Bosa's Back For Ohio State

Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa missed one game but showed in his return last weekend that he's still an impact player for the Buckeyes.

When Ohio State opened its 2015 season on the road against Virginia Tech, junior defensive end Joey Bosa was at home, not wanting to eat, and dog-sitting for his friend.

That friend, junior running back Ezekiel Elliott, was running all over the Hokies defense, including an 80-yard touchdown run on his first rush attempt of the season.

“I had a stomachache pretty much the whole time watching the game,” Bosa said. “I cooked a nice dinner and didn’t eat one bite of it. It was rough. The puppy made it a little better.

“Obviously missing a week sucks, not because you’re missing it but because you know you’re not out there with your guys and you’re letting them down.”

Just five days later, Bosa was back on the football field making his presence felt in the Hawaii backfield.

While the stats might not reflect his disturbance of the Hawaii offense (two tackles), Bosa had a would-be sack called back by a defensive holding and said he was excited to get back out on the field.

“I was getting after (Hawaii QB Max Wittek) all day and he was just getting rid of the ball so quick that it was pretty frustrating,” he said after the 38-0 win over Hawaii. “I still got there, so at least I got one shrug out there.”

While he wasn’t participating against Virginia Tech and not getting all of the reps in practice, Bosa said he had to try to mentor the young ends such as Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard. Hubbard made an instant impact in his first game, recording a sack against the Hokies and a fumble recovery against Hawaii.

“When I found out the news of the suspension, which was months ago, I came to Sam and let him know what was happening, that I was going to miss the first game,” Bosa said. “Before we even started practicing, I really wanted to get their mind-set into fighting for that spot because with competition everyone improves. They’re both great young ends, and it’s nice to see them playing well.”

Now that Hubbard and Holmes have solidified themselves into the rotation, Bosa said the pressure is off of him to take on a heavy amount of in-game reps.

“It’s really nice to have a good rotation at end because I really haven’t had that since I’ve been there,” Bosa said. “I was out there playing 80 plays, and now it’s nice to have some good ends to come in there.

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. agreed.

"I think Joe is max probably 60 to 65 plays to play at his best," he said. "With Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard and Darius Slade, it gives us a chance to really rotate and keep those guys fresh with Tyquan Lewis. That's the way you've got to play the game. It gives Joey a chance to be fast all the time."

While Bosa’s reps might be down, sophomore linebacker Darron Lee, who recorded two sacks against the Rainbow Warriors, said there was an obvious change in the defense when Bosa was out on the field.

“All of our defensive linemen, their pass rush is great, but you notice when he’s out there,” Lee said. “He’s always making plays out there.”

With Bosa back and such players as Hubbard and Holmes developing each week, cornerback Gareon Conley, who recorded his first interception of his career against Hawaii, said getting ready for the Buckeye defense will be a tall task for opposing offenses.

"They are game planning for them because they are the best pass rushers in the country,” Conley said of the Buckeyes' front four. “Then, they have to game plan for our man-to-man coverage. I don't know what offenses do."

In two games, the Buckeye defense has forced six turnovers and recorded seven sacks as well as a shutout against the Rainbow Warriors.

For co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, having Bosa back is a luxury and a problem for the Buckeyes upcoming opponents.

“Whenever 97 is on the field the offense has got to worry about where he's at,” Ash said. “Just his presence alone on the field is a big deal for us.”

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