That’s nothing compared to what they’ll see in practice, though. With Noah Spence and Joey Bosa serving as bookends for Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington, the Ohio State defensive line is poised to make its mark as one of the most impactful units of any position at any school in the country. Longtime college football analyst Phil Steele ranked the Buckeyes as the No. 1 defensive line in his annual preview issue.
As the offensive line continues to take shape, it’s sharpening itself against a group of four defenders that all have the potential to be selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft.
“Every single day at practice, these guys are working against the best defensive line in college football,” Steele told BuckeyeSports.com. “I think Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa are the best group out there. Well, guess what? When (the OSU offensive linemen) take the field on Saturdays, they’re taking a step down in level of competition, which is a good thing.”
Defense was rocking today. D line flying around like the number 1 d line in the nation. No one is going to outwork the bullets— Mikail Benoit (@mike63bennett) August 12, 2014
Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner didn’t want to speculate on how the defensive line shaped up to others around the country. However, he did note that defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s bunch is perhaps the best he’s personally seen in his 20-year career as a Division I assistant coach.
“We either have to step up to the plate and compete at that level or else we’re going to look bad in practice,” Warinner said. “That’s going to be our challenge, and if we can do that then we’ll end up having a pretty good offensive line.”
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Billy Price spent last fall facing unrelenting pressure from fellow class of 2013 member Joey Bosa. According to Price, Bosa would repeatedly get him with the same move – one that he hasn’t had the chance to test out this fall.
“You’re going up against guys like Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa, guys who are going to be NFL guys, and that just helps us every day," Price said. "I can tell you that right now. Going against Joey all last year, it’s step up or step down. I always mess with him because he has this two-way go that used to freeze me up last year. He hasn’t had a shot to do it against me this year yet, but I’m sure that’ll happen soon at camp.”
When told that Steele had ranked the defensive line tops in the nation, junior left guard Taylor Decker didn’t hesitate in his agreement. He also mentioned that Bennett had recently raised an interesting point the other day about how the roles were revered last year, with a stalwart offensive line forcing the defensive line to load up an arsenal of moves in order to compete with the likes of draft picks like Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley.
“I was actually talking to Mike Bennett the other day, and he said last year the offensive line made the defensive line better and now it’s flipped,” Decker said. “So they’re making us a lot better because at every position, they’ve got a star. We’re going to have to continue to improve, and going against that every day is going to make us better players. Hopefully facing that level of competition prepares us for any situation and any player.”
If Ohio State is able to protect senior quarterback Braxton Miller from opposing rushers this year, the offensive linemen won’t have to walk far to thank the guys responsible for preparing them to face the very best.