In fact, the Buckeyes were lacking depth at some key positions, including linebacker, cornerback and safety. The Buckeyes had just six scholarship linebackers, including two true freshmen, on the roster, while there were just four scholarship cornerbacks not redshirting and a lack of depth at safety after the injury to Christian Bryant.
How did things get that bad? A full 25 defensive players, signed between 2009-13 by the Ohio State coaching staff as scholarship players in recruiting classes, were not present for a variety of reasons.
This doesn't include players like true freshmen Mike Mitchell, Gareon Conley and Eli Apple who were redshirting and also not really available by the end of the season. It also doesn't include players like John Simon and Johnathan Hankins who moved on to the professional ranks after completing their OSU careers.
Of course, every program battles attrition, but it's fair to say that 25 players missing over five recruiting classes is a lot. Not every player would have been available if their careers had gone according to plan, but the following 25 players are those who might have been contributors to the 2013 Buckeye defense in a different world.
CLASS OF 2009
Adam Bellamy: A three-star prospect, Bellamy redshirting his first season but became a contributor each of the next two years, making 11 tackles in two games in 2010 and 25 tackles and a sack with a forced fumble as a sophomore in 2011. He was projected to be a potential starter in 2012 but left the team near the start of camp for personal reasons.
Melvin Fellows: Fellows was projected to be a star, earning five stars from Scout and being listed as the No. 3 defensive end in the nation. He also redshirted as a freshman and played sparingly, never recording a stat before a recurring knee injury ended his career and he took a medical hardship.
Jonathan Newsome: A four-star defensive end, Newsome played linebacker at Ohio State, entertaining fans on Twitter and making an immediate impact on special teams. Newsome had five tackles in five games as a freshman and 15 tackles while playing in every game in 2010, but he eventually found himself in academic trouble according to head coach Jim Tressel and ended up transferring before the 2011 season. He ended up at Ball State and starred for the Cardinals this past season, making 64 tackles and eight sacks.
Jordan Whiting: The first commit to the 2009 class out of Louisville, Ky., Whiting was a three-star linebacker who never quite found a spot with the Buckeyes. Physically imposing but a bit undersized, Whiting played sparingly, making two career tackles before transferring to Louisville after the 2011 season. He never played for his hometown school.
Dorian Bell: Another projected star, Bell was a five-star prospect who was ranked the No. 2 weakside linebacker in the nation coming out of high school in suburban Pittsburgh. He never broke into the starting lineup, though, posting nine tackles and a forced fumble in 2010. Bell was mentioned as a player who received a free tattoo as part of the Tattoogate scandal and ended up transferring to Duquesne. With the Dukes, he was a third-team All-American in 2012 and a second-team all-conference choice in 2013.
Jamie Wood: A local product out of Pickerington Central, Wood was named the No. 9 safety in the nation coming out of high school but never made it into the starting lineup while battling injuries. Overall, Wood played in 26 games in 2010 and '11, making 17 tackles, mostly on special teams. He then battled recurring shoulder injuries and could not make it back during the 2013 season.
Dominic Clarke: An under-the-radar prospect out of western Maryland, Clarke boasted great speed, which helped make him a four-star cornerback prospect coming out of high school. After redshirting in 2009, he had 14 tackles and an interception in reserve duty in 2010. He started the opener vs. Akron in 2011 and finished that season with 12 tackles before off-the-field issues got him. Clarke was suspended one game for a disorderly conduct citation involving a BB gun in '11 and was cited for OVI in '12, leading to his dismissal by Meyer. He transferred to Illinois State, making 75 tackles in two seasons.
CLASS OF 2010
Christian Bryant: Despite starting for two-and-a-half seasons, Bryant is one of the great "what coulda been" stories in recent OSU memory thanks to a pair of injuries in 2010 and '13 that kept him from playing a solid quarter of his Buckeye career. The four-star cornerback had just moved into the starting lineup as a true freshman in 2010 when a foot injury cropped up and cost him five games. He started in 2011, '12 and '13 before suffering a broken fibula vs. Wisconsin this season, costing him the last nine games. In all, Bryant had 167 career tackles and two interceptions while impressing Meyer off the field, but pending a final appeal for a fifth year of eligibility, his OSU career is over.
Jamel Turner: Turner was a four-star outside linebacker prospect from Youngstown, but he never made it to Ohio State after being shot in 2010 as part of an incident that resulted in the death of his 17-year-old friend. After rehabbing, Turner ended up at Akron, quite a triumph in and of itself, and made 17 tackles in 2013.
David Durham: A three-star prospect out of Charlotte, N.C., Durham committed early in the class. He never recorded a stat, though, transferring to Pittsburgh after the 2011 season and making 21 tackles in 13 games this past season.
Scott McVey: The third-ranked middle linebacker in the 2010 class and a four-star prospect, McVey never played for the Buckeyes, taking a medical hardship after battling shoulder injuries through high school and his first two years in the OSU program
Chad Hagan: Hagan was thought to be a darkhorse in the class of 2010, as he was just a three-star safety but a player who boasted outstanding size (6-2, 227) and speed (4.29 40). Hagan battled a heart condition in high school, though, and never seemed to be fully healthy. He redshirted because an injury as a freshman then played in seven games, making two tackles, in 2011 before medical issues caught up with him and he had to call it quits.
CLASS OF 2011
Ken Hayes: The first commitment in the class of 2011, Hayes was a four-star defensive end upon arrival at OSU. He redshirted as a freshman but transferred to his hometown school, Toledo, before the 2012 season. He was not listed on the roster for the 2013 season.
Conner Crowell: A three-star prospect from Maryland, Crowell suffered a leg injury as a senior in high school that was so bad he also redshirted in 2011. He returned to play in three games, making one tackle, in 2012 before medical issues caught up as team doctors would not clear him to continue to play.
Jeremy Cash: Cash earned three stars as a safety out of Plantation, Fla., and was high school teammates with Ryan Shazier. He immediately saw playing time in 2011, making three tackles in five games on special teams, but transferred shortly after the campaign. He ended up at Duke, where he led the team in snaps played as a sophomore in 2013, picking up All-ACC honors after making 121 tackles and four interceptions.
DerJuan Gambrell: A four-star prospect from Toledo Rogers, Gambrell redshirted in 2011 and did not survive the early days of Meyer's tenure, being dismissed from his scholarship for a violation of team rules following an arrest in January 2012.
CLASS OF 2012
Se'von Pittman: Pittman had an interesting recruiting process, first committing to Michigan State and then switching to OSU after Meyer's hiring. He was a star at Canton McKinley in high school, earning four stars and a ranking as the No. 9 defensive end by Scout. But he not play, redshirting because of injury, in 2012 before transferring to Akron this past offseason.
David Perkins: Part of a highly touted class of linebackers, Perkins was a four-star prospect from South Bend, Ind., who committed to Meyer in the strong push the new head coach made on the way to signing day in 2012. He played nine games on special teams as a freshman, making six tackles, but his most famous moment at OSU was likely his form tackle on mascot Brutus Buckeye during an open practice during the spring of 2013. Perkins left the program after spring practice and transferred to Illinois State, making the Missouri Valley Conference all-newcomer team with 21 tackles and four sacks.
Luke Roberts: A three-star linebacker from nearly Lancaster, Ohio, Roberts redshirted in 2012 and was looking to pierce the depth chart during spring practice in 2013 before deciding to transfer to Harvard during the summer, though he is not currently listed on the team's roster.
Devan Bogard: A four-star safety prospect from Cleveland Glenville, Bogard has shown flashes but has been hit by bad luck during his time in Columbus. He played in three games in 2012, making seven tackles, before blowing out his knee. He then had seven tackles in eight games this year before again suffering a torn ACL while covering a kick.
Najee Murray: The Steubenville product, who committed to OSU just weeks after the dismissal of Jim Tressel, earned four stars coming out of high school and played as a freshman last year, making three tackles in five games before suffering his own torn ACL. He was then dismissed from the team this year during fall camp.
CLASS OF 2013
Michael Hill: Called an SEC-style defensive lineman by Meyer, the four-star defensive tackle prospect was on his way to proving that this season before injury cut short his campaign. He looked good in the three games he played, making one tackle, before hand and shoulder injuries cut short his season.
So there you have it, 25 players who coulda, woulda, shoulda helped the Buckeye defense in 2013 but simply weren't there to do so. The good news is that reinforcements are on the way to help fill the void, but if there's anything we've learned here, it's that nothing can be taken for granted.