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tBBC Pre-Fall Outlook: Ohio State Defensive Line

Discussion in 'News' started by Brandon Zimmerman, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. Pre-Fall Outlook: Ohio State Defensive Line
    Brandon Zimmerman
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here

    Back in February, I took a look at arguably the strongest positional group for the 2016 Buckeyes. Things have not changed too much five months later as we are staring directly down the barrel of fall practice beginning. There were two major shake-ups which came out of the spring practices. First, Donovan Munger unfortunately had to end his playing career due to blood clots. The second major thing to come out of spring was the rise of Tracy Sprinkle. Let’s take a look at the projected starting lineups and the major players who will be wreaking havoc on the opposing quarterbacks.

    It is pretty much a foregone conclusion junior Tyquan Lewis and sophomore Sam Hubbard will be the starters at defensive end for the Buckeyes. Living in the shadows of Bosa and Washington, the North Carolina native Lewis put up outstanding numbers in 2015. His stat line of 54 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, and 8 sacks even surprised me as he just quietly went about his

    Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis hope to meet in the backfield a lot in 2016.

    business without much fanfare.

    On the opposite side of the line, Hubbard will finally get a chance to show what he can do in a full-time position. Backing up Bosa last season, Hubbard managed 28 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries which all showcased his wide-array of skills. After playing linebacker, tight end, and safety it appears Hubbard has finally found a home at defensive end.

    As impressive as those two are, there are numerous players chomping at the bit to get their shot at some playing time at the defensive end position. There will certainly be no shortage of talent when Lewis or Hubbard take a breather. The first guy off the bench will be junior Jalyn Holmes who will once again play the primary back-up role to Lewis. In 2015, Holmes had 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. Holmes is a guy who is constantly praised by the coaching staff but is at a very deep position which has hurt his playing time.

    Outside of Holmes, you have three guys who will see a lot of playing time at defensive end and possibly defensive tackle in some cases. The first is redshirt freshman Rashod Berry who moved from tight end in the off-season. Berry exploded onto the scene during the spring game where he showcased his elite speed off of the edge. If Holmes and Berry weren’t scary enough as back-ups, the Buckeyes then have two five-star recruits coming in and already making an impression, Nick Bosa and Jonathon Cooper. I would not be surprised to see both of these guys get a lot of playing time this year in a variety of roles. As I predicted in February, I could also see Bosa moving inside and grabbing a starting job but that seems a little more unlikely after the spring game.

    At defensive tackle, it appears like juniors Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle have a pretty tight grip on the starting jobs. Hill has spent the past two seasons moving his way up the depth chart

    Sprinkle has made me a believer. (Image courtesy of 247Sports)

    and has played well at every opportunity. At 305 pounds, Hill will be counted on to clog up the middle to allow the linebackers to roam freely.

    Sprinkle is a guy that I was never overly impressed with for no apparent reason. I read over and over how Sprinkle was the guy to watch and that he would win the starting job but I was never a believer. That was until the spring game when Sprinkle was essentially doing whatever he wanted in the middle. He has got the size (6’3”, 293 lbs) and the athleticism to really make a difference with teams focusing so much on Hubbard and Lewis.

    Sprinkle was not the only defensive tackle who caught my eye in the spring. Switching over from defensive end, redshirt freshmen Jashon Cornell and Dre’Mont Jones both had a tremendous spring games. Just like Sprinkle was able to do, Cornell and Jones were pretty unstoppable and made the interior offensive line look really bad on a few occasions. I don’t foresee either challenging Hill or Sprinkle for the starting job but they will receive a lot of playing time…especially on third and long.

    Others who could possibly see time this year are sophomore defensive end Darius Slade, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Robert Landers, and true freshmen Malik Barrow. All three of these guys are very capable but are a little bit buried on the depth chart at the moment.

    Pre-Spring Predicted Depth Chart Pre-Fall Predicted Depth Chart
    Tyquan Lewis
    Jalyn Holmes
    Tyquan Lewis
    Jalyn Holmes
    DT Nick Bosa
    Jashon Cornell
    Tracy Sprinkle
    Dre’Mont Jones OR Nick Bosa
    DT Donovan Munger
    Michael Hill
    Michael Hill
    Jashon Cornell
    DE Sam Hubbard
    Jonathon Cooper
    Sam Hubbard
    Nick Bosa OR Rashod Berry OR Jonathon Cooper

    The options are endless with what the Buckeyes will be able to do on the defensive line. The coaching staff has stated over and over again their desire to rotate 10-12 guys up-front and they should be able to do that this year. The four starters are set in my opinion but Bosa will play a huge role coming off the bench at a variety of different positions this year. These guys will be the key to the Buckeyes hopes in Norman, Oklahoma.

    The post Pre-Fall Outlook: Ohio State Defensive Line appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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