4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE OHIO STATE DEFENSE
– The defense didn’t exactly take a year off, but … here comes the Ohio State defense again. Tackling was way too much of a suggestion at times, it wasn’t a physical enough group up front, and for all the talent in the secondary, the pass defense was disappointing. Even Ohio State has to rebuild a wee bit from time to time, but there’s no excuse this year to not be a whole lot better, starting with …
– The D line lost Nick Bosa for most of last year and then to San Francisco, and Dre’Mont Jones left early, but the pass rush will still be terrific for a front four that will keep the NFL full of fresh bodies.
Chase Young and Jonathan Cooper are set on the outside, and the tackle situation is potentially great if 285-pound senior Robert Landers stays healthy and 310-pound Davon Hamilton can be a rock on the nose.
Freshman Zach Harrison was one of the nation’s top defensive end recruits, and last year’s star gets Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday are about to play bigger roles.
– Three of the top four tacklers are back, and they’re in the linebacking corps. This was an inconsistent group, but the experience should change that. Watch out for more plays in the backfield and a tougher season against the run.
239-pound junior Pete Werner made 58 stops on the outside, 232-pound Tuf Borland returns on the other side after coming up with 67 stops, and 240-pound thumper Malik Harrison is back on the inside after tying for the team lead with 81 stops.
– CB Kendall Sheffield might have left early for the league of mercenaries, but the secondary should be stronger with so much experience returning. Junior Brendon White will work a bit like a linebacker in a new Bullet position after finishing fifth on the team with 46 tackles – he’ll be a statistical superstar.
Leading tackler Jordan Fuller is back at the other safety spot in what should be an all-star season, and the corner combination of Jeffrey Okuda and Damon Arnette will be as good and as physical as any in the country.