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Position Breakdown: Defensive Line

Position Breakdown: Defensive Line

April 11, 2007

ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio football team held its ninth practice on Wednesday. The Bobcats have five more workouts before the annual Green & White game on Saturday, April 21 at 2 p.m.

One of the most experienced units on the field for the Bobcats in 2007 will be the defensive line. Three of the four starters return, including a pair of All-MAC players in senior Landon Cohen (Spartanburg, S.C.) and junior Jameson Hartke (Centerville, Ohio). Ohio's defensive line has become a play-making unit. The returning players accounted for 38.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in 2006.

Personnel Breakdown
Landon Cohen • Senior
Cohen was named second-team All-MAC in 2006 after racking up 14 tackles for loss. Cohen has started 25 straight games at defensive tackle, and has not missed a game in his three seasons. He has 27 tackles for loss for his career.

Alan Goff • Senior
Goff played in seven games as a reserve defensive end in 2006 after transfering from the junior college ranks. He made two tackles in his first season with the Bobcats. Goff moved to defensive tackle this spring.

Jameson Hartke • Junior
Hartke was a second-team All-MAC pick at defensive end in 2006 with a team-high 7.5 sacks and 13.0 tackles for loss. He was Ohio's Player of the Game in the MAC Championship Game after recording 4.0 tacles for a champiosnhip-game record loss of 30 yards. An honorable mention freshman All-America pick in 2005, Hartke has a team-best 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

Ernie Hodge • Sophomore
Hodge moved into the starting lineup at defensive end in the fourth game of the year and never came out. As a true freshman, he racked up 38 total tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. He was an honorable mention Sporting News Freshman All-America pick.

Eric Kenkel • Junior
Kenkel played in 12 games last season as a reserve defensive end. After missing the first two games with a broken hand, Kenkel recorded seven tackles. He has played in 19 games in his first two seasons.

Kris Luchsinger • Sophomore
Luchsinger played in 11 games as a true freshman at defensive end. He was primarily used as a pass-rushing defensive end on third down. The former U.S. National Rugby Team member made one tackle as a rookie.

Conor Reilly • Sophomore
After a redshirt season in 2005, Reilly was a regular in the defensive end rotation in 2006. In 12 games as a reserve, Reilly made five stops, including two tackles for loss.

Brett Sykes • Senior
2007 will be Sykes' first full season as a defensive tackle. The senior started the 2006 campaign at defensive end, but was moved inside mid-way through the season. He played in all 14 games, making seven tackles during his junior campaign. One of the most experienced players along the defensive front, Sykes has played in 36 games in his three seasons.

Jacob Williamson • Junior
Williamson has been used as a reserve defensive tackle in each of his first two seasons. He has played in 14 games since joining the Bobcats in 2005, recording five career tackles.

Others in the mix: Several players along the defensive front redshirted in 2006. Marcellis Williamson, a tackle, made the travel squad for each road game last season as a true freshman, but did not play. Pete Reese also used his first season in Athens learning the system. Evan Meckstroth, Dak Notestine, A.J. Oxley and Alex Trouten will also be trying to crack the rotation as redshirt freshmen. Junior Matt Ritter joined the team last season after transfering from Clarion University. Four new faces will join the defensive line in the fall. John Flowers, a local product from Lancaster, earned first-team all-county and first-team all-district accolades in 2006. Jeff King was an all-state, all-conference, all-league, all-city, and all-district pick as a senior at Cincinnati Wyoming High School. Curtis Meyers, brother of current Ohio linebacker Jordan Meyers, recorded 112 tackles, 14 for a loss, with six sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior defensive end at Harrison High School in Harrison, Ohio. Kadre Pinder, who played both offensive and defensive line at Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla., will also join the team in the fall.

Q&A with Defensive Line Coach Carl Pelini
What is the number one priority with the defensive line this spring?
"I think we need to continue to get more physical, which I think we are. We have three of four starters coming back. I think we were physical last year, but I have to develop depth. My younger guys are very athletic. They can run and do all that, but I need them to get more physical down there. That's my priority right now."

How do you strike the balance between the defensive linemen being playmakers, but also playing within the system and carrying out their assignment?
"To me there is no balance. My philosophy is that we want our linebackers to make plays. Once my guys bought into that, we got a lot better defensively. We want to control blockers, get our hands on people and prevent the offensive linemen from climbing to the second level. We want our linebackers running free. Philosophically, that's how I approach it, and I know not everyone does it that way, but my kids bought into that and we're getting good at it."

You talked about having linebackers make plays. Does having three new starting linebackers this season have any affect on how your group will operate?
"No, because Coach (Ross) Els did such a good job rotating guys last year that I think these guys are pretty experienced. Last year as we developed we leaned on the linebacking corps a little bit because they were so experienced. Hopefully, these guys can lean on our experience and our leadership a little bit this year.

There's been some personnel moves up front starting with moving Brett Sykes from end to tackle last year and switching Alan Goff inside this spring. What was the reasoning behind the switch and what advantage might that give the front four?
"I think now we can put four defensive lineman on the field that all run like defensive ends and can all play physical like an inside guy. That's an advantage that we have. I think moving Brett down inside, he's really responded well. Having been an end he uses his hands and his feet very well, and he's quick. It gives him an advantage inside. The same thing goes for Alan."

The annual Green & White game will be held on Saturday, April 21 at 2 p.m. Ohio Athletics and the Ohio Sports Administration program is teaming up to present the second annual Bobcat Blitz which featured a full day of events surrounding the spring game. For more information, log on to www.BobcatBlitz.com.

Ohio Athletics will also hold its biannual merchandise sale at Pepsi Tail-Great Park.

Information about 2007 Ohio football tickets, including the return of the Bobcat Family Pack, can be found by clicking here.

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