Buckeyes Talk Buckeyes: Defense

Ohio State senior football players talk about some of the key subjects to be addressed this spring in our second installment of "Buckeyes Talk Buckeyes". Replacing five starters and meeting typically high expectations are among the topics.

How will the Buckeyes cope with the loss of starting safeties Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman?
Senior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa: "Anderson and Kurt were starters for a long time, which means there was somebody backing them up for a long time also so there are guys who are ready to step in. We've got a senior in Aaron Gant who has been here for a while and he's going to be able to step in. Orhian Johnson is ready to step in. Jermale Hines has already been on the field and he's going to start at safety for us. We're expected to be good at safety."

Is Etienne Sabino ready to take over at strongside ("Sam") linebacker?
Senior middle linebacker Brian Rolle: "Etienne always wants to be perfect, but he's doing a great job of just doing what he has to do and not taking everything so literally and just playing within himself. He reminds me of Bobby Carpenter: a big, physical guy, a long guy, but he's going be a great guy this year. He's very physical - most people don't know - but he's a good kid. He's always in the film room, probably more than I am, but he wants to be perfect and it's kind of hard to teach him that you can't be perfect all the time. I look forward to playing next to him next year."

What impact does Cameron Heyward's return have on the team?
Senior weakside linebacker Ross Homan: "Cam is a huge, huge asset to us to come back. He has a motor that if he would have left for the NFL I would have been all for his decision as well, but as soon as I talked to him and he said he was coming back, I was just all for that. From a linebacker standpoint, you love that because he was just destroying two guys in front of you and that makes it easier for you. Cam has the ability to take over a game himself."

The defense lost five starters, including three captains. Will replacing those guys be difficult?
Chekwa: "I don't want to offend the offensive guys or anything, but we play defense at Ohio State. That's what we do. That's what we love to do. I'm a defensive player so I'm speaking biased from a defensive standpoint, but when I step on the field knowing that we're going to play great defense. We'll let the offense do what they're going to do. We're going to play great defense. No matter who we put in there, the defense is going to be great. We have real high expectations. I don't think we're going to have to start over at all or slow down. I think we're good off the Rose Bowl win and we're just going to keep on going. We don't have too many holes to fill that we're going to have to slow down and regroup and start over."

How can Devon Torrence improve on his first season as a starter?
Senior cornerback Devon Torrence: I feel like I can be a big hitter. Last year I believe I was learning more about how to position my body at the collegiate level at cornerback. I want to get my hands on a lot more passes and knock down more passes this year, of course they've got to throw it my way a lot more to do that, but those are my two main goals for the season.

"Last year I just felt like I was just out there in the fire. Either I was going to get burnt or I was going to make some plays. Fortunately I made some plays and got the starting job. I really think midway through the season I grew as a cornerback and learned the position. I believe that I took to the position really well."

How good can this team be overall?
Chekwa: "The first thing Coach Tressel mentioned to us in our first meeting after the Rose Bowl was, ‘D-B-T-H - Don't believe the hype'. Right now we've got a lot of hype that it's going to be a great season next year, but what we're trying to do is get back to what we do, get back to the basics, back to the fundamentals, back to learning the plays over again and getting more confident. The stuff they're talking about, that's great, but it's not going to help us. We've got to help ourselves. We're just going to go out there and grind it out and expect to do well next season."

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