Bosa Looking to Change His Game By Doing Exactly What He's Always Done
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then things are about to get pretty crazy for Ohio State sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa.
Even though Bosa was a five-star signee out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he still caught everybody off guard by how well he performed almost immediately last year.
Photo by Dan Harker
Bosa backed up Adolphus Washington in the first two games a season ago before Washington was injured. Inserted into the starting lineup against Cal, Bosa notched two tackles for loss and announced his disruptive presence on the Ohio State defensive line.
His first sack wouldn't come until the Buckeyes' fifth game of the year, but he would tally 7.5 sacks over OSU's final nine games. He finished the season with 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. The sacks were good enough for second on the team, and the tackles for loss were third.
The 7.5 sacks is a school record for an Ohio State freshman defensive lineman, so following a season like that one, the expectations are soaring for Bosa. How will he replicate the success that he had as a true freshman? He has a very simple plan for that.
"Just do what I did, keep working hard, and try to improve every day," he said.
That's certainly the proper attitude, as hard work is always the correct answer, but as new defensive line coach Larry Johnson said this spring, Bosa cannot remain the same player and still be successful. He can draw on what made him successful as a freshman, but he has to apply it in different ways now.
"I think the key is that he doesn't stay the same," Johnson said.
"He's got to move forward. The thing that he and I talk about is that we've got to forget about last year, it's about this year. Every time you step on the field you've got to be a better player because he'll be a marked guy. They're gonna turn protection to him, they're gonna chip him. It's going to be a different game than he saw last year because they know who he is, so he's got to get prepared for that. Right now he's doing a good job of working."
Without even seeing him on the field as a sophomore yet, those who bestow accolades will be shipping them Bosa's way. He is likely to be popping up on a number of All-American lists, and certainly almost every All-Big Ten list.
For a sophomore, that might be a lot to handle. Johnson said he's okay with all of the attention that Bosa is receiving because he's the one who will not only be trying to get every bit of talent out of him, but will also be keeping him grounded with the realization that nothing will be given to him.
"Hey, that's okay, as long as Bosa can handle it," Johnson said of the attention.
"I'm the guy to calm the storm, so I'll continue to calm the storm in the meeting room. So he knows what he's gotta do to get better, and that's all you want, it really is. He's a great young man, and that's the most important thing."
As far as Bosa is concerned, the attention doesn't really mean much. It certainly doesn't mean offensive linemen are going to simply lay down and give him free run at their quarterback. He is aware of what brought him success as a freshman, and he is remaining aware of what will be needed of him as a sophomore.
"It's great to get all of this attention and everything, but it never really affected me," he said. "I'm still a freshman, they still pick on me, I'm still just the new kid pretty much. I don't have a big head, I just keep doing what I'm doing."
Bosa is going to do what he's done all along, which involves him putting in the type of work that got him on the field so quickly a year ago. In doing this, the hope is that he will become the improved and different player that his coach needs him to be.
The potential is obviously there, but whether or not he is the different player that Larry Johnson is seeking will depend on how little Bosa changes what has worked for him so far.
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