Darron Lee doesn't go in to a game thinking about the ways he can make a play. Maybe that's why the Ohio State linebacker makes so many.
"Really what comes to my mind is just doing my job first and I guess making plays just comes from doing your job," Lee said. "I don’t go out there being like, ‘Alright I got to go do this or go do that,’ just doing my job and playing within our system. If you can make a play make a play.”
That mindest has clearly worked for the redshirt sophomore. By focussing on simply doing his job, Lee has often done the spectacular.
It was evident that he brought that big-play ability to the field since his first game as a starter when he scored the first touchdown of the 2014 season. Really, the plays have kept coming for the linebacker since then. Lee had 81 tackles last season, including 16.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He's picked up right where he left off this season.
Against Hawaii the linebacker had two sacks and a forced fumble, earning co-defensive player of the game honors from head coach Urban Meyer.
That brings him to 2.5 sacks and 3.5 TFL through two games this season, putting him ahead of the blistering pace he set as a redhisrt freshman. Through two games in 2014 Lee had not registered a sack, though he did have three tackles for loss. While two games is too small a sample size to accuratley project a full season of work, if Lee keeps up this pace he will be an even more prolif playmaker this season than he was in 2014.
|First Two Games||Season Totals|
|Darron Lee 2014||12.5 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 TFL||81 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 16.5 TFL|
|Darron Lee 2015||10 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 TFL||75 tackles, 18.5 sacks, 26 TFL*|
*Projection based on a 15 game season.
Lee acknowledged that everyone of the stop troops better understands the defense now than they did at this point a year ago. The relative continuity on the defensive side of the ball has allowed everybody to have more fun, he siad.
He credited that defensive scheme for his success
"Doing your job first and then making the play just kind of comes to you," Lee said. "If you are doing your job the coaches are putting you in a position to make a play."
The coaches have consistently put Lee in position to make plays early this season. As the 2014 campaign wore on it became apparent that Lee was the most effective blitzer the Buckeyes had. That remains the case this season and the defensive coaches are using him in that regard frequently in the early going as Lee is often serving as a stand-up defensive end on third downs.
While he was good at rushing the passer last season, defensive line caoch Larry Johnson said that Lee is even better now.
"I think he's a very twitchy young man," Joshnson said. "I think he's got some really athletic skills. The thing that he did voluntarily was learn how to pass rush. He came down and spent time with Vince, our grad assistant, and myself to work on his pass rush skills. Those are things that are starting to show up. He can play much faster with his hands, and that's a gift to be able to do that."
Those skills allow Lee to do his job and given his immense abilities and the willingness of the defensive staff to put him in position to make them, the linebacker's job often results in spectacular plays.