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Thursday, September 15, 2011
OSU sends young D-line against Canes

By Adam Rittenberg

The future seems fairly uncertain for Luke Fickell and the Ohio State Buckeyes these days, but they'll get a glimpse of it Saturday night against Miami.

Fickell will send a very young defensive line against Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes. Ohio State already was fairly green along the defensive front, but Wednesday's announcement that senior end Nathan Williams underwent arthroscopic knee surgery thrusts another young player into the spotlight.

Redshirt freshman J.T. Moore will start at defensive end in place of Williams, who will miss his second consecutive game and possibly more time after the clean-up procedure. Freshman Steve Miller will back up Moore.

Sophomore Johnathan Hankins is expected to start at right defensive tackle, and he'll be backed up by freshman Michael Bennett.

Ohio State's defensive line two-deep includes only one senior, backup nose tackle Evan Blankenship.

Ohio State will lean on junior linemen John Simon and Garrett Goebel, who have combined for 11 tackles, two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups in the first two games. Hankins and Moore both have shown flashes early on, but they'll need strong performances against Miami.

It's hard to know what to expect from Ohio State's offense in its first road game, although the return of running back Jordan Hall, who will start, should provide a boost.

The biggest key for the Buckeyes is rattling Harris, who threw four interceptions last year against Ohio State and has 39 interceptions in his career.

To do so, Ohio State needs its young defensive linemen to grow up fast.