BUCKEYE "D" GETS AN "A" BUT WILL IT LEAD TO A "W"?
Ohio State football is blessed with a number of enviable
assets this year:
1) A terrific and stable coaching staff
2) A relatively weak schedule
3) Eight home games
And the tantalizing prospect of a truly great defense
There are always Achilles Heels in any defense and OSU has
two of them – the corners. But before we paint ourselves into those corners,
lets take a quick look at the rest of this particular Achilles…
Defense can be divided into four "groups": the line,
the linebackers, the cornerbacks and the safeties. Three of those four groups
for our beloved Buckeyes could be flat-out sensational. To wit:
1) The defensive line – I am already on record (check many of my columns on bucknuts.com) with suggesting that this might become the best D-line in OSU history. They are not just exceptional but also exceptionally deep. Tim Anderson is a rock (and All-Big Ten) on the inside and the talented Kenny Peterson is a quicker and stout partner. Darrion Scott on one end is ferocious and athletic while Will Smith could be the best of the bunch on the other side – coaches call him "unblockable". Quick, athletic, nasty – what else could you want? Depth. Simon Fraser is the next DE superstar and David Thompson (plus newcomer Quinn Pitcock) could be interchangeable in the middle with the current stable of superstars.
2) The safeties – Many pre-season publications listed our starters as the best pair of safeties in the country. Mike Doss is an All-American with Thorpe Award potential. Donnie Nickey is a four-year starter. And Will Allen (tough timing, kid…) could or should start for 8 of the 11 Big Ten teams, yet is a reserve for these Bucks. Enough said…
The linebackers – Those fans wailing and moaning over the loss of
Bullard and Cooper from last year's LB corps should set aside their rosary
beads. Cie Grant is a faster version of Joe Cooper and Robert Reynolds is a
smarter better version of Courtland Bullard. In the wings? The Four Fabulous
Freshmen (D'Andrea, Hawk, White and Carpenter), the best linebacker recruiting
class in the country (sez me). Wait – what about Matt Wilhelm? I posit that
Matt would be in the NFL right now if he wouldn't have gotten
hurt that last year. That's how good he is.
So lets get back to those corners again. First, this
defense is so athletic and so fast that I think they will play a scheme to
de-emphasize reliance on the corners. Second, a number of teams OSU faces –
particularly early in the season – play the gimmicky fun‘n gun spread
razzle-dazzle that will have the Bucks in nickel or dime situations, i.e. Ohio
State will have Will Allen and/or another DB on the field. That might actually
play into OSU's favor with the tremendous rush they'll get and the decreased
vulnerability of leaving a corner "out on an island".
But most importantly, these cornerbacks could be pretty
darn good! Dustin Fox was one of the top three DB's in the country out of high
school and arguably the fastest guy on the team .The other spot will be manned
by high school All-Americans Richard McNutt, Harlan Jacobs, or Bobby Britton OR
Youngstown State transfer Chris Conwell OR superstar freshman EJ
Regardless, this should be a fantastic defense. And it
looks like a classic Tressel team combo of ball control offense (keep the other
guys off the field), with a smothering/attacking defense, and precision special
If it all clicks? Well, I'll up my bet from last week's
prediction of an 11-3 season to …whoa, don't let me get ahead of myself!
Let's just get started!