Today, we dive into our positional breakdown of the Buckeyes as they soon begin their 2013 campaign on August 31, hosting Buffalo. Ohio State, of course, is coming off a perfect 12-0 season and carries the nation’s long active win streak into their season opener. Despite a perfect season, the Buckeyes were incredibly vulnerable at times last season and coach Urban Meyer had to make some adjustments this offseason. One main of area of focus is the secondary. The Buckeyes were 11th in pass defense in the Big Ten last season, but showed signs of promise. Ohio State had 14 interceptions (T-1st in the Big Ten) and set a team record with 73 pass deflections. The Buckeyes have been working on being more consistent in their coverage, while continuing to force turnovers.
The defense is anchored by senior safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant. The “killer B’s” are the only two Seniors on defense. Barnett is a fifth-year senior, starting 24 games for the Buckeyes while appearing in 32. Outside of star linebacker Ryan Shazier, Barnett is the team’s best tackler, ranking second with 131 total tackles and 83 solo tackles over the past two seasons. Barnett was an honorable mention for all-Big Ten honors last season after being named a member of the 2011 second team. Barnett has showcased his talent over the past 2 seasons and Ohio State will be counting on him to remain healthy. Barnett missed 3 games in 2012 and played only 2 games in his freshman season after a severe knee injury.
True senior Christian Bryant followed the footsteps of fellow Glenville High School Alums and current NFL safeties Donte Whitner and Jermale Hines into Ohio State’s secondary. Bryant has appeared in 31 games for the Buckeyes, starting 22 times. Bryant started each game last season, finishing second in tackles behind Shazier. His career total of 149 tackles also ranks second (once again behind Shazier). Bryant took Burnett’s spot on the 2012 All-Big Ten second-team. Bryant broke up 12 passes and intercepted one from the safety spot last year. That lone interception clinched the victory in a shootout with Cal.
There is a great deal of inexperience behind the “killer B’s.” The second team depth chart currently lists Chris Worley (4-star), Ron Tanner (Soph.) and highly touted recruit Vonn Bell as backups. Safety Jamie Wood, a key contributor on special teams with 20 tackles in 2010 and 2011 battled injury problems last year playing in only four games. Wood’s injury reportedly will end his career. Freshman Jayme Thompson is also hurt. Thompson will be out three weeks with a broken ankle. Vonn Bell will be a key contributor for the Buckeyes, as Urban Meyer was able to outgun Nick Saban and rope in the commit. Bell could possibly become the third “killer B”, as he has two of the most experienced safeties taking him under their wings.