Most Important Buckeyes: No. 19
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Back when we did this list before the season we had a defensive lineman in the 19th spot as well. Back then, however, it was Michael Bennett. It turns out that Bennett's year was derailed by a nagging injury, which hampered his entire season.
That hasn't kept us from putting another defensive lineman in the 19th spot this time around. Looking back, nose tackle Garrett Goebel probably should have been on our original list as well.
The redshirt senior captain from Illinois is a man of few words, but the role he played for the Buckeyes this season spoke volumes.
What Made Him Important?
Photo by Dan Harker
Goebel played the most unglamorous position on the Ohio State defense. As a nose tackle, he was tasked with occupying blockers and freeing up those teammates around him. It doesn't receive the commensurate glory from fans and the media, but without a stout man on the nose, a run defense won't get much done.
Despite very little freedom to move, Goebel still finished ninth on the team in tackles with 42, which is a solid number for a nose tackle. He provided the Buckeyes with a calming influence on the defensive line, yet was a disruptive influence when it came to the opposing offensive line.
A state champion wrestler in high school, Goebel gave relentless effort, and required an offensive line's constant attention. That freed up fellow defensive linemen Johnathan Hankins and John Simon to make plays that would not have been available if not for Goebel.
Goebel wasn't just a plugger. He had as many tackles for loss (4) and sacks (1) as Hankins, and more tackles than fellow starters Nathan Williams and Travis Howard.
Like a lot of nose tackles, he went unnoticed by many. He didn't even receive Honorable Mention All-Big Ten recognition from either the coaches or the media despite the fact that he likely would have started for every last one of those coaches who chose not to acknowledge him.
What Would The Buckeyes Have Done Without Him?
The Buckeyes could have managed to fill Goebel's spot at nose tackle had they needed to. They could have simply slid Hankins over one spot, and they would have been fine.
But then who plays Hankins' spot?
Hankins himself said this season that he was glad Garrett Goebel was on this team because it meant that he didn't have to play nose tackle. Hankins would have been fine at that spot, and has been in the past, but the Buckeyes would have still been left with a void.
With Hankins at the nose tackle, Michael Bennett would have been the starter at Hankins' "3 technique" defensive tackle, and is very capable of playing that spot well. However, he was injured this season, so the likely starter would have been Adolphus Washington, who wasn't much more than a pass rusher the first eight or nine games of the season.
Goebel's absence would have had a trickle-down effect, and it would have certainly been one that diminished an already vulnerable run defense when it could not have afforded to be diminished one bit more.
The fact that Goebel was on the team, and Hankins got to play beside him, made the Ohio State defense much better than it ever would have been without him this season.
How Does It Compare to Our Preseason Expectations?
Goebel was not in our initial Top 20. Perhaps if we assume he was number 21, then we shouldn't feel so bad about him not being on the original list.
Not appearing on the original list is a loud and clear case in point to the love that nose tackles have to live without. It's okay, they're used to it. It's pretty much all they've ever known.
No. 20 Kenny Guiton
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