Ohio State’s defense was a tremendous disappointment last season—especially in the final three games, when Michigan, Michigan State and Clemson combined for 1,617 yards and 115 points, and the Buckeyes stumbled to a 1-2 record and needed to pull their sole victory out of a hat.
Even during that collapse, though, the one thing Luke Fickell’s unit did well was get to the passer and force negative plays. It had eight tackles for loss against Michigan State, part of a season when it had 91 total tackles for loss—the 19th-best total in the country.
Ryan Shazier is gone from the outside linebacker position, but in defensive ends Noah Spence and Joey Bosa, Ohio State returns two players who had 13.5 tackles for loss last season. The only other team in the country that can make that claim is Clemson—and as one of those players, Stephone Alexander, is a linebacker, the Buckeyes are the only team that can make that claim about pure defensive lineman.
Which raises an obvious question: Will Ohio State have the best defensive line in college football next season?
And an even more obvious answer…probably.
Spence missed the Orange Bowl and is suspended for the first two games of the season after testing positive for ecstasy, per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com. That will hurt in Week 2 against Virginia Tech and (especially) the previous week against Navy, but form-wise he should be a full-go when Ohio State’s schedule matters most.
Even after the reported…
Continue Reading: Ohio State Football: Joey Bosa, Buckeyes D-Line in for Big 2014 Season