2014 Ohio St Preview: What You Need To Know
Ohio State DE Joey Bosa
Ohio State DE Joey Bosa
Posted Aug 19, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Ohio State (Getty Images)

2014 Ohio State Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Ohio State Preview  
What You Need To Know About The Offense: Even if the Buckeyes don’t finish seventh in the nation in total offense and third in scoring again, the O should still be efficient and brutally effective as long as J.T. Barrett can step up and shine right away. After a year of power running from Carlos Hyde behind a veteran offensive front, expect more of the same, only without Hyde and with a revamped line - and without Braxton Miller after losing the star quarterback for the year with a shoulder problem. It might take a little bit before the front five comes together, but there’s talent – it’s all about putting the pieces of the puzzle together. There should be more running back by committee, but the offense will still work around the quarterback, and it's Barrett's chance to become a star. A dangerous runner in the open field and an improving passer, if he can mature his game as the season goes on and balance out the offense a bit, look out. With a great receiving corps and an all-star tight end in Jeff Heuerman to work with, the Miller-less offense should still be fine.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: A disaster at the end of last season, be very, very disappointed if there isn’t a night-and-day difference for a D that was great against the run, awful against anyone who could throw, and fattened up statistically against the mediocre offenses. This year, if the line isn’t the best in the country, that means someone else has an absolute killer – the Buckeyes are loaded with future NFL starters up front. The linebacking corps loses do-it-all playmaker Ryan Shazier, but there’s experience returning to clean up behind the great line. The secondary? After losing three starters and crashing and burning over the final few games, there’s a chance it could be far better with a more attacking style that’ll challenge receivers – the coaching staff appears to have fixed the glitch looking to press more.

Players You Need To Know

1. DT Michael Bennett, Sr.
He should be in the NFL right now, but that also goes for several other Ohio State players. The 6-3, 285-pound interior presence is exactly what the next-level types want, with the versatility to work on the nose, as a 3-4 end, or as a 3-technique tackle who can crash into the backfield. A true disruptive force inside, he came up with seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles with 42 tackles, he did exactly what the line needed. No, he’s not a mammoth presence inside who’ll gum up the works like past Buckeye defensive tackles, but he’s active enough to be the star of a loaded front four.

2. DE Joey Bosa, Soph.
The superstar recruit of last year was every bit as good as advertised. The 6-6, 275-pound Florida native was a fantastic get for the program, snagging him away from SEC country, and he showed why with 7.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and 44 tackles. Very big, very quick off the ball, and with a motor that doesn’t stop, he’s a prototype NFL pass rusher who’s already a top prospect. While he was fine throughout the year, he came on as the season came to a close, making 9.5 of his tackles for loss and 5.5 of his sacks in the final five games. With so much attention paid to the other linemen, expect double-digit sacks and All-America honors.

3. DE Noah Spence, Jr.
The 6-3, 252-pound Spence was a dominant pass rushing force at times last season, finishing second on the team with 14.5 tackles for loss while leading the way with eight sacks. A speed rusher who’s a blur off the edge, he has all the tools and all the talent to be a superstar, coming up with big plays time after time, but he was suspended for the Sugar Bowl against Clemson and for the first few games of the 2014 season after testing positive for ecstasy. Out of central casting, he looks like an NFL defensive end with the toughness to make 52 tackles and the burst to be disruptive enough to make offenses worry about him.

4. CB Doran Grant, Sr.
Fast, fast, fast, the former Ohio state champion sprinter and hurdler has no problems hanging around with the speedy targets, and with 5-11, 191-pound size, he doesn’t have issues with the bigger ones. Consistency is going to be his biggest key, doing a nice job last year on the other side of Bradley Roby, but giving up a few big plays here and there. All the tools are there, and he has the experience after making 58 tackles with three picks and ten broken up passes, but now he’s the No. 1 corner and he’ll have to be even more physical and more of a ball-hawk in press coverage. He won’t have any problem handling the job.

5. DE Adolphis Washington, Jr.
The 6-4, 295-pound Washington is built like a 3-4 end, but will work on the outside in the 4-3 with excellent quickness for his size and good pass rushing skills either inside or out coming up with 36 tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss as a spot starter. A Parade All-American, he was a top recruit for the program with the athleticism to be a star basketball player as well as a factor on the football field. He’ll play more of a role early on, but he’ll eventually be part of a rotation being used in a variety of ways to get his athleticism on the field.

6. TE Jeff Heuerman, Sr.
While the 6-6, 252-pound senior might not be like another wide receiver, he knows how to stretch the field averaging a team-leading 17.9 yards per catch finishing third on the team with 26 catches for 466 yards and four scores. A good athlete and a dangerous target, he can block as well as make big plays, highlighted by a 57-yard touchdown against Clemson and with 116 yards and a score against Purdue. As the season went on he grew into more and more of a weapon, and now he’ll be used even more.

7. WR Devin Smith, Sr.
Corey Brown might have been the team’s leading receiver, but Smith was even more dangerous averaging 15 yards per catch making 44 grabs for 660 yards and eight scores. At 6-1 and 198 pounds he has good size to go along with blazing deep speed and home run hitting ability, averaging 20.6 yards per grab two years ago and coming up with the last-second, game-winning touchdown catch to beat Wisconsin as a sophomore. While he disappeared at times late last year, catching just six passes over the final five games, but he made a few count with a 53-yard scoring play against Michigan and a 39-yard touchdown against Indiana. Now it’ll be his job to be more of a No. 1 receiver at the outside X position.

8. WR Dontre Wilson, Soph.
Is he a running back? Is he a receiver? He’ll be a little bit of everything in a do-it-all role in the slot after serving last season as a backup rushing option. He’s not huge at just 5-10 and 180 pounds, but he’s lightning quick and dangerous whenever he gets the ball in his hands on the move. This offseason he was given more of a role after mostly being used to make defenses worry, rushing for 250 yards and a score and catching 22 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Dangerous as a kickoff returner, he averaged close to 25 yards per pop and almost broke a few. Now he’ll be more of a target for Braxton Miller, but he’ll still get a few carries a game.

9. P Cameron Johnston, Soph.
Johnston came in as a freshman and blasted away right away, averaging 44 yards per kick with a mere two touchbacks and putting a whopping 31 inside the 20. The former Australian Rules Football player might not be huge, but he’s a great athlete and has a big enough leg to get the team out of jams and get the ball deep. An all-star with Ray Guy potential, he might not get a ton of chances, but he’ll make the most of them.

10. QB Taylor Decker, Jr.
A good part of the mix for the last few seasons, now this is his line to run. The 6-7, 315-pound tackle has the size and now the experience, starting every game over the last two years. The only returning starter up front, he'll earn all-star honors and should be the team's best pass protector. A great recruit with the right frame and good athleticism, he looks the part.

- 2014 Ohio State Preview