Ohio's other starting cornerback, Jamil Shaw, is a fifth-year senior, as is one of the strong safeties, Xavier Hughes. Hughes has picked off passes in the Bobcats' first two games, at Louisville and at home against North Texas. Nickel back Nathan Carpenter, brother of former MU linebacker George, helped stymie the Herd with his long fumble return that set up the Bobcats' go-ahead field goal last year.
Weak-side linebacker Javon Johnson is the reigning defensive player of the week in the MAC's East Division. In his first collegiate start, he had two solo tackles, a fumble recovery and a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Johnson is just a sophomore, and the front seven is generally younger but not necessarily lacking in talent. Nose guard Antwan Crutcher, a 6-2, 300-pound load, has everyone's attention, but the Bobcats will comfortably roll two lines.
While the names and numbers change on the Ohio defense, MU offensive coordinator Bill Legg says many things remain the same.
"They're the same today as they were yesterday, as they will be tomorrow," Legg said. "There are no tricks, no tricks. They pride themselves on being a physical team, pride themselves in swarming to the football, they pride themselves in being sound fundamentally and executing their plan understanding the strengths and weaknesses of every call they make.
"They don't get misaligned, they don't get out of position. If you beat them, it's because you beat them. It's not because they beat themselves."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.