Fraser Enjoys Career Night Vs. Huskies

Junior defensive end proves he is worthy of starting assignment.

For two years, Simon Fraser played a backup role on the Ohio State defense. The former Upper Arlington High School star saw some action and made his fair share of plays, including a big sack in the waning moments of regulation in last year's national championship game win over Miami (Fla.) in the Fiesta Bowl.

All of that experience helped point Fraser toward this season, his junior year, where he has been ticketed (finally) as a starter at defensive end.

Although he made two starts last year, Fraser entrenched himself as a starter for the long haul this year with his play in Saturday's season opening win over Washington. He tied linebacker A.J. Hawk for the team high in tackles with a career-high seven, including three for losses with a sack.

"It felt great," Fraser said. "I have been waiting for this. I have dreamed about this ever since I started playing football. I reached another goal tonight. I have a lot more goals to reach. I just need to work hard and stay focused.

"Tonight, I tried to get out there and run around and do some things."

Fraser's opportunity came about after Kenny Peterson's departure at the end of last year. Darrion Scott, who had started the last two years at end, has moved inside to defensive tackle. Fraser and Scott join end Will Smith and tackle Tim Anderson in forming one of the nation's top defensive lines.

"With Tim Anderson, Will Smith and Darrion Scott returning, they have a lot of experience," Fraser said. "I have gotten in a few times the last two years. We try and motivate each other and push each other."

The line was a big part in OSU's 28-9 win over Washington. They pressured All-American quarterback candidate Cody Pickett and also held the Huskies to just 7 yards rushing.

"They really didn't try to establish the run," Fraser said. "When you go against a team like that, it's a (misnomer). Plus, there were some sacks mixed in there, too. If it was against a team like Michigan, that would be astonishing."

The Huskies kicked a field goal early in the third quarter, but did not find the end zone until Pickett scored on a run against the second unit late in the game.

"They had two Heisman Trophy candidates (Pickett and receiver Reggie Williams) on the other side," Fraser said. "It's kind of hard to just shut them out. They fought hard to the end. They just made some plays."

Fraser and the defense set the tone early with two three-and-outs in UW's first three possessions. Fraser made the defense's first big play of the year, stuffing UW tailback Rich Alexis for a 4-yard loss on the Huskies' second play from scrimmage. Fraser smothered Alexis as he took the handoff.

"I think I may have been able to take that handoff," Fraser joked. "It was a missed assignment on their part. Nobody blocked me. I was just in the right place at the right time."

Then, Fraser capped UW's third series with a big third-down sack on Pickett.

"When we got a couple three-and-outs and our offense started moving the ball, you could tell they were getting a little bit discouraged there," Fraser said. "Quarterbacks tend to get discouraged when they have people in their face the whole time. We take that as our assignment as a defensive line. Tonight, we got a lot of great pressure. All eight of us who played tonight, did a heck of a job."

The Buckeyes rotated as many as eight regular defensive linemen into the game, a strategy Fraser said should help them.

"We're deep," he said. "We're trying to keep everybody fresh by using a number of players. If we can do that, that should be an advantage for us in the fourth quarter. We had a lot of young guys get in there tonight."

OSU coach Jim Tressel said it was nice to Fraser enjoy a career-best performance.

"I thought Simon Fraser did a good job," Tressel said. "I thought he made a couple of big hits early on. Overall, we did a good job of rushing the passer. Simon is a big part of our front.

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