“Nick Bosa, Ohio State’s Returning All-American and Big Ten Conference defensive lineman of the year, has been named the Bednarik player of the week for his dominant performance in Ohio State’s 77-31 victory over Oregon State on Saturday.”
Following his two-sack, two-fumble recovery performance on Saturday, which also saw him record his first collegiate touchdown, there has been talk around Buckeye Nation that Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa should be an unlikely Heisman Trophy candidate.
Despite that fervor, the most recently released odds actually saw the defender’s chance at winning the most important individual honor in college sports decline significantly, from 125-to-1 down to 200-to-1. However, the Maxwell Football Club saw the projected first-round draft pick in a different light, as they selected him as Week 1’s Bednarik player of the week, given to college football’s best defensive player.
Come year’s end, the younger Bosa brother very well might be the best defender in college football for the entire season, but it’s almost impossible to imagine a world in which he would be considered for the Heisman Trophy; not because he doesn’t deserve it, but he’s likely just not going to get the opportunities to wrack up the gaudy stats that a defensive player would need for consideration.
First, Bosa only played regularly in the first half against Oregon State, and while the Beavers will likely be one of the worst opponents Ohio State faces all year, the Buckeye coaching staff is not shy about pulling starters on both sides of the ball when a game is out of reach; we saw it in nearly every game that didn’t come down to the wire in 2017.
Second, though it probably doesn’t have the depth of experience that it has in the last few years, the Ohio State defensive line is insanely talented. When you think about the fact that Bosa is starting on a line that also includes Dre’Mont Jones, Chase Young or Jonathan Cooper, and “Big Bob” Robert Landers, that is terrifying for opposing offenses. But, when you start considering that freshmen like Tommy Togiai, Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, and Taron Vincent are waiting in the wings, along with backups Davon Hamilton, Haskell Garrett, and Jashon Cornell, it is difficult to imagine there being enough snaps for all of the players to have the impact that they would on lesser lines.
Finally, think back to 2015. Nick’s older brother, Joey Bosa, saw significant declines in his sack (13.5 in 2014 to 5 in 2015) and tackles for loss totals (21.5 to 16) from the previously year. Now, friends, I’m here to tell you that this is not because everyone’s favorite shrugging Buckeye all of a sudden got worse at football following the National Championship. No, it is because he was routinely double and triple-teamed, minimizing the direct impact that you could have on busting up plays, but opening up opportunities for linemates like Tyquan Lewis.
I imagine as Nick’s star continues to rise, something similar will happen to him. He will begin to receive more and more attention from offensive lines, opening up opportunities for other Buckeye defenders to make a name for themselves in the opposing backfield.
So, unfortunately, I can’t foresee a situation in which Nick Bosa is a legit Heisman Trophy candidate, even if he ultimately deserves it.
“Ryan Day and the Ohio State coaching staff were behind the scenes trying to find a balance between running a training camp without Meyer and keeping the program’s 21 verbal commitments, 16 in 2019 and five in 2020, on board while everyone waited for the other shoe to drop.”
For a lot of reasons, this has been an underreported aspect of the entire Urban Meyer suspension story; mainly because most of the Buckeyes’ recruits have remained loyal to the program, despite all of the uncertainty at the top of the program. However, while things have been mostly quiet on that front publicly, that is likely only because of how much work has been done behind the scenes by OSU’s staff.
All things considered, if the Buckeyes weather this storm losing only one commit from either their 2019 and 2020 classes combined, they will have to consider that a win. It has long been said that recruiting is about relationships, and one would have to imagine that the relationships built by Meyer impacted the bulk of the recruits to remain committed during this trying period.
But, the work that Mark Pantoni, Ryan Day, and the entire staff put in speaks volumes about just how good they are at this aspect of their jobs.
“For me, and I think this goes with most people in the class, when you commit to Ohio State, you commit to more than just one person,” said five-star recruit Garrett Wilson told cleveland.com. “This is a program that whoever has been at the helm, they’ve had success and put players in the league. You gotta get an education, and they set you up for stuff after football. This is bigger than just one person at Ohio State. Coach Meyer has a huge impact of course, but it’s more than just one person.”
Day mentioned during his very first press conference that they have been very open with players and their families throughout the process, even if that put them in uncomfortable situations or brought up questions that they couldn’t answer.
“The communication has been, ‘Hey, listen, you can ask questions, we may not have he the answers to them, but ask the hard questions,’” the interim head coach said. “So there’s been open communication with all of them. They have all stuck together and I know that they all communicate with each other. So that’s been a positive.”
There is no handbook for how to deal with a situation like this, but from the outside, it appears that the entirety of the Ohio State football staff has handled about as well as could be imagined, both on and off the field.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this Saturday’s game against Rutgers is going to be especially close, or that the Scarlet Knights are going to put up anything resembling a legitimate fight, but I do think that they will actually score against the Buckeyes, which hasn’t happened in the last two meetings.
The combined score of the OSU-Rutgers games from during former Buckeye assistant Chris Ash’s first two years in Piscataway has been 114-0. However, that appears to be changing. As I discussed with Aaron Breitman from SB Nation’s Rutgers blog On the Banks, Ash has changed the culture at Rutgers, and you are starting to see its impact on the field.
The Scarlet Knights are starting true freshman Artur Sitkowski at quarterback, less than a year after he decommitted from the University of Miami to play for Ash. In his first start, he had a workman-like 205 yards on 20-for-29 passing in his team’s 35-7 win over Texas State last Saturday.
No one is going to expect Sitkowski to be that efficient against the Buckeyes, nor for running back Raheem Blackshear to have 118 yards from scrimmage, but the point is that Ash is making Rutgers football interesting and competitive, and while they play in the brutal Big Ten East, bowl eligibility isn’t out of the realm of possibilities this season.
So, yes, it will likely be another lopsided, early season victory for the Buckeyes, there is reason to keep an eye out for what Ash is doing on the banks of the Raritan River.
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