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Ohio State’s surplus of defensive line talent results in heavy competition for playing time

The Buckeye coaching staff will have to find creative ways to utilize all the talent on the defensive line.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“If you’ve shown you are capable of playing to the level we expect, we’ll try to find a way to get you on the field, no question.”

-Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State once again has one of the best defensive lines in the country, and it has only gotten stronger from what was seen in 2016. Not only do the Buckeyes have starters Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, and Sam Hubbard returning, but they have added highly-touted recruit Chase Young into the fold. Sophomore Nick Bosa is primed for a big season as he is fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in his senior year of high school. All of this talent, and the likes of Dre’Mont Jones, Jashon Cornell, and Jonathon Cooper haven’t even been mentioned.

With all the talent Ohio State has amassed, there are only so many snaps to go around. Luckily the Ohio State coaching staff has a plan that helps not only the team, but the players as well. The end result is, while the defensive linemen might not be on the field quite as much to stuff the stat sheet, they are getting quality film out there, which will be examined by NFL scouts. With the surplus of game-changing defensive ends Ohio State has, there is a possibility the Buckeyes could use four ends at times with Jones in the middle of the defensive line. The Buckeyes will have to get creative to try and find exactly what works to maximize the talent they are putting on the field, but if Urban Meyer and his coaching staff find the right mixture, it’ll make for a long year for opposing Big Ten quarterbacks.

It isn’t very often that Urban Meyer’s teams lose a bowl game, but when they do, something special happens the next season. In 2007, Florida lost the Capital One Bowl to Michigan. The next season the Gators won the national title. In 2013, Ohio State lost the Orange Bowl to Clemson. The following season the Buckeyes won the national title. Now with the Buckeyes having lost last year’s Fiesta Bowl to Clemson, it isn’t out of the question that Meyer could make it a third national title following a loss in a bowl game the previous season.

The reason that there could be something to Urban Meyer’s teams losing a bowl game the previous season and following it up with a national title is the bowl game loss forces Meyer to change some of what wasn’t working, along with demanding more accountability from not only his players, but also his coaching staff.

Following the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson, Meyer shook up his defensive coaching staff — since it obviously wasn’t getting the job done. Following the 2016 Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, Meyer again made some changes, this time bringing in offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day to revive a struggling offense. Meyer is keeping this stat close to the vest though, as defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis said he has never heard of the stat. If Ohio State goes on to win the national title this year, the correlation between bowl game loss the previous season and national title the next year will likely be talked about a lot more.

“I think at times we got away from (our tempo) and that’s part of who we are. The program or organizations (Wilson and Day have) been at, they’ve also been a part of that (tempo). So they’re just going to enhance that.”

-Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett via Jacob Myers, The Lantern

There wasn’t a huge statistical drop-off from J.T. Barrett’s 2014 and 2016 seasons, but there was a very noticeable change in how Barrett was asked to run the offense. Even though he was thrust into the starter’s role as a redshirt freshman with the injury to Braxton Miller, Barrett was able to rely on weapons like Ezekiel Elliott on the ground and Michael Thomas and Devin Smith through the air. The 2016 Buckeye offense had a quality running back in Mike Weber for Barrett to lean on, but the quarterback certainly didn’t receive nearly as much production through the air.

What made the 2014 Ohio State offense so successful was the tempo they used to keep their opponents on their heels. Following their title season, Tom Herman left to become the head coach at Houston, and since then the offense hasn’t been quite the same. Now with Ed Warinner and Tim Beck gone, new hires Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day should be able to reintroduce some tempo into the offense, which should help the Ohio State offense return to some of the successes they found in 2014. If Barrett and the Buckeyes can adapt to what Wilson and Day are trying to do with the offense, Ohio State could see their season end much like their 2014 season did.

“I never say never. If the opportunity comes, that’s something to definitely look into.”

-Former Ohio State running back Daniel “Boom” Herron via John Vargo, Tribune Chronicle

With his NFL playing career looking like it is over, former Ohio State running Daniel “Boom” Herron is now giving back to the area where he grew up. Recently Herron helped out at a benefit basketball camp for a four-year old in the Warren area who has leukemia. With his hometown being such a tight-knit community, it wasn’t something that Herron wanted to miss, as the benefit was to help pay for his son’s friend’s medical bills.

Herron was cut by the Buffalo Bills in early September last year, and since then has moved back to Warren, and started his own business, Boom Herron Logistic Services. Herron is still hoping to make a return to the NFL, but as time passes it seems less and less likely that he’ll get that call. While Herron might not return to the active roster, he would be open to getting into coaching if he was asked. Even though Herron misses playing football, he feels lucky to have gotten the opportunity to get as far as he has and achieve what he did at Ohio State and in the NFL.