Linebackers. They’re a group of players caught between the line of scrimmage and secondary who sometimes get overlooked. They can be pivotal to a team’s defensive success and sometimes set the tone for a defensive unit as a whole. Here’s a quick take on the linebackers from the Ohio State Buckeyes and Clemson Tigers along with who has the edge of the two groups as a unit.
It’s difficult to make an in-depth assessment of each linebacking corps. The attempt will be made to evaluate the two groups by breaking it down into smaller categories than reevaluating everything at the end. Here we go:
Raekwon McMillan- The junior middle linebacker for the Buckeyes led his team in tackles for the second straight season. McMillan is a ball hawk who can be found all over the field and was named to the AP All-America Second Team.
Ben Boulware- The most intimidating linebacker you’ll find on the field this New Year’s Eve. He was the leading tackler for the Clemson Tigers and named to the AP All-America Third Team.
Linebackers have plenty of responsibilities, however, having a nose for the ball is essential. Here’s the starting linebackers for each team ordered from most to least tackles per game.
Ben Boulware (Starting weakside linebacker for the Tigers)– 8.75 tackles per game.
Raekwon McMillan (Starting middle linebacker for the Buckeyes)– 7.25 TPG.
Kendall Joseph (Starting middle linebacker for the Tigers)– 7.23 TPG.
Jerome Baker (Starting weakside linebacker for the Buckeyes)– 6.58 TPG
Chris Worley (Starting strongside linebacker for the Buckeyes)– 4.92 TPG
Dorian O’Daniel (Starting stronside linebacker for the Tigers)– 3.69 TPG
If you add up the totals, Clemson’s group has an ever-so-slight edge with 19.67 tackles per game compared to 18.75 for Ohio State.
Tackles For Loss
Raekwon McMillan forcing Michigan’s quarterback Wilton Speight into throwing a pick six isn’t a play that shows up on the stat sheet. However, for the ones that do, tackles for a loss can be a telling statistic.
Jerome Baker is the only linebacker on either team with multiple interceptions. Not only that, but both of his interceptions were timely, against top-10 competition (according to current polls) and converted into seven points one way or another.
Clemson’s defense gives up more points per game and yards per passing and rushing attempt. The teams are both close statistically in all categories, but the Buckeyes still have an edge in all three areas which is noteworthy as a whole.
It’s clear that Ben Boulware and Raekwon McMillan are the leaders of the two groups with their experience as well as performance on the field.
Therefore, the edge goes to…
The Ohio State Buckeyes