These articles will be submitted from areas of lowest concern to highest concern. While Ohio State returns the overwhelming majority of its 2014 team, and welcomes in a highly-touted recruiting class, it will be important for Coach Meyer to convey to his team that complacency within the player ranks could derail any hopes of the Buckeyes repeating as national champions in 2015.
Ten practices in, with five practices remaining, including the April 18th spring game. Opportunities to make positive impressions upon the coaching staff regarding the depth chart are becoming scarce.
Earlier in the series, my questions and focus was upon emerging players at backup positions, a clear testament to Ohio State’s depth across the board. The remaining articles will focus upon position areas where Ohio State has lost a player(s) to graduation or eligibility, which is why I have ranked these position groups higher in terms of importance.
2. Defensive End
Key Players/Contributors Lost: Noah Spence (transfer); Steve Miller (eligibility); Rashad Frazier (eligibility)
Key Players/Contributors Returning: Joey Bosa (Junior), Sam Hubbard (Redshirt Freshman), Jalyn Holmes (Sophomore), Tyquan Lewis (Redshirt Sophomore), Darius Slade (Redshirt Freshman), Jashon Cornell (Freshman)
Defensive End was a challenge for Ohio State throughout the 2014 season. Noah Spence was originally suspended for the 2014 Orange Bowl and the first two games of the 2014 season, but Spence’s suspension became permanent after an additional failed drug test. Spence transferred to FCS Eastern Kentucky after the 2014 season.
Steve Miller and Rashad Frazier both manned the vacant defensive end position throughout the 2014 season. While neither were the type of pass rusher that Noah Spence had been for the Buckeyes, both were needed in Ohio State’s march to the 2014 national championship. Steve Miller established himself forever in Buckeye lore with this key play in the 2015 Sugar Bowl versus Alabama…
While Steve Miller was instrumental in the 2015 Sugar Bowl victory, something needs to be stated that will reflect why I have ranked defensive end as a concern heading into the 2015 season. Watch this play earlier in the same 2015 Sugar Bowl game, and you will see why defensive end should be a focal point of interest…
Now keep in mind that not many teams on Ohio State’s 2015 schedule have an offensive line as stout as Alabama’s, and that Steve Miller did make a crucial play later in the 2015 Sugar Bowl that helped to prove the difference against the Crimson Tide. On the other hand, Joey Bosa has established himself at the one defensive end spot, and will be the target of double-team blocks, or possibly triple-team blocks, this season. Ohio State needs someone to consistently apply pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, as well as be a consistent force versus the run. Who will emerge at the open defensive end spot opposite Joey Bosa?
Tyquan Lewis seems to have the inside track, based upon comments made by other Ohio State beat writers, such as @davebiddle...
Tyquan Lewis pretty much has starting spot locked down, but they like the depth behind him with Holmes, Hubbard, Slade.
Besides Tyquan Lewis, other players in the mix...
On the other hand, Meyer pointed out the defensive end spot with Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis as one he's excited to watch.
Interesting that Darius Slade a kid that's under the radar was getting 1st team reps at SDE in place of Bosa who was resting.
Will the open defensive end spot be claimed by the conclusion of the 2015 spring practices? Possibly, but for certain, Ohio State's coaches and fans will be hoping for consistent pressure from any and all of the players who will be occupying that position throughout the 2015 season.