Staten on Bosa: “We’ll know where he’s at”

Michigan State preparing for a tough Ohio State defensive line, led by sophomore Joey Bosa

The last time Michigan State played a night game at home, one the nation's premier defensive ends in Nebraska's Randy Gregory.

On Saturday, the Spartans will see another in Ohio State's Joey Bosa. The sophomore standout leads the conference with 10 sacks - with sacks in five straight games and 6.5 in the past three games.

”He is an outstanding football player, great, tough, active, great hands, powerful, relentless, great football player,” said coach Mark Dantonio.

Bosa's 10 sacks place him sixth in the nation - and leave him just 1.5 short of the total of Gregory and Michigan State standout Shilique Calhoun, who have a combined 11.5.

”You can talk about him in the same light as Gregory, another terrific player,” offensive line coach Mark Staten said. “Same light as Shilique Calhoun, terrific player. (Marcus) Rush, another terrific player.

”They each bring their strengths and also have their weaknesses, so you try to diminish their strengths as you're playing against them and magnify their weaknesses.”

The Spartans got their first look at Bosa last season in the Big Ten title game, where he the Buckeyes' lone sack as one of his two tackles for loss. He also had three quarterback hurries.

”We've got to contain him,” Staten said. “You saw it last year when we played him that hey, this is an up-and-coming young person who's got a lot of explosiveness and is a terrific pass rusher.”

The Spartans have done a good job protecting quarterback Connor Cook thus far this season, allowing just five total sacks, which came in just three games. Bosa will bring a challenge once again and it is one that has sophomore offensive tackle Jack Conklin excited.

”Obviously he's a great player,” Conklin said. “(You) see him this season and last season, he bounces around a lot so the whole line is going to have to be ready to play against him.

”I'm excited to play such a great player.”

Part of what has made Bosa tough to block - and why he has a tackle for loss in 14 straight games - is that the Buckeyes line him up across the defensive line.

Staten said there seems to be little pattern to the way the Buckeyes and new defensive coordinator Chris Ash line up Bosa to attack an offensive line. To combat the variety of uses, Staten simply said “every guy has gotta do his job.”

”We're not gonna re-invent the offense to contain one person, we've never done that with our offense,” he said. “We'll know where he's at and try to figure out throughout the game why he's at where he's at and what they're trying to do with him and then counter that with what we're trying to do.”

Adding to the challenge for the Michigan State offensive line is that Bosa is surrounded by a trio of talented players in defensive end Steve Miller and defensive tackles Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington.

Staten said Miller and Washington are guys that are “journeymen” and are players that will be in the right place. As for Bennett, he said the senior is a player that “has the ability to be explosive.”

”We are going to have our hands full,” he said. “They are a very good defensive line.”

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