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Buckeye Football Notebook: 'We'll be as good as anybody in America at defensive end'
By Tony Gerdeman

Ohio State returns all of their defensive ends from last season, including the four who rotated all year long. Any time a team can return their two starters, they are going to have a leg up on production. And if a team can return four of their two starters, then all the better. Now add in everybody who played defensive tackle a year ago as well, and you've really got something to talk about.

"I think that as of right now it’s the strength of our team on defense," Urban Meyer said of the defensive line. "It’s faster, they’re really good players. Dre'Mont Jones is really turning into a fine player here for us. On the other side, we’re really hoping that Tracy Sprinkle can give us some depth and be the guy we thought he could be before he got hurt. Defensive end, we’ll be as good as anybody in America at defensive end."

Despite all of that talent on the line, however, the Buckeyes didn't sack the quarterback as much as they would have liked a year ago. Sure, they got pressure, but it didn't result in a negative play for the opposition as often as it should have.

The shortcomings of a season ago remain a constant refrain, and the focus this spring has been on rushing the passer more effectively than ever before.

"Coach (Larry) Johnson emphasizes that a lot, getting to the quarterback, getting to the quarterback, getting to the quarterback," Dre'Mont Jones said. "From the jump, we do drills about getting off on the ball. Then to hand work. From period one to period 19 we’re working on pass rushing mainly. That’s our main goal, more sacks, more pressures. We’ve got the run stuff pretty much figured out but you’ve got to work on pass rushing."

Being on the interior of the defensive line has given Dre'Mont Jones a solid vantage point to see how the Ohio State offensive line is coming together. While there may only be one position battle ongoing, this is still an offensive line going through growth and change.

"Matt Burrell is coming up a little bit," Jones said. "I see him rising. "Michael Jordan is continuing to get better. Isaiah (Prince) has improved a lot, especially from you all talking about him a lot. Jamarco (Jones) is still improving and Billy (Price) is the leader. I miss Billy at guard honestly. I miss our little battles, but he moved inside on me so I had to say good-bye to that."

What is it that has stood out about Burrell?

"His mindset has changed," Jones said. "Me and Matt are really close. He just had to mature. He’s seeing things differently and acting differently, but positively. I’m proud of him."

In order to compete with defensive lines like Ohio State's, an offense is always looking for an advantage. One such advantage is tempo, and the Buckeye offensive line is all in favor of a faster pace.

"Our defensive line they rotate every two to three plays just because of how fast we’re going," Price said. "It puts us in better shape offensive line-wise. You’ve seen a lot of guys trim up and look good as well because of the tempo of the offense. I appreciate it because it makes our job easier. Defenses aren’t going to be able to set and get reset and to see what the offense is presenting. It’s ‘down, set, red, snap ball, go.' Defenses are unable to adjust to those types of things. Most of the time we’ll get an advantage in our leverage and we’ll take advantage of that."

Player profiles relevant to story:
54 - Price, Billy | 86 - Jones, Dre'Mont | Coach - Meyer, Urban
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