Even subtracting Shazier, No. 5 Ohio State thinks it's much improved at linebacker position

The linebackers took a lot of the blame last year when Ohio State lost its final two games.

Now they're trying to be the focus of a rejuvenated defense.

Despite losing leading tackler Ryan Shazier, who went in the first round of the NFL draft to Pittsburgh, everyone is optimistic about the position.

With returning starters Joshua Perry and Curtis Grant being joined by upstarts such as Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan, the Buckeyes have reloaded heading into Saturday's season opener against Navy.

Coach Urban Meyer raves about the improvement he's seen in Perry and Grant. Plus, a new defensive mindset has also brought on a fresh assessment of the position.

Now, the 'backers may be the defense's backbone.