Many would expect the key defensive player for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday to be someone like cornerback Bradley Roby, who is one of Ohio State’s top defensive players. Roby has a good case. He was covering Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Allen Robinson, who could easily be one of the nation’s top receivers, and was able to keep him relatively quiet throughout the game.
Or some may think it could be safety Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown who intercepted a pass from Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg at the goal line in the first quarter. Safety C.J. Barnett also had an interception, which led to a Braxton Miller rushing touchdown.
In fact, I would not call any of them the key defensive player for Ohio State on Saturday against Penn State. They all played well, but in my opinion the key defensive player for Ohio State was defensive end Noah Spence.
The sophomore Spence showed us what he is capable of, as he continually rushed the quarterback and even sacked him twice. Penn State was having trouble blocking him, and despite only having two sacks, he seemed to be in the backfield on every play putting pressure on Hackenberg. It was this pressure that caused Hackenberg to throw two interceptions in the game.
Besides his two sacks, Spence had a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
Ohio State’s pass rush had been inconsistent in past weeks, and some weren’t sure if it even existed as they only had one stop behind the line of scrimmage last week against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes were looking for improvement in this area, and they got it.
Spence virtually proved the existence of the Ohio State pass rush by himself on Saturday. He gave head coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes the pass rush they have been looking for and made it a force to be reckoned with. He was unstoppable.
Spence is only a sophomore and he will only get better. Keep an eye out for him on the Ohio State defense. He is sure to be the one rushing the passer or sacking him more often than not.
He not only made a statement for the struggling Ohio State defense but for himself as well.