Defensive Notebook: Green, Whitner and More

OSU defensive veterans Marcus Green and Donte Whitner sum up the jersey scrimmage. Youngsters Alex Barrow, Marcus Freeman and Sirjo Welch also share their viewpoint as spring winds down with the Scarlet and Gray Game Saturday (1:30 p.m., WBNS-TV and ONN).

Ohio State senior defensive tackle Marcus Green put it on the line -- literally -- in describing the defense's 93-39 loss to the offense in Sunday's jersey scrimmage.

"The past week or so, the O-line has really been getting after it," Green said. "I guess they are coming together as a unit. The defensive line probably needs to come together a little more. I think we let the defense down today."

Green talked about what has suddenly made the OSU offense a scoring machine.

"They have a great offensive line that has been together for a while," he said. "You've got Teddy (Ginn) back there, obviously. You add in Santonio (Holmes). You've just got a lot of weapons, basically. They use a lot of different formations and they can use all of these players in different ways. We can air it out. We can run the ball with two running backs we have now and you can even hand the ball off to Teddy on the reverse. That makes them dangerous."

Green has been with defensive line coach Jim Heacock since he arrived at OSU in 2001. He talked about Heacock's promotion to the defensive coordinator's position.

"Coach has been a head coach at Illinois State," Green said. "He has a lot of experience. As far as shaking things up, I don't think we pay attention to that. We just go out there as a unit and try to play ball. We do what they tell us to do."

Whitner's World

Junior Donte Whitner is entrenched at strong safety after splitting time there with Tyler Everett last year. Whitner said the defense has to take Sunday's loss in stride.

"We're not really bummed over it," he said. "We know what we need to work on. That's why we do these type of things. For us to win, we have to get a lot of turnovers. Today, we did not get enough turnovers. Today, they played very well. We had a so-so day."

Sophomore fullback Dionte Johnson has been getting some run for his blocking of late. Whitner, who has met Johnson in the hole more than once, gave him some props.

"He's getting a lot better," Whitner said. "He has experience now. He's getting a lot lower and he's using his hips. He's driving his feet on contact. He's a good player."

Whitner spent some time cornerback early in the spring before settling back in at safety.

"I did get what I wanted," Whitner said. "I worked with Coach (Paul) Haynes on man-to-man things and new techniques he brought with him from Michigan State. That has helped me out a lot."

Whitner said sophomore Sirjo Welch was running with the first team at corner, although senior Tyler Everett is sidelined with an injury.

"That's really going to be a battle going into the fall," Whitner said. "Tyler Everett will be coming back and he's going to play at corner."

Whitner talked about the change in the defensive coaching ranks.

"It's basically the same thing," he said. "We're still running the same defenses and we're preaching the same things -- effort, toughness, speed to the ball. It's basically the same. There really is no difference."

Over this final week, OSU would hold its spring game draft Wednesday, kick scrimmage Thursday, a demo practice for high school coaches Friday and the annual Scarlet and Gray Game Saturday (1:30 p.m., WBNS-TV and ONN).

"We want to work hard," Whitner said of the plan for the final week. "We want to go in and work on the little things we did wrong in the scrimmage. We had some poor tackling and some blown coverages. We want to work on the small things."

Hit Of The Day

Scrimmage observers said Whitner had the biggest hit as he leveled wide receiver Devon Lyons on a crossing pattern, breaking the pass up.

"It felt good," Whitner said. "I didn't really try to hurt him. If I had gone full speed and really hit him, it could have been uglier than it was. He stayed down for a little bit, but then he got up and was all right. I was glad he was all right."

Lyons also discussed the play.

"Donte Whitner caught me slipping and he made a nice play," he said. "It was not cheap or nothing. That's just part of the game. You have to be used to it. But there is no way to get used to it. That's the hardest I've been hit in my life -- other than maybe my dad when I was little. He knocked the wind out of me. It was a route underneath the linebackers. He read it pretty well and was tapping his foot, waiting on me."

Freeman Reaps Benefit

Sophomore linebacker Marcus Freeman enrolled early in 2004, meaning this is already his second spring at OSU. He is getting plenty of reps this spring since middle linebackers Anthony Schlegel and Mike D'Andrea have been held out of contact drills. Outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter has slid inside, at times, to give Freeman a chance to play outside.

"It's just been a great opportunity to play and learn," Freeman said. "To play with A.J. (Hawk) and Bobby, they are great players. I'm just getting better and taking the opportunity and doing the best I can with it. I'm not a veteran yet, but I am getting a lot of experience and I think I'm coming along.

"It's a big spring for me because I need to show the coaches I am ready to play. If anybody gets hurt, I'll be ready to step up and take that chance. If somebody needs a break, I'll be ready. My goal is to just go out here and do the best I can to show the coaches I'm ready to play."

Freeman talked about OSU's veteran linebackers.

"Anthony is a big hitter and also a big leader," Freeman said. "We miss his leadership. He's still on the sidelines and in the individual drills pushing us on.

"A.J., he's a leader. He says what he has to say. Anthony is the one that gets you hyped up. But A.J. is the one who leads by example. If you follow his lead, you'll be a leader, too. But Anthony is the big vocal leader. He gets everybody pumped up and going."

Freeman also sees the coaching change in a positive light.

"Not much has changed," he said. "We lost a coordinator, but Coach Heacock and Coach Fickell, we've been with them. It's still the same. We're just working that much harder to get better."

Barrow's Time To Shine

Redshirt freshman Alex Barrow has been a pleasant surprise at defensive end, Heacock said last week.

"Hopefully, I can bring a spark off the bench with the pass rush," said Barrow, a product of nearby Dublin Coffman.

Barrow and sophomore Vernon Gholston have been pushing for time this spring.

"Vernon is playing a lot right now and I'm on the other side, working at the Leo," Barrow said.

Barrow shared what Heacock had to say to the defensive linemen about the coaching shake-up.

"He will be the coordinator, but he said he would also still be involved on the D-line and would have say on everything that we do," he said. "Overall, this spring, we're learning a lot and it's gone pretty well."

Welch's World

Welch, from Columbus Beechcroft, is another local product doing well this spring.

With Everett sidelined, he has competed for reps against junior Michael Roberts and redshirt freshman Shaun Lane at corner. Welch repped at safety last year as a freshman, earning time for making several key stops on special teams.

"It's different because in high school I played all safety," Welch said. "Coming in here and moving from safety to corner, it has been a good challenge. It was hard at first because I had never played corner before. But once I got the hang of it, things just started coming to me easy.

"You have to compete on every play. As a safety, you can sit back and watch everything. Once everything goes down, here you come. But at corner it's basically like you're on your own."

Welch admitted it has been an education going against OSU's stellar receiving corps this spring.

"They are terrific receivers," he said. "They make the DBs better. That's what we need. We need them to practice good so we can get better. That's what they do.

"We need to get better at some things, but overall, I think it's a terrific team, period."

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