Countdown to Kickoff: 36 Days

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36.  The Buckeyes’ secondary lost three starters to the NFL Draft during the off-season.  Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore, all first-round draft picks, combined for a total of 36 passes defensed (15 interceptions, 21 pass break ups) in 2016.  Ohio State has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to reload in the secondary after losing top-tier players to the NFL, but losing three guys of that caliber in one year will be tough to recover from.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that after losing that type of production, the Buckeyes pass defense may take a step back in 2017.  As the only returning starter, senior Damon Webb will have to step and be the leader on that unit.  Look for Denzel Ward, Damon Arnette, Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller to fill the holes left by Hooker, Conley and Lattimore in 2017.  While none of them have any starting experience, they all have seen significant game time in past seasons which should bode well for the Buckeyes.  Ohio State has succeeded with the “next man up” mentality in previous years.  Let’s see if that trend continues in 2017.

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