Pitcock Anchors Defensive Line

Last season, Ohio State's defensive line was inexperienced, and it showed during the early part of the season. However, this year, the D-line has three returning starters and could be a formidable unit. The leader of the group is junior defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock.

There's been a lot of feel-good discussion this spring about Ohio State having the kind of team that could make a strong run at the 2005 national championship.

Even the coaching staff has not backed away from talking about a title run.

However, junior defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock has a bit of a different take. Yes, he thinks the Buckeyes will be very good this year, but he says it's way too early to be talking about a possible national championship.

"The pieces are definitely not in place right now," Pitcock said with the same intensity he plays with. "It's spring right now and we're working on little things here and there. We've still got camp. So, I'll put it this way: No, we're not a championship team right now, we're still in the process of working on it.

"But this whole class of guys, there's a lot of willpower to win. We're willing to work hard and do anything that's possible to win."

Ohio State's defense struggled the first half of the 2004 season. The unit was breaking in a lot of young players, but by the end of the season it was playing the brand of defense that Buckeye fans are used to seeing.

This year, Pitcock says OSU wants to be an aggressive defense all season.

"We're going to go back to our old mentality," he said. "We're going to go back to more of an attacking defense, which I think we did towards the last couple games (of the 2004 season). With that, we've had better success."

It is a goal of OSU's defense to once again be respected as one of the best units in the country, as it was in 2002 and 2003.

"Yes it is," Pitcock said. "Definitely last year we probably didn't get that respect. We trying to get to that attack force and get that swagger of being that defense again. We want to see our defensive line in their backfield. We want to see all 11 guys running to the ball. If we can do that, most likely we'll get the job done."

The 6-3, 305-pound Pitcock had an outstanding season as a first-year starter in 2004. His stats weren't great (49 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks) but he drew double teams each game. His role is very similar to what Tim Anderson's used to be. Anchor the middle, eat up offensive linemen, and let other players collect the majority of tackles and sacks.

Now entering his fourth year in the program, Pitcock is the leader of the defensive line. But he doesn't feel like an old veteran.

"No, I don't feel like one," he said. "Time has flown by. I guess it doesn't feel like I'm that old because I'm always learning every day. You never really understand everything, so you always feel young because you don't know everything."

Pitcock says there are up to 10 players fighting for the four starting spots on the defensive front.

"Well, right now I think there's great competition," he said. "There's a lot of guys competing really hard for a position. (Defensive line coach Jim Heacock) says, especially now that it's spring, that no one has a spot. So, everybody is just working hard."

The big concern with the defensive line is finding a consistent pass rusher. But Pitcock says there are two players that can fill that void.

"We've got Jay (Richardson), who is a great pass rusher," he said. "We've got (Mike) Kudla who's an all-around great athlete, he can play linebacker too."

If the 6-6, 280-pound Richardson steps up and plays well this year, it could be a huge boost for OSU's defense.

"Definitely," Pitcock said. "Out in practice in pass rush, he can beat everybody, all the time. Even in games, we've seen it here and there. We've seen it. I think with everybody, it's just a matter of consistently. Doing that every play, every down, all the time."

Pitcock also says the backup defensive tackles are beginning to play well.

"Sian (Cotton) is definitely coming on," he said. "I think he's starting to understand the defense a lot more, which is letting him get off the more quicker. Not as being as hesitant. "Then, I think Nader (Abdallah) has really good hands and he's a big guy that moves well. So, I think both of those guys are coming along well."

David Patterson could line up at tackle or end.

"He can play any position really," Pitcock said. "We've got a lot of guys that are playing both inside and outside right now."

Having a year of experience under his belt will make Pitcock an even better player this season.

"I think the biggest thing that a lot of us learned last year was being in game situations and just learning about what the offenses are going to do," Pitcock said. "It makes the job easier on you. So, I think just taking it to the next level is what we're trying to do this year."

Finally, Pitcock was asked about the return of senior linebackers A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter. They could have gone pro early, but neither one of them strongly considered it.

"It's definitely a big addition," Pitcock said. "They're both great players and they work hard on and off the field. They know how to play and they'll play every down to the fullest."

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