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</td><td class="v1">Posted on Thu, Aug. 26, 2004</td></tr><tr><td colspan="2"> <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="5" align="right"> <tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="250"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"> <tbody><tr><td align="left" class="adlabel"> <script language="JavaScript1.1"> _krdDartInc++; document.write('<SCRIPT LANGUAGE=\"JavaScript1.1\" SRC="http://ad.doubleclick.net/adj/bradenton.sports/sports;kw=center6;c2=sports_homepage:wink2:os=center6;group=rectangle;tile='+_krdDartInc+';ord='+_krdDartOrd+'?"><\/SCRIPT>'); </script><script language=\"JavaScript1.1\" src="http://ad.doubleclick.net/adj/bradenton.sports/sports;kw=center6;c2=sports_homepage:wink2:os=center6;group=rectangle;tile=2;ord=1093552167478?"></script>
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Buckeyes will have to replace loss of three star linemen


[size=-1]RUSTY MILLER[/size]

[size=-1]Associated Press[/size]

<!-- begin body-content --> COLUMBUS, Ohio - There's nothing you can say to Ohio State's defensive linemen that they haven't already heard over the summer.

"No one's expecting us to do anything," said David Patterson, one of the maligned holdovers on the Buckeyes' front wall on defense. "People look and see we lost three guys and say, 'Who are these young guys coming in?' We don't really have the high expectations, and we don't have all that extra pressure."

The idle talk is understandable, however, as the clock ticks down toward the Buckeyes' opener Sept. 4 against Cincinnati.

Will Smith, Tim Anderson and Darrion Scott were three of the most decorated defensive linemen ever at Ohio State. Smith was taken in the first round of the NFL draft by New Orleans, with Anderson going in the third round to Buffalo and Scott in the third round to Minnesota.

All those three did last year was total 39.5 tackles for negative yardage, including almost half of Ohio State's 37 sacks with 18. They were one massive reason why the Buckeyes won the national title two years ago and have a 25-2 record the last two seasons.

So it's no surprise that the Buckeyes' followers are a little nervous about who'll be filling those gaping holes in the depth chart.

No one else on the team is nervous, though.

"The defensive line is really good," linebacker Mike D'Andrea said, leaning forward conspiratorially and lowering his voice. "It's a lot better than people think."

It starts with the one full-time returnee from a year ago, left end Simon Fraser. The starting combination has not been decided at the tackle spots, but Marcus Green, David Patterson, Quinn Pitcock and Joel Penton are the leading candidates. At the other end spot, Mike Kudla will likely get the nod over Marcel Frost.

Rest assured, they say, the defensive line is in good hands.

"This group going to try be a little bit more relentless than (last year's) group," Green said. "We're going to roll guys through, you know, always have a fresh body in there. We're just going to try to be better than the last group."

The senior citizen is Fraser, who did not have a huge junior season (7 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks). But he remains the spokesman for the first line of defense.

"We probably have a lot more rotation going on," said Fraser, 6-foot-6 and 280 lbs. with a mop of curly, red hair. "There's a lot of young talent there, but we just have to keep maturing and growing each day. ... These guys have been around Darrion and Will and those guys for the past two years so they've got a chance to understand what it takes to be a top competitor in the Big Ten."

The youngsters sure don't lack for confidence.

"I wouldn't say we're better athletes. I think we just have more depth," said Green, a 6-3, 290-pound junior. "This group going to try be a little bit more relentless than the last group."

That's setting the bar pretty high. It was the defensive front that set the tone for last year's 11-2 record and No. 4 ranking in the final poll. Teams might hold off Smith and Anderson on one play but Scott would knock the quarterback silly. On the next snap, Anderson and Scott might get blocked while Smith would get to pile-drive a running back into the turf.

Their replacements are a happy bunch, content with finally getting to play and excited about showing people what they've got. They also hint that they have a dark side.

"Off the field we're kind of laid back," Green said. "On the field I guess when the switch turns on, we can get a little nasty."

Nothing makes them nastier than hearing how much the Buckeyes have lost up front.

They particularly bristle when told that Ohio State's linebackers - among the best in the country - may just have to carry the load for the linemen until they gain some experience.

"We do have a great linebacker corps, but I don't think there will be any dropoff from last year," Patterson said. "Those were some great players. They had three guys get drafted. But if we play hard, we might not have the experience that those guys had but I think we're going to make up for it with great attitude and effort."

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The beat goes on!

I dont see why people are thinking these set of lineman wont match up with last years. If any of them would of paid close attention to the games last year alot of these new starters were in the games at critical points as backups due to the rotation used. So my belief is that these guys wont miss a beat, but then again my glass is always half full.
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