Defensive Line Makes Statement In Scrimmage

Ohio State's defensive linemen want to be dominant this fall, and they played the part for most of Saturday's jersey scrimmage. Led by a seven-sack performance by Solomon Thomas, the D-line kept the pressure on Ohio State's quarterbacks.

Domination is the goal for the Ohio State defensive line, and if Saturday's jersey scrimmage is any indication, it could happen this fall.

The defensive line put pressure on quarterbacks Terrelle Pryor, Joe Bauserman and Justin Siems through most of the scrimmage, helping the defense pile up 13 sacks. While many of those stops were aided by the quarterbacks' use of black noncontact jerseys, the defensive line still had their offensive counterparts on their heels for much of the morning.

"It's a good first step," said defensive end Lawrence Wilson, who was unable to participate while recovering from injury. "We had a lot of sacks collectively. I think we definitely made a statement today in the jersey scrimmage."

Leading the way was sophomore defensive end Solomon Thomas with a scrimmage-high seven sacks for 61 yards. Thomas finished with 12 total tackles, nine of which coming of the solo variety. While only two of the defense's 13 sacks came after the quarterbacks switched to scarlet, live jerseys, Thomas accounted for one.

"It gives me great confidence," Thomas said. "I've definitely got to get a little bigger and become a more physical run stopper, but it gives me great confidence. I'm going into my third year. This is exactly what I needed to step up. I think it's my time and this is how it should be."

Thomas was not the only defensive lineman to contribute to the sack total. Tackle Doug Worthington had 3.5 sacks, while Cameron Heyward added another solo sack. Even without a pair of probable cogs of the 2009 defensive line in Wilson and Nathan Williams, the defensive line combined for 38 tackles.

Depth could be a big part of the defensive line's success in the fall.

"I think we're extremely deep at defensive end and at defensive line in general," Wilson said. "We're extremely deep. We can throw a lot of guys, and that's always a benefit to have a lot of healthy bodies on the defensive line."

In addition to its depth, the unit also boasts the most veteran group of the defense. The majority of the players likely to see significant playing time this fall are upperclassmen, including the top tackles (Worthington and Dexter Larimore) and ends (Thaddeus Gibson and Heyward) on the spring depth chart.

"We're a very experienced group," defensive tackle Todd Denlinger said. "I know the past couple of years we've been kind of the group that's been the most talked about on the defense because we weren't experienced or we weren't doing what we need to do. I think we're putting that chip on our shoulder this year.

"We need to be the position on the defense that's talked about in a good way. We need to be leaders. We need to be a group that steps up and started to make some plays. We lost a lot of great athletes last year. It's time for the defensive line to step up and make some plays."

That attitude has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the Buckeye defense. Safety Anderson Russell said he thinks the defensive line is further along right now than they were at this time last year.

"It's definitely good going into the season that they can already be built up where they are now," Russell said. "They're going to be great for us. Everything really starts with them. When they can get pressure, it helps out the entire defense."

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