On Monday night, the Ohio State defense looked like it barely missed do-it-all defensive end Joey Bosa. Senior Adolphus Washington and first-time starters Tommy Schutt, Sam Hubbard, and Tyquan Lewis gave the Virginia Tech offensive line nightmares, eventually taking down QB Michael Brewer with enough force to cause him a serious injury. With an unproven Hawaii team coming to Columbus this weekend, the presence of Bosa is probably enough to cause Rainbow Warriors QB Max Wittek a few sleepless nights down the stretch. Let's take a look at how he'll wreak havoc on Saturday:
Weight: 275 lbs.
Stat Line: 55 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles (2014 season)
Bosa's got the physical tools to make NFL scouts salivate, and with good reason. He has a strong frame, can dip his shoulders low to rush off the edge, and closes on ball carriers with astonishing speed. Max Wittek, the USC transfer who starts at quarterback for Hawaii, was forced into 19-38 passing and two interceptions by Colorado's defense last week, so don't expect things to get easier for him against a fully-weaponized Ohio State defensive front.
The game situation
Bosa will have a lot of support as he lines up for the first time in 2015. Adolphus Washington was his steady self against Virginia Tech on Monday night, stopping up running lanes and putting pressure on the Hokies' quarterback tandem, while Tommy Schutt made his presence felt next to Washington, disrupting Virginia Tech's pass protection. The added power and speed of linebackers Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan made things miserable up front for VT, who have a much better offensive line than Hawaii.
There are quite a few reasons to expect that Bosa will have a huge impact in this game. Pick your angle: redemption for the mistakes that led to his suspension, wanting to live up to the hype that has him widely projected as the first overall pick in the coming NFL Draft, an urge to try to surpass his ridiculous 2014 sack total...the list goes on. He almost certainly would rather have been going after Virginia Tech's quarterbacks than staying at home taking care of Ezekiel Elliott's puppy Ace on Monday (though that's not a bad option either, tbh), and he'll have eight months' worth of pent up energy to get out of his system against Hawaii.
What to watch for
While it's Bosa and co. who will get the headlines, an intriguing other matchup to look for is CB Eli Apple against junior Rainbow Warriors WR Marcus Kemp. Kemp had a nice 79-yard TD reception in last week's game, finishing with 116 yards and a score. He'll be Wittek's go-to guy in the passing game on Saturday.
Still, Bosa can do his part to help Apple out -- not that he'll necessarily need it -- by delivering his trademark relentless pressure on the quarterback and disrupting Hawaii's offensive flow. Hawaii's offensive line is far from solid, and question marks still abound for Norm Chow's team up front, which is a problem for Wittek or Kemp.
Sam Hubbard probably did enough against Virginia Tech to earn himself some snaps moving forward, even with Bosa back, so look for him to spell Bosa or rotate in with Jalyn Holmes as this one gets out of hand. Hubbard showed that he'll be a great building block for the future against the Hokies, and having the chance to play with (or even behind) a world-class talent can't really hurt his development.
There's not much that peak Timmy Chang or Colt Brennan could have done against a guy like Joey Bosa, much less Wittek. It's much harder to see a quarter-long defensive collapse coming in this game like it did against Virginia Tech in the opener, and there's a pretty good chance we see Wittek's jersey dirtied a half-dozen times before all is said and done here. Joey Bosa is back, which is great news for Ohio State, and terrible news for everyone else.