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Ohio State Breakdown: Defensive Line, Linebackers

Let's conclude with the rest of the defense, which Ohio State handled just fine. For all the praise we've heaped upon the front seven of this unit, they sure were ineffective against tOSU. Let's hit both:

Defensive Line What in the high hell happened? Many of us here at BON scoffed at one Buckeye previewer's description of Frank Okam as "your typical 300 pound nose tackle." For as good as he looked at the end of last season and in the Rose Bowl, he was a non-factor on Saturday night. Completely and totally neutralized. He never penetrated the line to disrupt a play, and got nowhere near Troy Smith.

The inside tackles, Miller and Lokey, were equally ineffective. Neither penetrated the line, nor commanded double teams. When your inside tackles aren't getting into the backfield, or  taking on two blockers, you've got problems.

Perhaps most surprising of all was the absence of playmaking from either Tim Crowder or Brian Robison, two ends who have become frightening lethal at making plays. Not Saturday. The Buckeye offensive line deserves a ton of credit for keeping this normally stellar unit completely under check. Only Brian Orapko came anywhere close to making a play on Smith, and Smith made Texas pay for the time and space he enjoyed, as we all saw.

It's hard to tell whether the whole unit had an off day, or whether the Buckeye line was just that good. It was probably some combination of both, but most of the credit goes to Ohio State. If Smith gets that kind of time all year, I've seen enough to say with confidence that they'll be playing in the BCS title game. You simply have to pressure him back there; Texas' inability to do so was fatal. Grade: B-

Linebackers Without any defensive line penetration, and without anyone eating up more than one blocker, the linebackers were lost in trying to stop Troy Smith. When the linebackers blitzed, they were picked up. When they tried to pass contain... well, it was ugly. One player not on the field who might have made a significant difference was Drew Kelson. His speed, athleticism, and coverage skills were sorely missed on Saturday night. It was another tough absence in a disappointing loss.

Muckelroy and Killebrew, for their parts, were routinely out of position. Bobino was solid enough, but the unit as a whole failed to get the job done. Let's just get this over with. The unit gets a Grade: C+.
It's time to just move on. It wasn't our night. A great team came to Austin and gave us a good licking. We'll recover. As is obvious from the grading, there's plenty of blame to go around - from Colt, to Greg, to Pittman, to Gene Freaking Chizik... Texas just wasn't up for the big time challenge that came to town.

Congrats to Ohio State for their terrific play, and as Longhorn fans, let's start looking forward to what's ahead. As frightening as Saturday night's loss was, there's a lot to build on. Ohio State mourning ends now. Officially.

--PB--