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Ohio State defense ready for fresh challenge against Virginia Tech

Sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) leads a group of OSU players in tackling Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds (19) during a game against the Midshipmen Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. OSU won, 34-17. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) leads a group of OSU players in tackling Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds (19) during a game against the Midshipmen Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. OSU won, 34-17.
Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Just days after playing Navy, the Ohio State defense is preparing to play a completely different style of football as it gears up for its first home game against Virginia Tech.

The Buckeyes, which faced the unusual triple-option offense of Navy last week, are now preparing for a more traditional attack run by the Hokies. 

Coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday that he and his coaches know making the switch from preparing for Navy to getting ready for Virginia Tech will not, and has not, been easy. 

“In our defense — coaches are actually saying that its hard enough to play Navy, and then all of sudden the week after, you wish had an easier team than this,” Meyer said. 

One of those coaches, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who is in his first year at OSU, said it’s nice to put Navy in the rearview mirror.

“It feels good to get that behind us,” Johnson said Monday. “Now (we) can go fast forward (against) a team that runs some things that we can adjust to and play a little faster.”

Sophomore safety Vonn Bell said the defense has to be prepared for everything the Hokies will throw at them.   

“It’s a lot of tricky stuff, a lot of tricky formations. We just have to stay disciplined, reading our keys and we are going to have success,” Bell said. “You never know what to expect. You just have to be alert.”

Meyer said Monday that he is particularly excited for his defensive line players, as they had to face relentless cut blocks from the Navy offensive line, something that has become uncommon in today’s college football landscape.

“I just think of our D-linemen. (Sophomore) Joey Bosa didn’t come to Ohio State to squeeze down blocks and keep people off his ankles,” Meyer said. “That’s what he had to do last week. He came to rush a quarterback and penetrate. So there’s big smiles across our defensive line right now to let them go play.”

Redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee added to Meyer’s comments and said his teammates are happy to be taking on a traditional offense.

“I am sure the D-line is happy they get to pass rush now as opposed to taking on double teams all the time,” Lee said Monday. “Our coaches are forcing us back into our basic defenses. We will be fine, it is just switching modes. It’s a bit of relief, just playing our normal game.”

Bosa agreed with Meyer and Lee on Wednesday and said that the defensive line has been waiting to show what it can do. 

“It was not a fun game last week,” Bosa said. “(I’m) still feeling sore from it. This week we will get to rush the passer a little bit, which we obviously love to do.”

Bosa also said that because of the switch to Virginia Tech, the defensive line has to get used to doing things the way they were done before playing Navy. 

“We did nothing we have ever done before last week and now we are getting back to what were our basics and everything we usually run and it almost seems foreign after doing it for so long,” he said.

The game against Virginia Tech is expected to take place in front of a record crowd Saturday, as the university added 2,600 seats to Ohio Stadium during the offseason. 

Bosa said he is ecstatic to be playing in front of the home fans once again.

“Nothing is like playing in front of 110,000 people,” Bosa said. “I am just excited to get back in there.”

While OSU athletics isn’t quite expecting 110,000 — they’re anticipating about 108,000 fans, which includes non-ticketed attendees, according to a university release — Meyer added to Bosa’s excitement. 

“I call it ‘night games Buckeye style,’” Meyer said. “That stadium is awesome. We have had some great games there in the last two years at night.”

Meyer also said he believes Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James might be in attendance on the sidelines for the game. 

The Buckeyes and Hokies are scheduled to kickoff at 8 p.m. on Saturday. 

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