COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Wednesday afternoon several members of the Ohio State coaching staff met with the local media to give an update on how each of their position units looked at the conclusion of spring football. It was a chance to ask a few questions before the long break between now and the start of summer conditioning.
One position that appears to be on solid footing is the defensive line under Larry Johnson. The Buckeyes return essentially everyone in the unit and have several young guys who will be making a push for playing time as well. That is a good thing because under Johnson, the Buckeyes looks to rotate players in and out of the lineup and keep fresh linemen in the game for the entire 60 minutes.
"I think that there will be the depth to rotate, that is one thing that we will be able to do," Johnson said. "It is just a matter of a combination of when we are going to use them and how we are going to use them. Just moving through to fall camp, we will make that decision. From the spring game, it just shows that we have the depth, now just how we are going to use it."
There will be household names that will be in the lineup including familiar names from the end position of Nick Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard. The interior line may need to find a few players to step up as well but there is little doubt that the Buckeyes will have the players ready to go at the end of August when the season opens in Bloomington (Ind.).
Just how deep could this line go however in terms of rotation?
"We might end up going to 10 guys playing, it depends on the situation that we are in," Johnson said. "We could see 10 guys playing."
It almost seems like an impossible question to ask but is there such a thing as having too much talent in a position group?
"You never can have too much. It is a long season, in the Big Ten conference, anything can happen," Johnson added. "The minute you go, when you have a lot of guys, all of a sudden knock on wood, we get a guy hurt, get a ding, then it starts changing really fast. So, you have got to be ready. I am always aware, that you have to be ready for the next guy to go."
Larry Johnson has seen some talented lines in his 20-plus years of coaching in the college game at Ohio State and Penn State before that. Has he ever had so much talent on one roster before?
"Not in a while, this is kind of different," Johnson said.
What makes this group different than others before it?
"Interchangeable guys, guys can do different things," Johnson said. "I can take a defensive end and put him at three-technique, rush the passer. Put a guy at noseguard. I think that is what makes them really special, they can all move up and down the line of scrimmage. When you can do that, you can get the right matchups that you want."
With all of this talent however, don't look for the Buckeyes to forget who their best players are when the chips are on the table. There is a balance that needs to be maintained between keeping guys fresh and keeping the best players on the field.
"I think at the end of the day, I tell guys all the time that at the end of the game that our best players have got to be on the field," Johnson said. "We are always going to take that philosophy, that no matter where we are on the field substitution-wise that if a game is close that our best guys are ready to go and make the plays and be on the field."