One of the biggest question marks for the Ohio State Buckeyes as they began spring practice looking to repeat their perfect season from 2012 was the defensive front. Namely, who was going to play there? Six of the seven starters from a year ago in Ohio State’s front seven moved on after the 12-0 campaign, including the team’s leader in sacks, defensive end John Simon. The Buckeyes will have to replace that lost production if they hope to make a run at a BCS National Championship next fall, so where will OSU’s pass rush come from?
As a team, Ohio State recorded 30 sacks last season, led by Simon’s nine quarterback takedowns. Players responsible for 17 of the 30 sacks are no longer on the roster, meaning Urban Meyer will have to look elsewhere to get his quarterback pressures in 2013. The team will undoubtedly be leaning heavily on junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, the only starter from last season to return and the team’s leading returning sack-man following his five sack performance of 2012.
But he will need some help, particularly along the defensive line. While many felt that would be the team’s biggest weakness, a strong spring from sophomore defensive ends Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence has turned perception around and have many predicting great things from the young duo. Washington and Spence were the prized recruits from Meyer’s first recruiting class and combined for four sacks last season in limited action. They impressed during the spring game, combining for seven sacks on the day and frustrating what should be one of the better offensive lines in the Big Ten.
It will take grown on all their parts, seeing as how Shazier, Washington and Spence combined to have as many sacks as John Simon alone in 2012, but the talent is there for Ohio State to not lose ground on defense in 2013. With the immense talent continuing to pour into Columbus, could the young pass rush of the Buckeyes be even better in 2013?