THE ALL-AMERICAN: You want to tell me Sam Hubbard is the best football player on the Ohio State roster, I'm not going to argue with you. Can he be Joey Bosa this year? I think he can be very close. To see a former 215-pound high school safety now weigh 275-pounds, but still retain his quickness and agility is amazing. Enjoy him this season. You want to talk about Ohio State contending for the national title? You should start with the defensive ends, because they are championship quality and Hubbard is the best.
THE OTHER DEFENSIVE END: If I have to name one breakout guy on defense it's going to be Tyquan Lewis, and he is only an inch behind Hubbard as an impact player. The defensive ends DOMINATED the offensive tackles in Saturday's scrimmage, and that was expected. Lewis and Hubbard are going to dominate most of the tackles they face this season. I'm not sure Greg Schiano wants to blitz a lot this year and put his DB's in tough situations. These two DE's can let the linebackers play coverage if they can terrorize the quarterbacks off the edge.
THE OTHER OTHER DEFENSIVE END: Much as the other two guys made their marks as guys off the bench, so will Jalyn Holmes this season. He is ready to play full time, but he has to wait his turn behind two of the best in the country. He will be a household name next year at this time, Bank That. Great speed and twitch off the edge.
THE TWO STUD FRESHMEN: It's not enough to have three of the best defensive ends in the country on the roster, but Ohio State recruited two of the top freshmen in America in Jonathon Cooper and Nick Bosa. In any other year, these two would be fighting to start. Their time is coming, and this is the most talented position group on the team by far.
STRONG UP THE MIDDLE? If you want to look back in five months and point to the success or failure of the defense, look at the defensive tackles as one of the first places to check. There is uncertainty here and Ohio State knows it. The starters RIGHT NOW are Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Hill. Those two played OK at the end of last year, but need to raise their levels of play for the Buckeyes to contend nationally. Can't be OK this year, not without Bosa, Lee, Perry, Washington, Powell, Bell and Apple around to bail them out. These two have to stop the inside run, simply put. I think they can stop Bowling Green. Can they stop Oklahoma, Penn State and Michigan? They've been OK so far in camp.
THE BACKUP DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Look for some major rotating going on in this group the first two games, because they want to play four defensive tackles this season and maybe as high as six. They want to keep fresh bodies in there all the time, but they can only sub with a quality player. A fresh player that can't play dead in a western does them no good. Two young pups, Davon Hamilton and Robert Landers might be behind Jashon Cornell and Dre'Mont Jones right now, but they are going to get their shots. This group features a lot of guys with different body types, different skills, and different strengths. You just might see a lot of down and distance substituting this year. Landers might be the guy on third-and-15, while Hamilton could be the guy on 3rd-and-one.
THIS COULD BE THE YEAR THEY REALLY ROTATE TACKLES: We have heard this every year since John Cooper was hired about rotating the defensive tackles, and it never happens. Would you take out Adolphus Washington for a guy that's going to get rolled? No, and neither would I. I believe they will rotate the tackles in game, and also from week to week, depending on the opponent. Dre'Mont Jones might get 60 snaps against Indiana, then not play against Penn State. Look for the tackles to be mixed and matched all year, unless one guy proves he deserves 85 snaps. Right now, no defensive tackle has earned the right to play every down. If these guys develop, rotating becomes a huge strength. If not, then they're just subbing one bad player for another bad player.
SUMMARY: Really simple: they love the defensive ends and think they match up with anyone in America. They have no clue on the defensive tackles at all, and they aren't sure if they're good enough to play in the Big Ten on a weekly basis. If the tackles aren't good against the run, this opens up a lot of holes defensively that Ohio State won't be able to overcome with experienced NFL talent surrounding them. If they're very good, then this defense has a chance to be very good.