THE DEFENSIVE COACHING STAFF: They lost a superstar coordinator in Chris Ash and it appears Ohio State replaced him with another superstar coordinator in Greg Schiano. The early returns from the first three games gives Schiano an A+ in my book. The secondary, which is his positional responsibility, has been nothing short of amazing. The calls coming down from the booth have been dynamite, so nothing but mad love for Greg Schiano through three games. Urban Meyer has to be thrilled with this hire.
THE DEFENSIVE ENDS: Pretty darn special, just as most people felt they would be. Came out of the blocks slowly vs. Bowling Green, and Meyer let them know about it. He hasn't had to get after them since. They terrorized Tulsa and continued that against Oklahoma. They pressure QB's from the outside, and it's also nearly impossible to run wide on these guys. Sam Hubbard has been as good as people hoped he would be. Tyquan Lewis does so many things right that even though he might not be putting up huge sack numbers, his presence is felt. Jalyn Holmes is good enough to start at most programs in the country, and his play has been impressive. That gets you to the fourth defensive end, Nick Bosa, who flashes every time they put him in. No room for Jonathon Cooper yet, and he has a chance to be as good as any of the guys mentioned above. This could be the best collection of defensive ends in America.
THE DEFENSIVE TACKLES: They're playing a lot of bodies inside. Michael Hill has been the constant in the rotation, with Dre'Mont Jones, Robert Landers and DaVon Hamilton alternating opposite Hill. There have been running lanes between the tackles at these guys, and all three opponents had some success running the football right at them until the score dictated they had to throw exclusively. Most of these guys have not played football at this level before, so it's reasonable to expect improvement going forward. Ohio State has not really had to load the box with a safety to help in run support, but that option is available should they start to be gashed in a close game. All in all, I believe Meyer and Schiano have to be pleased with the progress this group has shown to date.
THE LINEBACKERS: This group was pretty awesome against Oklahoma and that probably coincided with Jerome Baker landing quality minutes and playing really well. Hard to see Baker not starting going forward. Raekwon McMillan showed his value against the Sooners, running sideline-to-sideline and also being active in pass coverage. These guys tip balls and alter throwing lanes as well as last year's great group did. Not sure if Dante Booker goes back to starting once he's healthy. It also appears the Joe Burger playing time was just throwing a walkon a bone against Bowling Green for being a great teammate. Chris Worley has been solid and I think that's what should be expected from him as a player. Really like this group, and that means McMillan staying healthy because I'm not sure who could replace him in the middle. They can fill in for the outside guys, but Raekwon might be irreplaceable going forward.
THE CORNERBACKS: How could these guys play any better? They give up very few completions, nothing down the field at all, and they take the ball away. When they take it away, they put it in the end zone too. Gareon Conley rarely gets tested, and for good reason. But then you're throwing it in Marshon Lattimore's area, and that's not been good for opposing QB's. Want to throw against the nickel? Fine, because that's Denzel Ward, who's been really good. Damon Arnette has been the fourth guy, and he's learning on the job. Conley went out against Oklahoma and was not missed because everyone else stepped up and blanketed the Sooner wideouts. This group has played above expectations. If they continue, Ohio State will be very hard to score on.
THE SAFETYS: Malik Hooker has been as good as any safety in the country, and that's not an overstatement at all. He covers so much ground back there that it's hard to fathom how fast and instinctive he is with little game experience. He hits people and he picks off passes, and you can't do much more than that at safety. Damon Webb has had his moments, both good and not so good. After being injured/suspended/rested last year, people need to understand that he has not played much football yet. And he's now playing safety, not cornerback, so cut him some slack. Jordan Fuller and Erick Smith are waiting in the wings.
THE SUMMARY: Through three games, Ohio State has been a dominant defensive team. They already have nine interceptions. Last year's team, with three NFL defensive backs, had 12 for the season. This is the passing era of college football. If teams cannot throw the football against you, the odds of you winning go way up. The secondary has been the most surprising position group on this team, and the most productive. Should this continue to be a dominant defensive team, they will be very, very hard to beat.