From the Enemy: Insight on OSU LBs and DL

As part of a continuing series, we reach deep into the OSU Enemy Camp to get spy reports from an OSU expert on what to expect from the Buckeyes. This time, Bucknut’s Dave Biddle talks about the linebackers and defensive line.

Mark McLeod: Dave, you gave us some great stuff on the offense the last time we spoke. I want to talk a little defense this time if we can. There are a lot of returning starters on that defensive line. You’ve got three returning starters and then you’ve got Gholston who I guess is a first year guy, can you assess their play this year?

Dave Biddle: “Yeah, Mark, coming into the year I really thought and most everyone thought this was going to be the strength of this Ohio State defense. Losing so many starters in the back seven, really everyone thought the defensive line was going to be the bell cow of the defense and that absolutely turned out that way. It’s a very good defensive line. You start with the tackles- Quinn Pitcock one of the tackles he’s a senior and David Patterson is the other tackle he’s also a senior. They’re both the captains of the defense. Pitcock is definitely the best player on the line. He’s just a bull he’s about 6’3” 300 pounds plays real low, he’s also very fast for his size probably going to be a late first round draft pick this spring in the NFL draft. David Patterson almost is as big as Quinn. He’s not quite as powerful, not quite as quick. He might be like a second day draft pick. He’s that kind of talent, but just a very good tandem in there. Ohio State’s coaches- they’re not one to really talk up their players too much and they said you know coming into the year we think we might have the best tackle tandem in the country at least one of the best. And it’s turned out that way. They’ve both missed games here and there with minor injuries but when they’ve been in there together like you know the Michigan game and some of the other games that they’ve really been a good tandem in there.

And then going out to the defensive ends the starters are Jay Richardson. He’s a fifth year senior and like you mentioned very engulfed as a first year starter, he’s a sophomore. And Jay Richardson a fifth year senior this is really his first year as a starter he’s kind of…he’s been a guy that has all kinds of talent. He’s 6’6” 280 so he’s very big for a defensive end, moves very well always had some trouble getting his motor revved up but this year he’s really into one of those senior years, everybody likes to see out of the seniors. He’s really stepped up and played well and he’s finished with about seven sacks and really did a solid job all year.

And Vernon Gholston- he’s a kind of star in the making he’s a just a sophomore red shirt last year, played as a true freshman in 2004 and then last year he registered because he hurt his hand in camp and he’s really come out this year and played well. I think he’s second on the team in sacks behind Pitcock and he you know he can do a little bit of everything just a strong guy he’s pretty status-ed up in the run. He’s good off the edges as a pass rusher so that’s definitely the strength of the Ohio State defense is the defensive line.”

Coming into the season linebacker seemed to be a question mark in terms of experience because there just wasn’t any there among the starters. But there’s no devoid of talent.

No. You know that was a huge concern losing AJ Hawk, third round pick of the draft, losing Bobby Carpenter that was another first round pick, and losing Anthony Schlagle, the middle linebacker who’s a third round pick by the Jets. I mean they came in here just bare with talent and I shouldn’t say talent just with experience and they had some talent coming up.

James Laurinaitis is a kid that played as a true freshman last year and his dad is “The Animal”, the pro wrestler. I didn’t know much about pro wrestling, but I do now. The Road Warrior and he’s the son of the Animal from the wrestling circuit and he played some of the true freshman last year outside linebacker and we all thought yeah he’s going to be a solid outside linebacker. You know everybody figured he’d stay an outside linebacker. 6’3” 240 pretty good speed. They decided to move him to inside linebacker and it’s really been an amazing move for him. I mean he’s led the team in tackles you know he won the Bronco and the Gershky National player of the year first team all Big 10 he’s really stepped up and just as a playmaker also has five interceptions as a linebacker so he’s really stepped up.

Now the other linebackers—you know Ohio State doesn’t have great linebackers—they have decent linebackers other than Laurinaitis, but it’s nothing to write home about and they’re going to play a lot of nickel against Florida so you’re going to see mostly two linebackers out there all game.

In passing downs that will be a junior named Marcus Freeman. He was supposed to be kind of the next star when he was a freshman and he hasn’t really lived up to that. He’s a solid player, not a star. Really good in pass coverage and then in running downs they’ll take Freeman out and put a guy named Curtis Terry in another junior. He’s a more physical player. He wears #55. And this was really his first year playing for the Buckeyes, but he’s a really physical guy and they have other guys they can put in like a senior like John Kerr who started a lot the games this year, but he’s more of a middle linebacker trying to play outside. Like I said they have some players there a linebacker but other than Laurinaitis no one’s really going to stand out to you. And they’re going to play a lot of nickel.”