Over/Unders for the OSU Defense
By Rob Ogden
Ever since Ohio State ended last season 12-0, Buckeye fans have been speculating about how many wins Ohio State can be counted on for this season. Las Vegas put the over/under at 11. Here are five over/unders for the Buckeye defense in 2013. The numbers are for the regular season only, and do not take into account a Big Ten championship game or bowl game.
So make your picks. Over or under?
Total tackles for Ryan Shazier:
Photo by Dan Harker
Over. As a sophomore in 2012, Shazier ranked first on the team and second in the Big Ten with 115 total tackles, and is the only returning member of the Buckeyes' front seven in 2013. Over the past two seasons, no Ohio State player has more tackles than Shazier (172).
Shazier will again be heavily counted on in 2013 and Meyer has said repeatedly that the linebacker really improved towards the end of last season. If that's the case, Shazier should be able to surpass 115 tackles this season.
As a point of reference, after recording 115 tackles as a sophomore in 2006, James Laurinaitis bumped that total up 121 in 2007 and 130 in 2008.
Total quarterback sacks:
Under: Ohio State ranked 28th in the country last season with 30 quarterback sacks. A big part of the Buckeyes' sacking success can be attributed to 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year John Simon. Simon's nine sacks from last season rank 10th on Ohio State's single-season sack list. He ranks seventh on the career list with 20.5 and topped the single-game sack list with a four-sack performance against Wisconsin last season.
Simon, along with the rest of last year's defensive line, is gone now. Luckily for the Buckeyes, two of the new guys on the line, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, seem pretty capable themselves. The pair combined for seven sacks in the spring game.
Maybe the Buckeyes don't get to the 30 that they recorded last year, but I think it's close.
Combined interceptions for Bradley Roby, Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett:
C. J. Barnett
Photo by Dan Harker
Over. The trio combined for five interceptions last season with two coming from each Roby and Barnett and Bryant hauling in one. A fifth-year senior, Barnett is the most experienced guy on the Buckeye defense, even after missing three games last season due to injury.
Roby will have to miss the season opener against Buffalo while he serves his suspension, but this high-flying group should be fun to watch when on the field together.
Points allowed per game:
Under. The Buckeyes surrendered 22.8 points per game in 2012. That number was inflated by a 52-49 win at Indiana and a 63-38 win against Nebraska. Nebraska's not on the schedule this season and the Buckeyes get the high-flying Hoosiers at home.
The schedule lacks much offensive firepower, so even with six new starters in the front seven, there's no reason to believe Ohio State allows that many points per game again in 2013.
Games started by Curtis Grant:
Photo by Dan Harker
Over. Grant was listed as the team's top middle linebacker entering last season, but started only three games for the Buckeyes. By season's end, Grant had appeared in only eight games.
As game day approaches, Grant has again been named the team's starter at middle linebacker, and with little experience backing him up, he'll be expected to perform. The one-time five-star prospect said last year's struggles were due to complacency.
But Grant said he has learned his lesson. “Take advantage of your opportunities," he said earlier this month. "Don't get complacent. Work for everything that you want."
Related Article - Over/Unders for the OSU offense.
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