Spring football starts today for the Buckeyes, so with that in mind we thought it would be a good time to touch on the storylines that everyone will be watching over the next six weeks.
We went over the offense on Friday, so today we’ll give the same treatment to the defense.
Ohio State must replace seven starters from last season, which sounds like a lot when you say it out loud.
Those starters won’t be replaced this spring, but that won’t stop anybody from talking about it happening.
Kind of like we’re doing here right now, so let’s get going.
Does Zach Harrison take the next step?
There is a long, continous line of 5-star defensive ends at Ohio State and it would appear that Zach Harrison is next up. Will he display that kind of ability in the spring, which is when young pass rushers can really shine? Probably. But rather than watching what he does on the field, let’s pay attention to what Ryan Day has to say about him.
Who are the Bullets?
All of that Bullet talk last spring seems kind of like a waste of time looking back. But that won’t stop it from being a topic of discussion once again. Freshman Kourt Williams has been talked about as one of the Bullets. That’s the position he believes he’s playing. Is Pete Werner the de factor starter at Bullet, since his Sam position is interchangeable? Will we even see it in action this spring, since most of what we saw last spring was different than what we saw during the season.
Is Taron Vincent healthy?
I mean, he should be, but we won’t know until we see him out there. After missing all of last season, some people may have forgotten how he closed out is freshman season. He looked like he was ready for a breakout sophomore season. That never happened, but perhaps this is the start of a breakout redshirt sophomore season.
How well does Josh Proctor take ownership of the secondary?
Jordan Fuller was the quarterback of the secondary and now he’s gone. Is Josh Proctor ready for this role in all of its forms and fashions. We already know Proctor can intercept the ball in practice, but can he keep an offense under control when it comes his way?
Damon Arnette says sophomore free safety Josh Proctor reminds him of Malik Hooker. pic.twitter.com/SU06ubbuAd
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) August 21, 2019
Will a defensive end not named Cooper or Harrison emerge?
You’ve got Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, Javonte Jean-Baptiste, Noah Potter, and possibly a pair of freshmen. All four of the returnees have had their moments in practice, so if that happens again, it won’t be new. But will somebody make the move into an All-Big Ten-type of player? Smith, Friday, and Jean-Baptiste all started at least once last season. Now they need to become more. Losing Chase Young is big, but the loss can be lessened if somebody becomes a terror.
Where do the freshman defensive linemen line up?
Freshman defensive linemen Darrion Henry-Young and Jacolbe Cowan are tweeners. They could be defensive ends or defensive tackles. When we talked to Cowan last month, he said they’ve only talked to him about defensive end, but could see him sliding inside on passing downs. Things may have changed since then, or not. Henry-Young is in the same boat. The Buckeyes aren’t as deep in the interior as they have been in the past. This is probably also why redshirt freshman tight end Cormontae Hamilton is now a defensive linemen.
What’s going on at cornerback?
Kerry Coombs wants to rotate three guys at cornerback, and Shaun Wade, Cameron Brown, and Sevyn Banks are all capable of starting. But who else will be with them? Can Tyreke Johnson take a step in his third year and make this room deeper than it is right now? Same question for Marcus Williamson, who is now unbelievably a senior. Will a freshman make a move?
And what’s the deal in the slot?
This is probably the $64,000 question of the secondary. While it may not be the most important question, it may be the most unknown. Who will be replacing Shaun Wade in the slot for the Buckeyes? Is it Cameron Brown or Sevyn Banks? Is it a safety like Marcus Hooker or Ronnie Hickman? Can a freshman take a shine to it and find himself mixing in with the ones and twos this spring?
Are Tommy Togiai and Haskell Garrett stepping up as leaders on the interior?
With DaVon Hamilton and Robert Landers gone, the Buckeyes need a new leader on the interior. Tommy Togiai will almost certainly be the No. 1 nose tackle this spring. He and Haskell Garrett are the veterans on the inside now and they’ll have to lead like it. Every rep, every drill, every lift, will they be the guys leading the charge?
Where are the linebackers lining up?
Not everything will be answered this spring, and even the answers we get this spring may not apply to the regular season, but don’t you want to know if Baron Browning and Tuf Borland are going to be on the field together this spring or if they’re going to continue to platoon? Replacing Malik Harrison at the Will is a big deal, so will it be Browning doing it, or one of the younger guys. And by “younger guys,” I mean juniors Teradja Mitchell, K’Vaughan Pope, and Dallas Gant.