For most of the year, the Ohio State football team had an elite defense. They finished the regular season with the second-best scoring defense in the country, the third-best defense in terms of total yards, and the best passing defense in the country.
Obviously, they couldn’t quite make stops on Saturday when they were needed the most. Jim Knowles’ unit still improved on a pretty good defensive season a year ago. Now, three Ohio State football players are being recognized with First Team All-Big Ten honors.
J.T. Tuimoloau is one of them. JTT had 34 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 passes defended, and a fumble recovery his season. Those stats aren’t huge, but his pressure rate is really what got him this honor. It seemed like he was pushing tackles into the backfield almost every passing play.
Tommy Eichenberg was also honored. Not only was he First Team All-Big Ten, but he won the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year Award. He finished the season as the leading tackler for the Buckeyes, recording 80 of them. He also had a sack and a forced fumble. Eichenberg was hurt down the stretch and that limited his effectiveness, but he still had a great season.
Denzel Burke was the other nominee. Burke missed some games due to injury as well but was a lockdown guy at corner when he was out there. He had 19 tackles and 8 balls batted down to go along with an interception and a fumble. Teams were afraid to throw his way most of the season.
It’s nice to see a Buckeye at every level of the defense get recognized. We all just wish the defense could have made one more stop in The Game on Saturday. That would have given them the win and the opportunity to play for a national championship.
Instead, the Buckeyes will likely be sitting at home when the CFP starts. It’s a shame because this defense was truly elite all year.