The 2019 Rose Bowl will be the first matchup between Ohio State and Washington since 2007.
In that game, Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes beat Tyrone Willingham’s Huskies, 33-14. In the 11 years since, both teams have changed coaches a couple times.
But there is some familiarity between the coaching staffs.
OSU co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for Washington State from 2015-2017. In each of those years, his Cougars faced off with Washington in the season-ending Apple Cup.
That means that not only does Grinch have some insight into what the Huskies might try to do in the Rose Bowl, Washington’s coaching staff knows what Grinch likes to do as well.
“He was always tough,” said Washington offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan. “Regardless of where Washington State was, you knew he was going to pose a lot of issues. And that’s certainly the biggest game of the year always for us.”
Hamdan said that he clearly sees Grinch’s fingerprints on this year’s OSU defense.
“From a schematic standpoint, again, it’s the amount of movement and penetration they create up front and been really sound, quarter scheme and the back end.”
Hamdan was very complimentary of Grinch’s abilities, and his impact not only on the Buckeyes, but also in his previous stop.
“Washington State hasn’t really changed very much since he’s left. I think emphasis on turnovers, schematically, extremely similar. That’s how you know a guy’s done a good job,” Hamdan said.
And he said that this year’s Buckeyes were more similar to Grinch’s former team than anyone else the Huskies played this year.
“Schematically, Washington State, from Grinch being there couple years back. So very similar there,” Hamdan said.
“Personnel-wise, I think obviously they’re obviously up there as one of the best defenses we’ll face. We thought Utah was extremely talented with their defense. Up front, the front seven, we think Auburn had a lot of players similar to these guys. This is what you expect in these kind of games. We know it will be a big challenge.”