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tBBC How They Compare: 2014 Defense vs. 2016 Defense

Discussion in 'News' started by Brandon Zimmerman, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. How They Compare: 2014 Defense vs. 2016 Defense
    Brandon Zimmerman
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


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    On Friday, I took a position by position look at how the 2014 and 2016 offenses compared heading into their respective seasons. It showed the two teams were pretty similar on paper and each had their strengths. Today we will take a look at the defenses and see how they stack up against each other heading into the season.

    Defensive End

    The 2014 Buckeyes had a sophomore by the name of Joey Bosa…maybe you have heard of him? In his freshman season, Bosa had 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. It’s fair to say the 2014 team was set with Bosa attacking from the edge. He was one of a few known quantities on the team.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will be turning to Bosa’s back-up, redshirt sophomore Sam Hubbard. In his first season at the defensive end position, Hubbard was spectacular in a limited amount of playing

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    Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis will need to step up in the absence of Joey Bosa.


    time racking up 28 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.

    EDGE: 2014 Buckeyes. As much as I love Hubbard, Bosa was already on a path to stardom after starting his freshman year and dominating at times. Hubbard will introduce himself to the national audience this year but Bosa was more of a known quantity going into the season.

    Defensive Tackle

    The 2014 Buckeyes had a junior who was transitioning from defensive end named Adolphus Washington. Coming into the 2014 campaign, the former five-star recruit had 23 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and one forced fumble.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will likely be turning to junior Tracy Sprinkle who had a tremendous spring practice. In limited playing time last year, Sprinkle had four tackles and one fumble recovery but really impressed during the spring.

    EDGE: 2014 Buckeyes. Although Washington was unproven at tackle, he had already showed some flashes of great play in his previous two seasons. Sprinkle looked good in the spring game but so have a host of others over the year who didn’t turn out great. Spring game greatness is no guarantee for real game success.

    Defensive Tackle

    The 2014 Buckeyes had senior Michael Bennett at the other defensive tackle position. Coming into the season, Bennett had 70 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks over three seasons. On an inexperienced team, Bennett was one of the veterans who was looked at to keep the team on track.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will likely be turning to former four star recruit, junior Michael Hill. After playing in only two games his first two years on campus, Hill was able to crack the rotation last year playing in nine games. In his career with Ohio State, Hill has accumulated 15 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and one sack.

    EDGE: 2014 Buckeyes. Bennett was one of a few returning starters on the team and had established himself as one of the best tackles in the B1G.

    Defensive End

    The 2014 Buckeyes were turning to senior Steve Miller after the suspension of Noah Spence. (First let’s take a moment of silence and remember how amazing it would have been to see Spence and Bosa start opposite each other in 2014 with Bennett and Washington in the middle.) Coming into the season, Miller had played in 11 games over three seasons compiling 14 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and three sacks.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will actually have a returning starter here as Tyquan Lewis is back after leading the team in sacks in 2015. In his first season starting, Lewis had 54 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and eight sacks.

    EDGE: 2016 Buckeyes. They are finally on the board on the defensive side of the ball. Lewis quietly was one of the better defensive linemen in the Big Ten last season. Having him back will help the other three guys transitioning to starting roles.

    Weakside Linebacker

    The 2014 Buckeyes were turning to redshirt freshman Darron Lee. There was not much known about Lee besides the fact that he was essentially a tremendous athlete who was transitioning from high school quarterback to linebacker. (SPOILER ALERT: It worked out pretty well)

    The 2016 Buckeyes will be turning to either junior Chris Worley or sophomore Jerome Baker. Coming into the season, Worley has 28 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble over two seasons. During his freshman season, Baker had four tackles and a pass deflection. Although he is most remembered so far for his acrobatic interception in the spring game.


    EDGE: 2016 Buckeyes. This was a tough one but I gave the edge to 2016 because of the experience Worley and Baker have coming into the season (16 games) compared to Lee (0 games).

    Middle Linebacker

    The 2014 Buckeyes had senior Curtis Grant returning to head the linebacker crew. In his first three seasons on campus, Grant had 66 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks.

    The 2016 Buckeyes have their second returning starter in junior Raekwon McMillan. After backing up Grant in 2014, McMillan has taken charge of the starting job and turned into one of the best in the nation. In two seasons (one starting), McMillan has 173 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, five pass deflections, and one fumble recovery.

    EDGE: 2016 Buckeyes. This one is not even close as the 2016 Buckeyes have possibly the best middle linebacker to play at Ohio State in a while.

    Strongside Linebacker

    The 2014 Buckeyes were turning to second year starter junior Joshua Perry. In his first two years on campus, Perry had accumulated 67 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will be turning to junior Dante Booker or redshirt freshman Justin Hilliard. In a reserve role during his first two seasons, Booker has 22 tackles and one tackle for loss. Hilliard, on the other hand, is a former five star recruit and the former top linebacker coming out of high school.

    EDGE: 2014 Buckeyes. With Perry returning, the Buckeyes were in a good position at the linebacker position. Perry had not been spectacular in his first year starting but he was very consistent and smart which is very important with young teams.

    Cornerback

    The 2014 Buckeyes had senior Doran Grant returning to lead the secondary after playing opposite of Bradley Roby the previous season. In his previous three seasons, Grant had 77 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, and 10 pass deflections.

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    Conley will be counted on to shut down one side of the field.


    The 2016 Buckeyes have a returning starter of their own in junior Gareon Conley. After backing up Eli Apple in 2014, Conley replaced Grant last year and excelled. In two seasons, Conley has 65 tackles, one tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks, two interceptions, and seven pass deflections.

    EDGE: None. If I had a gun to my head, I’d lean towards Conley here as I think he is a better player but both of these guys are solid returning starters which both help the new secondary. The edge is extremely minimal by either player, if any at all.

    Cornerback

    The 2014 Buckeyes had a battle for the job opposite of Grant between redshirt freshman Eli Apple and true freshman Gareon Conley. Both players were highly regarded recruits with no previous playing experience.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will likely be turning to redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore. Battling injuries his first two years on campus, Lattimore finally appears healthy and is drawing rave reviews from the coaching staff. Last year, Lattimore had four tackles and two pass deflections in an injury shortened season.

    EDGE: 2016 Buckeyes. I will give the edge to Lattimore here as he has actually played in a game coming into the season. Just like the other cornerback position, the edge is pretty minimal.

    Safety

    The 2014 Buckeyes were turning to sophomore Tyvis Powell. As a freshman, Powell started at nickel back and had a pretty good season racking up 48 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, two pass deflections, and one fumble recovery.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will also likely be turning to a former starting nickel back in junior Damon Webb. In two years on campus, Webb has 13 tackles, one pass deflection, and one forced fumble. Webb missed most of his sophomore season due to a suspension.

    EDGE: 2014 Buckeyes. I wholeheartedly believe Webb is a better player but Powell was a proven commodity coming into the 2014 season. Powell had a lot of playing experience in his first year on campus whereas Webb has only seen minimal action in eight games due to the Buckeyes transitioning away from using nickel backs and his suspension.

    SAFETY

    The 2014 Buckeyes were turning to sophomore Vonn Bell to start opposite of Powell. While Bell was not technically a returning starter (remember somehow he backed up Pitt Brown), he did start in the Orange Bowl against Clemson. During his freshman season, Bell had 19 tackles, one tackle for loss, and one interception.

    The 2016 Buckeyes will be turning to redshirt freshman Malik Hooker. The former basketball player exploded onto the scene during the spring game where he had two interceptions and a touchdown.


    EDGE: 2014 Buckeyes. I think Hooker will be good but Bell had already shown how special he was in that game against Clemson.

    Conclusion

    In my opinion, the 2014 Buckeyes were in a better position at six different positions while the 2016 team only had the edge in four positions.

    The biggest difference was on the defensive line. I believe the defensive line will be great in 2016 and they have A LOT better depth but the starting four upfront for that 2014 squad was darn good and experienced. It would have been even more of an edge if Spence had stayed out of trouble. The secondary in 2014 was also in a lot better position with three of the four starters having significant playing time in 2013.

    The post How They Compare: 2014 Defense vs. 2016 Defense appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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