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Nick Bosa’s expanded role means more plays and more production on the Ohio State D-line

With three top-linemen departing for the NFL, Bosa will play an expanded role on the line.

Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

“This year is going to be full out, play every snap that means anything for my last year.”

-Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, via Austin Ward, Land of 10

Junior defensive end Nick Bosa was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year last season despite playing far fewer snaps than might be expected from a star player. That’s because Bosa played on a line with three other standout defensive ends, so he was able to be an impact player for every snap he was on the field while still having time to rest and be fresh for the remainder of each game. Now, however, those three other defensive ends are departing for the NFL, leaving Bosa to lead the pack in what is likely his final collegiate season.

Bosa will be at the helm of a young group which includes Chase Young, who came to Columbus as a consensus five-star prospect last season. Jonathon Cooper and Jashon Cornell also look to get in the mix at the end spot, giving defensive line coach Larry Johnson a similar embarrassment of riches to what he has experienced in recent seasons. And while Bosa will be the de facto lynchpin of the group, Johnson has made clear that even his star defensive end will not--or at least should not--be on the field for every play this season.

Bosa averaged about 42 plays per game in 2017, according to Johnson, which is roughly the same as the departed Tyquan Lewis had. Johnson has said that Bosa will probably see the field for closer to 60-65 plays per game moving forward into the 2018 season. Bosa finished last year with 8.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. Even as opposing lines adjust, expect his productivity to increase through his expanded role. And despite the increased workload on Bosa, the defensive line as a whole has the advantage of remaining fresh against an opposing offensive line which cannot sub in or out as easily on a given play.

“Warinner is best known for his time as Ohio State’s co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach from 2012-16, a run that included a national championship and some of the top offensive lines in America.”

-Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press

In Jim Harbaugh’s latest offseason coaching move, the Michigan head coach brought in former Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner to lead the offensive line. Warinner had initially been hired by Harbaugh as an analyst back in January, but his role expanded with the departure of Tim Drevno, who left for USC. The coaching drama at Michigan has been strong this offseason. Drevno previously served under Harbaugh for three seasons as offensive coordinator and line coach. Earlier this year, Harbaugh brought in former Florida head coach Jim McElwain to coach a wide receiver corps which struggled last season. This hire has been considered the cause of Drevno’s departure, and led to Warinner’s expanded role. Harbaugh has also hired a new tight ends coach (Sherrone Moore), defensive assistant (Al Washington) and strength and conditioning coach (Ben Herbert). These changes are largely the result of Michigan’s poor finish last season, losing its last three games and finishing as the only Big Ten team to lose its bowl game. The Wolverines ended the season at 8-5--Harbaugh’s worst record in three years as head coach.

Michigan’s struggles centered on the offensive side of the ball last season. Even with a stout defense which allowed just 18.8 points per game, the offense couldn’t seem to get anything going. The Wolverines finished last season ranked 105th in the NCAA in total offense with just 348.9 yards per game, leading to a major shakeup this offseason.

Warinner spent last season as offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Minnesota. In five seasons on Urban Meyer’s staff, Warriner’s lines helped the Buckeyes to finish in the top-15 nationally in rushing yards each year. After the 2014 national championship, Warinner became Meyer’s primary play caller with Tom Herman departing for Houston. Unfortunately, the offense seemed to take a step back in the two seasons with Warinner at the helm, leading to his departure prior to the 2017 season.

“Even when Urban Meyer loses his franchise quarterback and star defenders aplenty, the Buckeyes still enjoy a great offseason.”

-Mitch Sherman, ESPN

Per the usual, Urban Meyer’s squad has has one of the most exciting (in a good way) offseasons in college football since the conclusion of bowl season. While the Buckeyes are losing a lot of talent to the NFL, new coaches and new recruits are ready to step up to keep the train rolling along.

Perhaps the most intriguing move since bowl season was the hire of former Washington State defensive coordinator and secondary coach Alex Grinch as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach alongside Greg Schiano. Grinch, who spend three seasons with the Cougars, improved a struggling defense, ranked 84th in the NCAA on his arrival, to 16th in the country by the time he left.

Schiano himself had a busy offseason, initially being courted as a potential replacement for Butch Jones as head coach at Tennessee and for a spot on Bill Belichick’s staff in New England. With all of this interest in their main man on defense, the Buckeyes more than doubled Schaino’s salary to $1.5 million per year, making him one of the highest paid assistants in college football. Naturally, Schiano opted to stay in Columbus.

Topping things off was yet another outstanding recruiting class from Meyer and company, ranked second in the nation behind Georgia. Meyer pulled in three five-star recruits in the 2018 class, including safety Tyreke Johnson, who has already enrolled, and defensive tackle Taron Vincent. One particularly sweet spot is tackle Nick Petit-Frere from Tampa. Considered the top offensive lineman in the country, Petit-Frere had been heavily pursued by Michigan, but ultimately chose to come to Columbus (Michigan wound up with the 19th-ranked recruiting class nationally, and third in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Penn State). He attended Ohio State’s comeback win in Ann Arbor, which may have contributed to his decision...