Ohio State Football: Adolphus Washington Could Make Biggest Impact On Defense for the Buckeyes

Who Could Make Biggest Impact On Defense for Ohio State?

6/10/14 in NCAAF   |   rlnichols11   |   22 respect

The easy, boring college-football-writer's-answer to the question, "who can make the biggest impact on defense for Ohio State?" is obviously defensive lineman Joey Bosa. Blog Photo - Ohio State Football: Adolphus Washington Could Make Biggest Impact On Defense for the Buckeyes

I'm not a fan of easy or boring, so I'm taking a different angle on this topic.

Maybe I'm slightly biased because he went to high school 15 minutes down the street from where I did, but I really think Bosa's counterpart in junior Adolphus Washington could be the key to the Buckeyes improving their defense's poor performance from a season ago.

Coming out of Taft High School in Cincinnati, Washington was a highly touted five-star defensive end. He was one of the gems of Urban Meyer's first recruiting class, and came into Columbus with the expectation that he would be able to make a big impact immediately.
Unfortunately, his first two seasons as a Silver Bullet have been a disappointment. He's been constantly riddled with injuries, and when he has been healthy enough to see the field, he hasn't played well enough to stay out on the field consistently. 

His underwhelming play at the start of last season is what opened the door for Bosa to step in. Although he played intermittently at end and tackle for others to catch a breather, Bosa and Noah Spence locked down the defensive end spots, keeping Washington on the sideline more often than not in 2013.

It appears as though that will change this coming fall.

After some shuffling along the defensive line, including moving Joel Hale to the offensive side of the ball, Washington will head into training camp as a full-time starter at defensive tackle alongside Michael Bennett.

New co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach Chris Ash has completely revamped the mentality and the strategy of the Buckeyes' secondary. After several porous performances by the secondary ultimately cost Ohio State a shot at a national title last season, Ash is determined to implement a hard-nosed, in-your-face press coverage scheme.

With that in mind, the front line getting pressure on the opposing quarterback becomes that much more vital. The purpose of press man coverage is to jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage and to throw off the timing of the offense's play, either to force an errant pass by the quarterback or a sack due to the receivers not being able to get into their routes in time.

However, the potential downside to this is that cornerbacks are not able to maintain effective coverage on opposing receivers for more than just a few seconds. If the defensive line can't provide pressure and force the quarterback's hand, ultimately receivers can shake loose and get open.

That's where Washington comes in. Although the defensive line is loaded with three other potential early-round NFL picks in Bosa, Spence, and Bennett, I believe Washington is the X-Factor.

The talent that the other three possess makes this a very good defensive line. If Washington -- at his new permanent position at defensive tackle -- can stay healthy and finally fulfill what lofty expectations he came to Columbus with, the Buckeyes might very well have the best front line in the country.

With the implementation of more press coverage, a strong defensive line becomes more important than ever. Strong play from Washington is what puts this unit over the top. If he performs well, so does the rest of the Buckeye defense, and they will have a real shot to make it all the way to Arlington for the National Championship Game.

Luke Nichols is a Big Ten contributor for FanIQ with keen knowledge for Ohio State football. Follow him on Twitter: @rlnichols11

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