Defensive Line Projections

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Last updated: 07/15/2014 0:55 AM
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Football
Projecting Ohio State's 2014 Season: Defensive Line
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just about any preseason college football publication you peruse this summer will have the Ohio State defensive line rated as the best in the nation, and for good reason.

The Buckeyes return everybody up front, and the depth is such that they could afford to move a starter like Joel Hale to the offensive line.

Michael Bennett
Photo by Dan Harker
Michael Bennett

In the starting front four there are three five-star prospects (Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington), and that doesn't even include preseason All-American Michael Bennett, who was a lowly four-star signee.

Even with new defensive line coach Larry Johnson's promise to utilize more rotation up front, those four should produce the kind of numbers that keep offensive coordinators up late at night trying to implement a new, quick-passing attack.

The depth behind those starters should allow the Buckeyes to continue their attacking ways, but if it doesn't, the rotation will shrink as a result. Obviously, Johnson wants to avoid any shrinkage, and this pool of talent may be enough to keep that from happening.

With that overall depth in mind, here's what my statistical breakdown looks like for the OSU defensive line in 2014.

(Projections are based on a 14-game schedule.)

Player
Tackles
TFL
Sacks
INT
Joey Bosa
55
14.5
9.5
0
Noah Spence
50
13.5
7.5
0
Michael Bennett
43
12
4.5
0
Adolphus Washington
40
8
5
0
Tyquan Lewis
23
3.5
1.5
0
Steve Miller
19
3
2
0
Donovan Munger
15
1
0
0
Michael Hill
14
1.5
0
0
Tommy Schutt
9
0
0
0
Jalyn Holmes
9
0.5
0
0
Chris Carter
5
0
0
0
Rashad Frazier
2
0
0
0

As you can see, I have Joey Bosa leading the way all across the board. Part of that is because Noah Spence will play two fewer games than Bosa, but the main reason why is because he's just so freaking good.

That being said, I only have him projected with one more tackle for loss and two more sacks than he put up a year ago as a true freshman. He's no longer a secret -- if he was a secret last year -- so he can't sneak up on anybody anymore. He's still going to produce, however. I would not be very surprised if my sack numbers are too low for him.

I have Spence's numbers down slightly from a season ago, but I think he'll actually be more productive in the snaps that he has. Missing two games cuts into his numbers, as may Larry Johnson's rotation. He is still going to be one of the most disruptive players in the conference though.

Bennett's sack numbers are down considerably from the seven he had a season ago, which seems counter-intuitive to Larry Johnson's upfield coaching style. But the ink is dry now, so there's really nothing I can do about it now.

Adolphus Washington
Photo by Jim Davidson
Adolphus Washington

Part of the reason for Bennett's number decline -- if not the entire reason -- is because Adolphus Washington will be playing next to him, and he'll be "stealing" some of those tackles in the backfield. Washington could be the next Buckeye defensive lineman to explode.

While the Ohio State starting four up front is among the best in the nation, the depth behind them may not be so shabby either.

I have pretty big expectations for redshirt freshman Tyquan Lewis, though it's hard to project too much when he's backing up two of the best defensive ends in the nation. I am also expecting some quality production in limited time from Steve Miller.

Tackles Donovan Munger and Michael Hill may very well be interchangeable, which is why their projections are so similar. Tommy Schutt is a different type of player, which is why his numbers are lower.

Donovan Munger
Photo by Jim Davidson
Donovan Munger

I don't know if Jalyn Holmes is going to play this season, but I can certainly see him getting some snaps here and there. There should be enough comfortable games to get him involved late.

I have fellow freshmen Darius Slade and Dylan Thompson redshirting simply because there will already be talented players who won't get enough snaps.

Overall, despite a new coach running things up front, the numbers are pretty similar to what they were a season ago. The more important numbers, however, will continue to be the points allowed, and there can be no successful scenario for the Buckeyes where those numbers are similar to what they were a year ago.

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