The good news for the Bucks, is that the defensive line has a lot of experience returning. Quinn Pitcock was second team All Big Ten a year ago and is the strongest memeber of the Buckeye team and has good speed at 4.91.
Pitcock is having a huge year with 22 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and five sacks. David Patterson is the other tackle and he had four sacks a year ago, and this year he has 15 tackles and three tackles for loss. Jay Richardson is at one defensive end and has 10 tackles, and Lawrence Wilson is at the other end. Opponents have run for 3.9 yards per carry, for 118 yards per game, which is pretty stingy.
The middle of the Spartan line will be tested with the incredibly strong Pitcock and Patterson. Kyle Cook will be an important cog. But the guards who have been bothered by injury and inconsistent play will have to put it all together. Will Kenny Shane and Pete Clifford be healthy? Will Roland Martin end his inconsistency? Those are big questions.
Michigan State offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland feels that this year's edition of the Buckeyes front seven isn't showing the effects of all their losses to the NFL.
"You watch these linebackers here and that nickle player, number 14 (Antonio Smith). They're taking a back seat (publicity wise) because of the players they had last year, but there's not much fall off between those guys," said Stoutland.
The coach said that the Buckeyes overall defensive team speed is what sets them apart from other defenses. "You watch how fast they run for big guys, that's why they're the number one rated team in the country right now, because I don't think they've fallen off at all. You look at their statistics and what they've done on third downs and points allowed in the game and all that - I don't know if they've fallen off at all."
At linebacker, James Laurinaitis leads the team with 50 tackles and has made a lot of big plays with four interceptions, two sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. His dad is a pro wrestler in the WWE (Road Warrior Animal) and Laurinaitis is an animal himself.
Marcus Freeman has 33 tackles at one linebacker, and John Kerr starts at the other and has 14 tackles. Curtis Terry has eight tackles, and true freshman Ross Haman has 14 and both help this group. Despite th eloss of Hawk and Carpenter, this group is more than holding it's own.
The surprise of the defensive stop troops has to be the secondary, which lost all four starters from last year but have done an incredible job thus far. Brandon Mitchell is a hard hitting strong safety who had two starts a year ago at nickle back and is currently second on the team in tackles with 36.
The free safety is Anderson Russell, whose dad played for the Eagles and he has 16 tackles so far. Malcolm Jenkins who has 4.4 speed and great cover skills is at one corner and has done a little bit of everything, intercepting a couple of passes, knocking down passes, and even rushing the passer from the edge. Antonio Smith has 29 tackles and a 55-yard interception return, and Donald Washington has helped with 19 tackles.
This secondary has already hauled in 12 interceptions and have given up just 182-yards via the air per game with just five touchdown passes. However, opponents are completing 59 percent of their passes, so there are holes, but OSU has made all the big plays when it has counted.
Spartan receivers will have to have sure hands and no deflections that can be intercepted. Stanton will have to be sharp with his throws as well and not stare down receivers. There are a few holes in the secondary, and if Stanton doesn't make mistakes, they have a chance. People talk about the linebackers that played last year and how great they were - and they were.