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Football: Mobile quarterback has little effect on Nick Bosa’s approach

Ohio State junior defensive end Nick Bosa (97) tackles Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski (8) as he throws the ball downfield in the first quarter of the game against Rutgers on Sept. 8. Ohio State won 52-3. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

With the expectation of living up to his brother’s collegiate legacy, junior Nick Bosa has made a name for himself at the end of the Ohio State defensive line.

After recording 15 tackles for loss in 2017, Bosa has not had many one-on-one looks this season, with opponents bringing two offensive linemen or one offensive lineman and one tight end to try and keep him from getting into the backfield.

Even with the double-teams and the amount of attention he has received by opposing offensive lines, Bosa still finds a way to get in the offensive backfield. Through two games, he has five tackles for loss, including three sacks, recording three tackles for loss in Saturday’s game against Rutgers.

“He’s playing at a high level, very high level,” defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “As an offensive coach, you’re going to know where he is all the time.”

Teams have shifted the focus of their offensive line on Bosa, keeping him contained at the line of scrimmage.

In Schiano’s opinion, that is a dangerous game to play.

“It is a trade-off in everything you do on offense, as well as on defense,” Schiano said. “If they choose to keep a double on Nick and a double on Chase [Young], then the single on Dre’Mont [Jones]. And they have to kind of pick which ones they want to double on.”

Opponents also have to create an offensive approach to try and beat the speed of Bosa and the rest of the defensive line. Schiano said the defensive line has to plan for how fast opposing quarterbacks are throwing the ball and creating a plan to attack the protection scheme in front of them.

Along with planning for the short-pass game and the pass protection schemes, TCU will likely bring another element to the defensive line that the Buckeyes have not seen this season: a mobile quarterback.

Through two games, sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson has beaten opposing defenses not only with his arm, but with his legs. He is the Horned Frogs’ leading rusher, averaging 11.2 yards per carry and 56 yards per game, scoring three touchdowns.

Schiano said the defensive line will have to completely change its approach.

“It changes all the math,” Schiano said. “When the quarterback carries the ball and can do it well, then you know, the defensive math changes and really, playing good defense is getting people to the point of attack and then making the tackle.”

Instead of focusing on bringing Robinson down for a loss, Schiano said Ohio State will have to take into consideration his ability to scramble, changing the approach from sacking the quarterback to just bringing him down without allowing significant yardage.

While Robinson runs, the TCU offensive line will likely continue to try and contain Bosa on the line, something Schiano said his teammates will have to help him through.

“We need to help him and he needs to be a little bit more aware; his teammates need to help him,” Schiano said. “When there’s someone motioning that’s in a position to crack him, we have to let him know because they are doing things special for sure.”

Schiano refused to say whether he thought Bosa was the best player in the country, not stating whether he believed Bosa should be considered for the Heisman Trophy.

But he did call him one of the most dominant players in college football, and the Ohio State defensive coordinator is glad he does not have to plan to play against him.

“I like him on our team,” Schiano said. “I know that.”

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