Scouting the Opponent: Defense/Special Teams

Texas is about to travel to Glendale, Arizona to take on Jim Tressell's Buckeye club in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. In anticipation of that match-up, Burnt Orange Beat spoke with Mark Rea of to get his thoughts on the clash, and what he thinks are the pivotal parts of the game. This part 2 covers the defense and special teams.

Texas vs. Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Part 2 – Defense and Special Teams

The defense is clearly headlined by James Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman, and Malcolm Jenkins. Who are the defensive stars we probably haven't heard of but should know?

For the last couple of years, the defensive line has been a weakness. Over the last month and a half of the season, those guys played as well as they ever have. A couple of names you may not have heard of: DT Nader Abdallah, DE Thaddeus Gibson and LB/S Tyler Moeller. Abdallah is a career backup making the most of his senior year, Gibson loves to rush the quarterback and Moeller is an undersized guy who just has a knack for being around the football.

How good at coverage are your safeties and who are the #3 and #4 corners who will be tested in our four and five wide receiver formations?

Like with all safeties, you would like for them to be able to cover better. But if they could, they would be corners, wouldn't they? Ohio State has faced several spread offenses this year and uses the nickel and dime almost as much as the base defense. Chimdi Chekwa is the No. 3 corner and is just as good as Jenkins when it comes to coverage.

What is the one area of the Ohio State team that you think might surprise Texas?

This is strictly a guess but I think the Buckeyes might come out throwing the ball.

Can you breakdown your kick and punt coverage units? How about your return units? Are there any scoring threats other than Ray Small in your return game? It looks like your punter A.J. Trapasso and kicker Ryan Pretorius are solid as usual – true?

Pretty vanilla stuff. Small is really the only game-breaker. The kickoff return game is pretty much nonexistent. Trapasso and Pretorius are solid but unspectacular. Trapasso has never had a punt blocked in four years. He's also pretty good at directional punting. Tressel loves to use him as a field-position weapon whenever he can.

Is this senior class the best senior class in the history of Ohio State football with its 43-7 record, three Big 10 championships, two national championship game appearances?

It's hard to say. Old timers would look back at the senior class of 1968-70, which went 27-2 with two Big Ten titles and a national championship. Then there was the 1972-75 group that had Archie Griffin – they went 40-5-1, won the Big Ten title all four years and finished ninth, second, fourth and fourth in the final rankings. There is no doubt this year's senior class is extremely talented and made up of a fine bunch of individuals. When we look back, though, despite all they have accomplished, there's going to be a sense that maybe they could have accomplished a little more.

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