MotSaG Look at the Defense

osuHelmetNow that we’ve had a chance to look at the pieces parts of Ohio States defense, how are things going to look this year when the defense is on the field?

The Buckeyes, in their base defense, run a 4-3 under. This defensive scheme has been the bread and butter of Ohio State defenses for many years now. This “traditional defense” will be on the field when the opposing team comes in with a pro-type offense (such as Wisconsin or Michigan). More often than not, however, the defense will be combating a spread attack and to cover the field with athletes. They will be in a Nickel page (take out an outside linebacker, bring in a fifth defensive back [the Star]).


But that’s not all, folks! As Ronnie pointed out earlier, they may also show a 3-2-6 dime package. Offenses are evolving to present different looks and formations and defenses have to adapt accordingly.

The Defensive Line

No matter what formation/package is in place, there will always be two defensive ends on the field. The prohibitive favorites to start at those two positions are going to be Noah Spence and Aldophus Washington. They are backed up by a bevy of competent players. Urban Meyer has already said that Joey Bosa will be one of the freshmen to see the field against Buffalo (but let’s be honest, most of the freshmen are going to see the field against Buffalo) and is going to get dumped into the fire early and often. Steve Miller, the veteran of the group, should also factor heavily in the DE rotation.

With the exception of the 3-2-6 look, We can also expect to see Michael Bennett and Tommy Schutt clogging up the middle at the defensive tackle spots. Schutt will probably come off the field in the 3-2-6 configuration to let the more effective pass-rusher, Bennett, try to get pressure from the three-man line. This position is also full of guys that can be plugged in without much drop-off in size or production. Both Joel Hale and Chris Carter have game experience (Hale more so than Carter) and the shape Carter is putting himself could be the makings for a nasty nose guard for the next few years.

You never be strong enough up the middle. The linebackers and defensive backs get to make all the big plays but it start with wide bodies forcing the ball carrier into their hands.


In the base defense Curtis Grant will anchor the middle of the linebackers while Shazier and most likely Josh Perry will be at the Will and Sam position respectively.

More often than not, Perry will come of the field in favor of the Star, Tyvis Powell. Powell has been impressing coaches at camp.

Shazier will be the featured linebacker and will be called upon to time and time to step up. With the unknown quantity of Grant’s improvement and aggressiveness, Ryan will have to shoulder the burden of being the most dependable of the linebackers. Given his improvement from the beginning of the 2012 season to the end, his fundamentals looked to be on target to being an experienced, disciplined linebacker.

Defensive Backs

Rounding out the back four (once Roby returns from his suspension) will be Bradley Roby and Doran Grant at the corners with CJ Barnett and Christian Bryant at the safety positions. Throw in Powell (and Von Bell) at the star position and this group of defensive backs is the most experienced group of defenders.

There are also young ones in the wings, but they are all green and will probably get most of their game exposure on special teams this year.

Roby will bring the defensive Voltron to full strength in week 2 and will be the biggest contributor on the field. His ability to be on an island yet be strong in run support makes him a very dangerous defender and Coach Coombs will lean on him to lock down his side of the field as Grant develops his own set of tools. Barnett, Bryant and others will also get their chance to play both the run and pass as the coaching staff finally gets their scheme firmly entrenched in the players’ heads and with the personnel to execute it.

Silver Bullets

This defense, on paper, has some issues. The linebackers outside of Shazier are relative unknown quantities. The potential of the defensive line is huge but the experience at game speeds is not. The maturation of these two groups will define the ceiling of the defensive unit. Coupled with a talented and experienced defensive backfield, the front seven may have some leeway in growing into and getting comfortable at their positions. But they won’t have a lot of time. The B1G opener and a night game at Northwestern loom in the near future.

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