggressive and succeed.

However, playing a lot of Cover-1 & Cover-3 as we do right now required us to have 3 excellent man-cover corners (Arnette gets props for upping his game this year).  I don't see that we have those dudes on the roster. 

We actually played more Cover-2 and Cover-4 in the game against Clemson than we had all year. Unfortunately, Proctor wasn't up to the strong safety role and was caught out of position too much and our LBs, well, they're just good but not great players overall IMO. I like the guys. They play hard. But, Clemson only found yards against them in the pass game and QB run game.

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
bd2999's picture

Really, Clemson did not find consistent yardage anywhere. When players got beat they got beat on big plays. And that sucks, but I did not think the young guys played bad considering the team they were against and filling in. They got exposed a few times, but that is going to happen against good teams on occassion. The letting it go from big yards to TD was rough. 

Proctor just needs more time, really what they all need. 

HS
ShawneeBuck74's picture

I agree. They’re not there yet, but have shown flashes. They’re talented and I think they will get there.

You win with people. 

And so forth...

9 Units Strong!

 

HS
dvo45's picture

RPO evolution killed Quarters Coverage 

see LSU/OU

single high/1-gap defense keeps defensive players roles without run/pass conflict that you get from running 2-high defense

HS
Independence Village 22's picture

I think Hilliard steals the middle. He is bigger, stronger, faster, nastier then Borland. Browning gets Harrison's spot. And I'd love for Pope or another youngin like Mitchell to bust onto the scene. Let's be honest here. Our LB's are above average against B1G teams and that's great. But to face Clemson and Bama and Georgia you are going to need bigger and faster LB's. Cover RB'S and TE's and occasionally rush the passer. I think we have the answers in our stable they just need the chance to flash.

HS
BuckShotGinn's picture

You don't necessarily need a top 5 defense , but you usually need a stellar D line (which we should have) to win championships. 

2002 and 2014 were considered excellent defenses, but we gave up far more points and yards (+320 ypg) than this years defense.  We should have a great D line, which should help ease pressure off the d backfield while it grows with experience.

HS
Independence Village 22's picture

With a great D-line you are #1 Stop the run #2 Get pressure on 3rd down/obvious passing situations #3 stop short yardage 3rd & 1's #4 hold strong in goal line situations. We should have enough horses to be extremely successful in all 4 areas. Harrison should see a big jump. Tyreke Smith may steal snaps from Cooper on running downs. Garrett, Jackson, Vincent, Cage, Togai, Hamilton [fresh] should be one of the deepest interiors in all of college football. Vincent and Togai and Jackson are all 5*ish DT's that were top 5 at their position. Garrett has flashed when healthy. We also have the proper personnel to run a 3-4 or 4-3 and 5 man rushmen line. Our line should be stellar to great. It's the back 4 that are going to be the huge question mark. We really need Coombs ability to teach technique and get the most out of the young men.

HS
Larryp713's picture

The above defense can also be great. We will see who is brought in to coach the DBs (hopefully an elite coach like coach Hafley) and potentially support Mattison as DC. I think Proctor, Riep, and Brown have shown enough this year to provide optimism for the DBs next year. I believe the LBs will be elite next year mostly because the second team (or OR starters) are such playmakers. And I like our D-Line. 

The last two years have shown that coaching and scheme are really important. Fortunately they have a nice baseline to build on.

Respectfully,

Larryp713

HS
TRich19045's picture

If (When) Wade declares for the draft, what's the likelihood that OSU looks into the transfer portal for a graduate CB?

Nothing against those players returning next season, but I cannot see the coaches being completely comfortable with them, mainly based on the lack of experience.  At the very least, I believe they look to bring someone in if only for competition.

HS
Smitty516's picture

I definitely think it’s a possibility. As these bowls wrap up, I could see the transfer portal growing rapidly...

HS
TRich19045's picture

That being said, is there anywhere that the average fan can see who is in the transfer portal or is that only for team personnel with the odd media member giving out information?

HS
Independence Village 22's picture

Lot of taller talented CB's in the portal. Just need to look at the tape and find one with enough top end speed and fluid hips.

HS
Smitty516's picture

I would have to think more will join that we wouldn’t even think about at this point who might want to join a better team...

HS
Smitty516's picture

A healthy Taron Vincent would go a long way. Vincent and Togai reeking havoc in the middle would be huge

HS
Big 'Ole Buck's picture

You can have 5 Chase Young's on the defensive line but if your LB's are in the wrong spot, or your DB's are inexperienced, it doesn't matter one bit because that ball will be out of the QB's hands in less than 2 seconds.  We've seen this play out before, and it wasn't pretty.  Inexperience gets exposed against a quality opponent.  Clemson didn't throw at Okudah, Arnette, Fuller, and Wade on Saturday night because they knew eventually it would burn them.  They attacked the LB'ers, and once Wade was gone, they attacked Proctor.  Okudah goes out for a play and they immediately attacked Riep. 

There will definitely be growing pains for the defense in 2020, and let's not forget OSU is looking for a DB coach.  A team can have the best offense in the world but if the defense can't stop anybody, it doesn't matter one bit. 

Go Bucks!

HS
Smitty516's picture

Growing pains yes, but I don’t think the drop off will be as great as many expect. We won’t revert to a Big 12 defense or the 2018 defense. I’ve seen a lot of great Ohio State players that looked sketchy when they were backups but really came on the following year, for example Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley. Pete Werner had a great year and I see him continuing to get better with his 3rd year of experience as a starter. Borland is who he is. I’ve been hard on him, but I didn’t feel like he was quite the liability at the end of the year, even against Clemson that he was the previous year. While he’ll never run like Katzenmoyer, I think his speed can improve to a point considering 2020 will be 2 years removed from his Achilles injury which is when most athletes are fully recovered from this injury. Lets get Browning on the outside where he belongs and can just be an athlete. I would also like to see the younger guys like Pope, Mitchell and Gant that showed promise. The Dline will still be great with the potential to be elite, which will help the secondary settle in.

HS
RunEddieRun1983's picture

I think the talent is there, and the coaches have shown they can develop talent. I think from 18-19 Okudah went from being a great corner in D1 and a mid first rounder to an elite corner and a top 5 pick. He was that good, but the coaching staff found it in him and developed him. You can say the same for Young.

Biggest example of a leap was Damon Arnette. If they were able to get that much of a jump in production out of him I think they can do it with anyone.

Urban Meyer left an incredible legacy. 12/4/18 Ryan Day begins his.

HS
BuckIDave's picture

Ohio State's defense probably won't be as dominant as the 2019 edition, especially with uncertainty about the back 4, but still plenty good enough for the Buckeyes to win a 4th consecutive B10 crown and make a 4th CFP appearance. 

HS
Buckeyejohn's picture

It won’t be as good but the talent is stacked where it matters most: D-line. The defensive end rotation will be deep and talented. I think defensive tackle could be just as good if Vincent is healthy and shows his 5 star potential.

I think the back seven takes a step back but not to a level that will sink us. Thinking we drop from #2 to maybe somewhere in the 20s. Our backups aren’t scrubs and our pass rush is going to be lethal. 

HS
KlayDog's picture

Hopefully I am wrong, but man that secondary is extremely uninspiring. Hopefully Harrison takes the *leap* that'll be helpful to help some of those concerns. 

Have to think the offense will be good enough to get the defense out of any problems in most, if not all regular season games however. 

HS
_Patches's picture

I mean they should be gold enough to win the conference and really should be 13-0 going into the playoffs. I just feel like at this point, I don’t know if they’ll be good enough to win a playoff game.

If you take everything I’ve accomplished in my life and condense it down to one day, it looks decent!

HS
Sloopy1976's picture

I am taking a "wait and see" approach to next year's defense. I like to keep it simple. After last year, we knew we had talented guys but we were gashed week in and week out by everyone. We had the talent, but we just couldn't put it all together. Coaching is the key to our defense next year. We are overloaded with talent everywhere, it is exciting! We just need to get the right people in to work with the talent to develop them. Ryan Day will get the right person/people to do that, just as he did with Hafley. Fear not, we are in good hands. I am expecting another stellar defense in 2020.

HS
419Buck's picture

Remember when we signed a HS kid named Baron Browning, who arguably had a higher upside than Wade and Young? Yep, he’s back and ready to hit that ceiling. Harrison will end up >\= than Chase Young and DBU is locked and ready for another year of maturity. 
 

Togai will have people’s heads by the start of the season and Cooper will be the #1 alpha leader. 
 

Elite status for our defense, not “very good.”

HS
Scorching Hot Takes's picture

Assuming we get a solid replacement for Hafley, I don’t see the D as being a concern. Even the secondary, it’s not like the backups are scrubs with zero talent/athleticism. I think we’ll still hover around 10th best in the country on defense, which is perfectly good enough to win a title with our offense.

HS
AZBuck LHC's picture

The 2020 defense will need the D-line to be dominate....especially early in the season. The projected starting DB's did get some significant playing time this past season due to the numerous blowouts, but with mixed results. These young DB's have talent, but they will need time to develop and will likely struggle against better offenses. The Offense will need to be explosive as the defense is not likely to be as stout as the 2019 unit.

HS
TomD's picture

Yes. The Week #2 game at Oregon, especially, is going to need very good play from the DL, in order to take pressure off the secondary.

"Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it." - Woody Hayes

HS
letsgobucks's picture

I think next years defense turns out to be very, very good. We have a lot of guys who have been here for a couple of years who are entering their college "prime" and have received invaluable experience. Im expecting or D line to lead the charge as we should be tough, deep and disruptive up front. The secondary is athletic and those guys got to get their feet wet this year. the development of banks, brown and riep will surprise a lot of people. I don't know why because we see it every year. young guys have to hit a few learning curve bumps before they blossom. I think our secondary blossoms next season.

HS
MediBuck's picture

Agree firmly with multiple above posters. Baron Browning's natural position is outside LB, where he can use his physicality and speed to rush the QB and take on the tight ends. I'd love to see Mitchell or one of the youngsters rise up to push Borland in the middle. 

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

HS
Elguapo's picture

Linebacker will be by far the most interesting to see if they make any changes. Browning seems like he will be a stud at outside LB especially blitzing. Will be very interested to see if Pope or Hilliard can supplant Werner, or if Mitchell will split time with Borland Borland similar to Browning this year. We really need Defensive tackles to step up next year to replace Hamilton and Cornell they both had excellent years.

HS
Obstacle22's picture

I can't figure out why people are penciling Cooper in as a starting DE. He's never been that good. Meanwhile we have Harrison and Smith who haven't begun to touch their ceilings along with Friday, Potter, and Jean-Baptiste. Cooper's value may be more in his leadership than his talent. Not to say he can't contribute but I haven't seen much out of him to get too excited about his return. 

"I may not be able to outsmart too many people, but I can outwork 'em."     ~Woody Hayes
 

HS
Brandon26841's picture

I think by now we know that "starting" on a Larry Johnson DL means nothing more than you're first to take the field. I think the snap count will be pretty evenly distributed between Cooper, Harrison, Smith, and probably Friday as well. They usually always have 4 "starting" DEs (or more) and it's the same way in the interior. 

HS
Buckeye06's picture

 can't figure out why people are penciling Cooper in as a starting DE. He's never been that good

Well...he was the starter this season before injuries, ahead of both the guys you talk about after.  He was also a 5* who hasn't touched his ceiling yet maybe

HS
Mantis's picture

Secondary is easily biggest concern.

HS
MW2014's picture

Seems to me that the linebacker position group is the most critical. They’re the second line of defense on run plays, QB runs, and the short pass game that teams like Clemson (and Ohio State) like to run to get momentum. Time and again this season despite have great downfield coverage and pocket pressure, the 5–10 yard range was problematic. 

HS
Nutinpa's picture

One thing is for sure......we will find out quickly if Mattison or Hafley was the real brains behind this year’s D.   And I think we all know that answer and it left for Boston. 

HS
keith7456's picture

Mattison has been putting together top Ds for longer than I have been alive. To say that Hafley was the main reason for the D turnaround just isn't very smart. 

HS
Jamhal91's picture

I don’t think people understand how good Mattison is at putting together defense Hafley was good too but Mattison ain’t paid more for no reason

HS
IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Bad take. Halfey didnt call DL and LB alignments. 

"I find your lack of kalua disturbing" - Darth Lebowski

HS
keith7456's picture

I have complete faith in the staff that Day has put together to get the most out of the kids. They may struggle some early but other than the Oregon game potentially being tough we start the season with Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Rutgers before a bye week. The offense is going to score 50+ PPG so the D will have time to settle in.

HS
Bigmarty's picture

Gonna miss the 315 pounds of Hamilton in the middle.

HS
dvo45's picture

Not a lost of True Nose Tackles on the roster...Tommy T might be the only one...

HS
IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

If Wade becomes a lock-down CB1 on the outside the secondary might not miss a beat. LBs will be a strength for all the experience they'll have. Interior DL might be a tad inexperienced and we'll need to find more pass rushers but overall our D next year could very easily be a Top 10-15 unit. Zach Harrison turning into a monster would be really nice.

"I find your lack of kalua disturbing" - Darth Lebowski

HS
Cottonswab's picture

Like many others, I hope Baron Browning moves to OLB and splits time with Pete Werner.  I think Pete is better in man coverage, but Baron is better in zone coverage, blitzing, and shedding TE blocks.  It seems that the reads are simpler at OLB and there is less risk of him ending up in the wrong gap.  I think Baron will be a star at OLB and I think Justin Hilliard is a better fit at ILB.  

I also want to see more of the Teraja Mitchell, Dallas Gant, and K'Von Pope.  I would love to see all of the upperclassmen LBs get equal playing time in the first few games to give everyone an equal opportunity to make their case for being the starter.  I think all the sophomore LBs have looked great in limited action and deserve more playing time.

I think perhaps the biggest single factor in the success of the defense is the health and development of the DL.  Both Togiai and Vincent have shown flashes of greatness.  If they can stay healthy and improve in the offseason to become more dominant than Cornell/Hamilton, this defense will be nasty.  I am somewhat optimistic that Jackson and Garrett will also be able to take a big step, during the offseason, to give a solid rotation at DT.  

I would like to see Tyler Friday slide inside to DT, as I think he is better suited to playing inside.  

I really look forward to seeing what Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith will become next year.  I think both are on the cusp of becoming great players.  While I don't expect either to get as many strip sacks as Chase Young, I do think that both will perhaps be better run defenders than Chase.  I think Zach can eventually be a Joey Bosa type of run defender and Tyreke can be a Nick Bosa type of run defender.  Ultimately, I think the DL will be better at stuffing the run at LOS next year.  I think the pass rush will ultimately also be better this year, especially if Browning moves to OLB.  Chase Young was great, but ultimately was neutralized by teams that did a good job of game planning for him.  

I think the fears of a letdown at DB are a bit overblown.  While I don't expect any of the new starters to match Jeff Okudah or Damon Arnette, I think they will be good enough to effectively run a Cover-3 base defense.  In part, I think the drop of at CB will be offset by an improvement at safety.  I think Proctor has better range than Jordan Fuller and will be able to make more plays on the ball than Fuller did.  Proctor will probably give up more long runs than Fuller did, but I think that will be largely offset by better DL and ILB run defense.  

HS
Buckeye06's picture

Can I ask why we do this almost every single year with the secondary? Last season we thought Arnette was "trash" and before that it was "we have no idea how good Wade and Okudah are because we've never seen them play".

Listen, it's CFB at a place where DBs go in the first round almost annually.  You are going to have replace your entire secondary every 2 years, so you may as well just get used to it and then also get used to the fact that you need to just believe the next guys will be somewhat comparable or better and move on.

Banks was a top corner in his class, as was Riep in his, as well as Lejond and Watts and Johnson etc. etc.  The talent is there, now it's their time to go maximize it 

HS