With the dominant force of Joey Bosa now departed for the NFL, the duties of putting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run from the edge now lie on the shoulders of Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis.
Hubbard, a redshirt sophomore from Cincinnati, and Lewis, a junior from Tarboro, North Carolina, combined for 14.5 sacks last season. With extra attention given to Bosa, both Buckeyes benefitted from one-on-one scenarios, giving them ample opportunities to hunt down the opposing quarterback.
But now, all eyes will be on Hubbard and Lewis as they try to reproduce their 2015 production with the absence of the third overall pick in the NFL draft from this year. With a season-ending injury sustained by Darius Slade announced at OSU’s media day on Sunday, depth at defensive end for the Scarlet and Gray is uncertain.
Regardless of the expectations placed on the duo, neither player is backing down from the task at hand.
“We don’t feel any pressure,” Hubbard said. “Preparations (have) been year-round, and we are ready to meet any challenge we experience this year and put in a lot of work.”
Hubbard said he learned a multitude of skills in his past two years from the players before him, namely Bosa. After arriving in Columbus as a lacrosse player, he become a safety, then a tight end, before finally winding up as a defensive end. He said the whole experience has been humbling and has taught him how to remained focused on the task at hand.
With such major transitions for Hubbard in his playing career, the work never stops for the 6-foot-5 end. This year, he said he has been working tirelessly to ensure his production does not fall off.
“I’ve worked on every aspect of my game this whole offseason,” Hubbard said. “From the weight room with coach Mick (Marotti) getting stronger to becoming a more efficient pass rusher with coach (Larry) Johnson, I’ve done everything in my power to improve my game, and I’m only getting started.”
Lewis started at end last season for the Buckeyes, ending the year with 54 total tackles and eight sacks. The former four-star recruit solidified his spot as a starter and leader of the Silver Bullets.
The equation to success for Lewis this year is far from complex in his eyes. He said he feels being the same player as last year will do wonders for his production.
“I just try to be a great leader and set an example for the young guys,” Lewis said. “I just want to play hard and be a great leader.”
The Buckeyes start their season on Sept. 3 against Bowling Green at Ohio Stadium. Kick off is scheduled for noon.