Today’s Topic: What Will the Rushmen Package Look Like in 2019?
The early days of Ohio State’s Rushmen Package began in 2015. Designed to get the four best pass rushers on the field at the same time on passing downs, the Rushmen satisfied defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s desire to put as much pressure on the quarterback as possible.
The Rushmen probably would have begun in 2014, which was Johnson’s first year at Ohio State, but the loss of defensive end Noah Spence ended those possibilities before they began.
The 2015 iteration featured Joey Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Adolphus Washington, but it truly took hold in 2016 when Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa joined Lewis and Hubbard. There were no defensive tackles in the mix at all, and it remained that way again in 2017.
In 2018, however, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones was a part of the package, and it was one of the reasons he chose to return for a fourth season. Alongside Jones was a mixture of defensive ends in Bosa, Chase Young, Jonathon Cooper, and true freshman Tyreke Smith. Bosa’s days inside were over, however, which is why Smith was in there early on.
The results were mixed. The Buckeyes finished second in the Big Ten with 41 sacks, but did not get any tackles in the backfield from Smith.
With both Bosa and Jones now gone, there are two opens spots on the current edition of the Rushmen and there are several candidates to choose from. Young and Cooper will be the two guys outside, but the tough part is figuring out who is going to move inside on passing downs, which we saw Tyreke Smith do last year. Neither Young nor Cooper are likely to slide inside, which is why the position calls for some unique skill sets. Could there be another defensive tackle in the mix, like we saw with Jones last year?
Larry Johnson had Tracy Sprinkle pegged for it a few years ago before he injured his knee in the season opener. If a defensive tackle is going to win the job, he has to be a great pass rusher. Sophomore tackle Taron Vincent has tons of promise, and quickness to boot. If we’re talking tackles, he may be the best bet.
Fifth-year senior Jashon Cornell is also an option. He moved from tackle to defensive end a year ago and would provide perhaps the best combination of end and tackle for Ohio State.
Sophomore Tyler Friday is similar to Tyreke Smith in size and stature, as both are around 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds. They are big enough to rush from inside, yet quick enough to be effective at it.
Freshman Zach Harrison will receive attention, but he is likely not the answer to the question inside. Fellow freshman Noah Potter is probably not the guy either, but we saw Tyreke Smith do it last year as a freshman and Nick Bosa do it as a freshman in 2016. If either of those guys show what they need to show, Larry Johnson has no problem playing freshmen.
If we’re talking best bets, you can probably choose the inside guys from four candidates: Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, Jashon Cornell, and Taron Vincent.
As of this moment, however, my best guess would be Smith and Friday, with Vincent being one to watch.