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Buckeye Bits: Larry Johnson and D-line talk camp progress, are five defensive ends better than one?

All of the latest Ohio State news from around the beat and beyond.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Ohio State at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We haven’t done a mask reminder in awhile, so I thought we were a due. Especially considering NFL players and teams are beginning to get a little lackadaisical with their quarantine rules. This pandemic, despite what Florida seems to believe, is far from over, and frankly, as Mr. Mayfield so eloquently put it, it’s really and truly not that damn hard to wear a mask, wash your hands and limit your social engagements. I want things to go back to normal, people. This is the only way that’s going to happen.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into today’s updates from inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Facility and beyond.


From around Land-Grant Holy Land...

Ohio State makes the cut for No. 1 WR in 2022

Gene Ross, LGHL

Death, taxes and Brian Hartline snagging the nation’s best wide receivers.

Column: Ohio State probably won’t have a thousand-rusher this year, and that’s okay

Matt Tamanini, LGHL

A shortened season, a quarterback with an arm and two strong backs with different strengths coming off injuries. That’s not exactly a recipe for a 1,000-yard rusher. But as Matt writes in his column: “who cares?” It might take three guys in Justin Fields, Master Teague and Trey Sermon to move the ball down the field, but the important thing is...the ball will be moved down the field.

Yesterday’s Bits

Gene Ross, LGHL

Before we get into updates from Larry Johnson and Ohio State’s defensive line, check out yesterday’s Buckeye Bits to hear from running backs coach Tony Alford about the position battle, followed by Teague and Sermon.


From around the gridiron...

The next position group to face the Ohio State media was Larry Johnson and his defensive line, who took to the podium Wednesday afternoon to discuss camp progress.

To begin, Johnson praised the doctors at Ohio State’s medical center for taking care of senior tackle Haskell Garrett after he was shot in early September, adding that they’re in a “wait-and-see” mode in regards to his return to the field. He called it a “sensitive situation.”

Johnson had a lot of good things to say about sophomore defensive end Zach Harrison’s work ethic and improvement. Harrison is considered to be Chase Young’s “replacement,” however Johnson wants his guys stray away from that mentality and to be their own player.

Going off the idea of one player replacing Young, Johnson is doing things a little differently this year, as he said he has five guys in Jonathon Cooper, Harrison, Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday and Javontae Jean-Baptise who could start right now.

Johnson adds that its impossible for defensive ends to play 60 plays at full-speed, so he’ll instead use his depth to rotate players and keep them fresh.

Next up at the mic was junior defensive end Tyreke Smith, who said this is an important year for him. He’s been taking care of his body, rehabbing more often, watching more film and trying to learn as much as he can from Johnson.

He also praised junior tackle Tommy Togiai on his leadership.

After Smith came Antwuan Jackson, who discussed potentially playing in both the 1-tech and 3-tech spots this season. He said the two positions aren’t all that different in Ohio State’s defense.

Jackson also had good things to say about Nick Petit-Frere, Wyatt Davis and the Buckeyes’ stacked offensive line, calling it “a war every day” to go up against them.

Earlier in the presser, Johnson explained that nose guards aren’t usually viewed as pass rushers because they get double-teamed, with DaVon Hamilton being the exception last year. However, he expects Togiai to make an impact as a pass rusher as well.

Once it was Togiai’s turn at the podium, he reiterated Johnson’s comparison.

Togiai also agreed with Jackson, saying Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis and Harry Miller are probably the best offensive linemen he will face and going against them every day makes him a better player.

Togiai went on to talk about the younger guys who have stepped up, naming tackles Ty Hamilton and Jaden McKenzie specifically.

During Jean-Baptiste’s availability, he was asked to provide a scouting report on himself, to which he responded that he’s not the heaviest DE, but his length and speed — which he said is his greatest strength — should counteract that.

He also expanded more on Johnston’s comment about depth at the defensive end position, saying the group has come to an understanding that sharing snaps actually benefits them. The better each DE gets, the better they are as a whole.

Next up was Zach Harrison, who agreed with Jean-Baptiste and Johnson that the defensive end position probably isn’t going to be a one-man show this fall like it has been in recent seasons.

As he was looking back at his freshman year performance, he said there were so many things he could have done better, and he’s spent the offseason improving on all of those things, even during lockdown.

Last but not least, Tyler Friday talked about the improvements he’s made, and that, he, like Jackson, could potentially play two positions this season.

Reiterating what the other defensive ends have said, Friday says the biggest thing for the group this season is that they’re “a bunch of no-names.” There’s no “Bosa” or “Young.”

He says they’ve each made it their mission to be the best defensive ends they can be, while also hinting at what we may see from Smith come October.

From around the hardwood...

Yep. These are IT.

From around the league...

After completing 32 of his 45 pass attempts for 314 yards— both career-bests— Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been benched.

“Performance related,” he says. Interesting. I’ll let you guess which quarterback below is Haskins.

Not only is Haskins no longer QB1, he’s not even QB2.

I can’t wait until the day that we can all point and laugh at The Washington Football Team and Ron Rivera after Haskins has landed on a team who actually took the time and energy to build their offense around him. We as Buckeye fans know what the kid can do, and one lucky NFL team is about to find out themselves.

Why do I feel like this is only the beginning of a rampage of positive tests in the league?

Oh, that’s why!

From everywhere else...

The MAC is BACK, with each team playing three weeknight games to start the season. First up: Bowling Green vs. Toledo. (If you’re BGSU, this is a much nicer way to begin the season than with their previously scheduled opponent)

I have never had it, but the hype surrounding this announcement made me think I should probably include it here?