It is no secret that Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has a big problem on his hands heading into the 2017 season. How will he find enough snaps to appease the rotation of talent he has assembled? With everybody returning from a group that last season ranked No. 54 nationally in sacks, the defensive line will look to generate pressure in other ways. The defensive front will be the collective “leader” on that side of the ball as it will set the tone for what the Buckeyes will do schematically. With a constant rotation of talented playmakers, the defensive line will allow the linebackers to play more freely and even help the secondary if necessary.
In a “Base” alignment, the 3-technique aligns primarily to the strength of the formation, and between the guard and tackle. This player will be considered the best interior pass rusher and utilized more for his agility than his weight to be disruptive as the alignment will likely keep him clear of double teams. Enter Malik Barrow. At 6’2” 290, Barrow showed very good quickness off the ball in the Spring Game and coupled that with good use of his hands to leverage his opponent. The redshirt freshman from Tampa showed consistent effort and competitive toughness to garner a closer look as we head towards Fall camp.
The “Rushmen Package” receives a lot of attention, and rightfully so. Anytime somebody with the last name Bosa lines up as an interior lineman, good things are bound to happen. The alignment allows the best athletes to rush the passer, using quickness to wreak havoc in the backfield. A newcomer to the package could be Jonathon Cooper from Gahanna Lincoln. Cooper, a 6’3” 248-pound sophomore, has superior speed and athleticism off the edge, and showed in the Spring Game that he can convert that speed into power to enhance his pass rushing repertoire. With the defensive line already rolling almost a dozen deep, Cooper has entered himself into the conversation as a significant contributor in 2017.
Rashod Berry (rSo) – Effective off the edge, but has the strength and agility to dip his shoulder and cut inside. Also showed the ability to drop into coverage consistently which provides a number of schematic advantages for the defense.