The Ohio State defensive line wasn’t satisfied with how often it disrupted the opposing quarterback last season and is looking to change that in 2017. A year ago, the Buckeyes recorded 28 sacks, good for seventh in the Big Ten. Michigan paced the conference with 46 quarterback sacks.
Following OSU’s spring practice on Thursday, defensive line coach Larry Johnson admitted that quarterback pressure is a top priority.
“We talked about that, we talked about the ability to get to the quarterback. I think that’s the most important thing,” Johnson said. “We deflected a ball, we did some knockdowns, we tipped balls, that’s all great, but at the end of the day we’ve got to get the quarterback on his back so that’s been our goal going into spring ball.”
Johnson added that the pass rush begins with the interior defensive linemen, a la defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones.
“That’s what Coach Johnson emphasizes a lot, is getting to the quarterback, getting to the quarterback, getting to the quarterback,” Jones said Thursday. “So that became my philosophy too. I’m eager to get to the quarterback every trip. It doesn’t matter run or pass.”
Creating problems in the middle of the line makes it that much more difficult for the offensive line to contain the outside pass rushers, Johnson explained.
The position coach also noted that a crucial aspect a defensive line must improve to get to the quarterback more often is that initial step D-linemen take once the ball is snapped.
“We went back and watched our video tape, each guy met with me one-on-one and talked about how can we improve our pass rush,” Johnson said. “You commonly saw that we weren’t taking that first step fast enough across the line of scrimmage. So our emphasis this spring is the ability to attack the line of scrimmage faster. That’s what we’re seeing, you see guys really jumping off the ball. That’s how you get to the quarterback.”
The film study has now transferred to the practice field.
“From the jump, we do drills about getting off the ball, then to hand work,” said Jones, who will be a third-year sophomore in the fall. “That’s our main goal: more sacks, more pressure. We’ve got the run stuff pretty much figured out, but we’ve got to work on the pass rushing.”
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