Heacock gives D-Line update

Defensive line coach Jim Heacock talked about the defensive line with the media today and gave injury updates as well as a look at what individuals are performing well.

Defensive line coach Jim Heacock and wide receivers/quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels took some time to meet with the media after Thursday's practice.

First up, Heacock was asked about facing Indiana quarterback Matt LoVecchio.

"The thing that impresses me about him is his running ability," he said. "As a defensive line coach, that's the thing that concerns me. He's been able to scramble and gives you a lot of problems as far as getting on the edge, or running the ball up the middle.

"And everything is play-action passes, or a lot of play-action. He looks like he's under control. Not a lot of turnovers and he does a good job of finding the open receiver. I've been impressed with him."

Heacock is hoping to get tackle Darrion Scott back near full-strength this week. He played against Iowa, but maybe he shouldn't have. He is still bothered by an ankle sprain that he suffered in the Bowling Green game.

"Like I told Darrion, I think he got about 20 plays last week and now he needs 20 quality plays," Heacock said. "He really struggled last week. He didn't play very well, as I'm sure you know. But now we're going to try to get him 20 good plays and work a little more on quality. And even if he gets 10 plays, if they're quality, it's better than last week. But he had a better week of practice this week. I think he'll be up for 20 plays."

The fact that Ohio State likes to use a defensive line rotation - rolling as many as 10 guys through - is really paying off now.

"It really has," Heacock said. "It's really paid off because Quinn (Pitcock) ended up starting last week and played a ton. He had played all year because we were rolling them through. And he's not the guy that would naturally be in the game, but we roll them through, so he had got some reps. And, really, by the time he played a lot last week, he felt real comfortable and confident and felt good about himself.

"So, I think it has been good to roll those guys through and it's been helpful every year we've done it. You never know how deep you have to go. David Patterson is ready to go now. We've been easing him into it, getting some reps, but I think he's to the point now where he could play a game for us. I think it's been helpful to roll those guys through and have them ready to go."

Heacock has been pleased with Patterson and then some.

"He's really come a long way," he said. "He's instinctive. That's the best way to describe him. He reminds me of a Ryan Pickett-type player. Very, very instinctive. Everything he does is reaction. And that's nice when you get a guy like that. You don't have to coach a lot of those little things. But David's going to be a very good player. The offseason is really going to benefit him. His weight, his strength and the whole deal. But he's going to be a great player because of his instincts, I believe."

It's a good thing that Pitcock and Patterson are stepping up because, in addition to Scott, Marcus Green has been bothered by a shoulder injury.

"He's out," Heacock said of Green. "He's not going to go on the trip. He has a stinger, and he had it repeatedly, and whenever you're messing with that nerve, we just decided that he could probably play this week, but it's probably not worth it."

Heacock was asked if he gets the sense that the defensive players are frustrated with the offense and feel like they have to win the games.

"I don't sense that at all," he said. "I really, really don't. I believe that our guys are focused on winning. I think a win is good, and I think they feel real good about the wins. I don't think they get involved with who, or why, or all the other questions that might surround it. And I'm being serious. I don't think it affects my room. Those guys in there, I'm not sure they even know what's going on half the time. The ‘W' is the important thing, so, no, I don't think there is any of that."

Led by stalwarts Will Smith and Tim Anderson, Heacock thinks his defensive line is playing better than ever before.

"These guys seem to be feeding off of each other," he said. "I think our front, probably, from a playmaking standpoint, is better than they've been, just because they're more active. More tackles, more sacks, more whatever."

We asked the coach to comment on some of the young defensive ends that are coming on.

"I think (Mike) Kudla is coming on real well," Heacock said. "Jay (Richardson) is making a little progress - probably not quite as fast. But Kudla is really coming on and some of the guys we're redshirting are really looking good. Marcel Frost really looks good."

What about Joel Penton?

"Joel is kind of like a swing guy for us. He knows all four positions. Joel is ready to go at any time. He can play nose; he can play outside. He's very smart and he's a guy that is going to get better every year because he works hard."

Penton isn't getting a lot of reps right now, but Heacock thinks it's important to get him some playing time.

"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I threw Joel in there… I think he got one series last week or something like that. You know, we've been moving Tim Anderson out to end because when you're playing a power team, sometimes you need more beef out there. So, this group is pretty good as far as being versatile. When Darrion's back a full strength, he can play anywhere. Tim can play inside and outside. And Kudla, we're playing him a little bit more - not only at the drop end, but we're moving him into the rush end a little bit more."

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