Ohio State loses 7 solid starters on defense in addition to central corps of team leaders

Whenever coach Urban Meyer discusses his leaders from last year's surprising 12-0 season, he invariably points to members of the defense.

Linemen John Simon, Nathan Williams, Garrett Goebel and Johnathan Hankins, linebackers Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino and cornerback Travis Howard did much of the work to transform a 6-7 team into only the sixth unbeaten and untied squad in Ohio State's 123 years playing the sport.

Now all of those players who showed the way to their younger teammates are gone.

The Buckeyes have a lot of talent returning despite losing those seven starters. But it's filling in the gap of experience and expertise that may be the hardest task before the games start counting this fall.