2007 All-Buckeye Beater Defense/Special Teams

Yesterday we recapped the top offensive opponents Ohio State faced this year. Today we turn to the defense and special teams. We came up with a list full of Spartans, Fighting Illini, Zips and even a Penguin.

Ohio State's offense was at times spectacular but not above sputtering as an entirely new cast of skill players stepped to the fore.

Both facts can be attributed greatly to the opposition, of course, which is one reason we felt it appropriate to highlight some of the defensive players who brought their best when the Buckeyes were on the other sideline.

Despite having to replace two All-Big Ten performers, the Ohio State offensive line had a pretty nice year, in particular once it got deeper into the season. The Buckeyes were third in the Big Ten in rushing (No. 20 in the nation) and allowed only 14 sacks, although there were games in which Todd Boeckman got his fair share of pressure. Unfortunately for us, that made finding standout defensive linemen difficult.

Meanwhile, competition was fierce at the linebacker position and a fair share of defensive backs made good showings against Ohio State as well.

Like the offense, this side of the ball had one repeat performer.

And one more thing: After reading about the defense, check out something new this year – special teams selections.


Defensive Line
First team: Jonal St.-Dic (Michigan State), Colin Ferrell (Kent State), Will Davis (Illinois) and Tim Jamison (Michigan).
Second team: None
Honorable mention:Nick Hayden (Wisconsin), David Lindquist (Illinois).

St.-Dic's All-Big Ten season included a sack that forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown against the Buckeyes as MSU staged a late comeback attempt, while Davis posted three solo tackles and a sack of his own in Illinois' upset of the Buckeyes. Michigan's defense had the ball stuffed down its throat, but Jamison showed up with nine tackles, including three for loss.

Perhaps the most surprising name on this list belongs to Ferrell, the only defensive tackle.

Though he was credited with just two tackles, Ferrell was in the Buckeye backfield on a regular basis, including when he sacked Boeckman.


Linebacker
First Team: Anthony Heygood (Purdue), Greg Jones (Michigan State) and J. Leman (Illinois).
Second Team: John Shevlin (Minnesota), Brion Stokes (Akron) and Roshon Simons (Youngstown State).
Honorable Mention: Adam Kadela (Northwestern).

Not only did Heygood post a game-high 11 tackles in the Boilermakers' defeat, three of his stops were for loss, including one on a fourth-and-shirt in which he dropped Beanie Wells for a 3-yard loss. Heygood also sacked Boeckman for an 11-yard loss late in the second quarter to assure the Buckeyes would not take any last shots at the end zone before the half.

Wells gashed Mark Dantonio's defense but not for the efforts of Jones, a true freshman from Cincinnati Moeller who led all players in Ohio State's win over the Spartans with 14 tackles, including a sack.

Finally, there is Leman, a repeat honoree. The senior had 12 tackles, including two for loss, as he spearheaded the Fighting Illini front seven that bothered Boeckman all day and keyed the upset.


Defensive Back First Team: cornerbacks Reggie Corner (Akron) and Marcus Thomas (Illinois) along with safeties Vince Gliatta (Youngstown State) and Otis Wiley (Michigan State).
Second Team: David Pender (Purdue), Andre Jones (Akron), Justin Sanders (Illinois) and T.J. Williams (Michigan State).

Corner, an aptly named Zip, notched six tackles, including one for loss, had an interception and caused another while playing sticky coverage, while Thomas made four solo tackles and had the crucial interception that ended Ohio State's last possession of the day.

Gliatta, a senior from Canton who transferred to YSU from Penn State, had 11 total stops, including three for loss and caused the only turnover of the OSU-YSU game when he sacked Boeckman and forced the Buckeye quarterback to fumble.

Wiley returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown to give the Spartans some life in the second half.


SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker
First Team: Taylor Mehlhaff, Wisconsin.

This Badger, who was the coaches' selection for the all-conference first team, was the only OSU opponent with multiple touchbacks and he added a field goal as well.
Second Team: Brett Swenson, Michigan State (43-yard field goal)

Punter
First Team: Zoltan Mesko, Michigan.

Arguably Michigan's most valuable player of Lloyd Carr's last regular season game as a head football coach, Mesko punted 12 times, including three inside the OSU 20 and a booming 68-yarder.


Second Team: John Stec, Akron.

How can we deny a guy any love after he punts 14 times in one game?


Returner:
First Team: Stephen Simmons, Northwestern.
Second Team: A.J. Wallace, Penn State.

Simmons returned the opening kickoff of the second half 99 yards for the Wildcats' only points while Wallace, with his 97-yarder for a score, saved some face for the Nittany Lions as they were dominated on their home field on national television.

The nod goes to Simmons for covering two yards more, however.


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