Who Stood Out: Defense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — What started great turned out to be a subpar afternoon for the defense.
They weren’t exactly put in a position to be successful at all times Saturday, but Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell can’t be overly pleased with what they saw in the spring game.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes were playing without a number of key contributors on that side of the ball, including a handful of potential starters in Tyler Moeller, Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett, Storm Klein and Dionte Allen.
Sunday we looked at the offensive players who stood out in this year’s spring game, and now we flip over to the defensive side of the ball where a number of players performed well at Ohio Stadium despite the loss in the jersey scrimmage.
DL John Simon – Set the tone for the day with his pressure on Joe Bauserman in the first series. Seems to be playing faster and with more confidence. Could be on the verge of a breakout season in 2011. Stats: 2 tackles, 1 TFL (-3yds)
DE Nathan Williams – No one on the defense might be more important to Ohio State’s success in 2011 than Williams. With the loss of Cam Heyward, Williams becomes “the guy” on the defensive line and the one player opposing teams will likely game plan to stop. He makes everyone around him better and he’s their best chance at putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Stats: 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFL (-6yds).
LB Etienne Sabino – It wasn’t Sabino’s best performance of the spring, but that says a lot about how good he has been. We saw this a little bit from his last spring, but Sabino finally seems to have turned the corner. He is playing fast and making plays, exactly what they want from a middle linebacker. Stats: 6 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 TFL (-2yds).
LB Andrew Sweat – The senior out of Pennsylvania got off to a slow start Saturday, but he heated up pretty quickly. Sweat was constantly around the football and led all players in tackles. He may very well do that during the regular season too. Stats: 10 tackles (4 solo), 0.5 TFL (-1yd).
LB Dorian Bell – The backup to Sweat at the Will linebacker spot, the only thing keeping Bell off the field right now is, well, Sweat. He has had a great spring and continued to play well in Saturday’s scrimmage, even coming away with a sack. Stats: 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL (-7yds).
LB Jordan Whiting – With Storm Klein sidelined by a hamstring injury, Whiting moved up to the second-team defense Saturday and he did not disappoint. The Kentucky native was very active at the middle linebacker spot and probably played as well as anyone on the defensive side of the ball. Stats: 7 tackles (4 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL (-8yds).
LB Ryan Shazier – The only guy more active than the first four linebackers on our list was Shazier. A native of Florida who enrolled early this spring, Shazier has been in and out of the lineup. He was back in Saturday and made his presence known in a big way. Playing Sam linebacker with the second group, Shazier’s name was called over and over on the loud speaker. He only finished with two tackles, but he was constantly around the ball and this kid looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Stats: 2 tackles.
CB Bradley Roby – It wasn’t a great day for the corners, who were playing short-handed without Dionte Allen and a few others, but Roby still managed to stand out. He didn’t put up big stats, but had a couple of big hits and a few break ups while playing with the first and second teams. He is battling with Dominic Clarke for the starting corner spot, but at the very least he should be the No. 3 corner this fall. Stats: 3 tackles.
DB Jeremy Cash – Maybe the biggest winner of all from Saturday’s spring game was Cash, who all of a sudden could find himself in the mix at the safety position this fall. With Moeller, Barnett, Bryant and Domicone all out for the game, Cash stepped up and played with the second –team defense and played well. The true freshman hasn’t had his name mentioned much this spring, but that changed Saturday. He played a great game, contributing against both the run and the pass and really showed some potential for the future. Stats: 6 tackles (6 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL (-4yds).
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