Ohio State: How To Replace Washington And Schutt


The Ohio State Buckeyes will be without two important defensive players but there are options to replace them.

It is never a good thing to have a suspect run defense lose both starting interior linemen. Unfortunately for Ohio State, that is exactly what is happening. Adolphus Washington‘s brush with the law on a solicitation charge was the first major blow. Then to make matters worse, Tommy Schutt‘s broken foot (to pair with a broken wrist of all things) will force him out of the Fiesta Bowl versus Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is averaging 214.8 rushing yards per game with running back C.J. Prosise (1,032 yards, 11 td’s) and quarterback DeShone Kizer (757 yards, 5 td’s) leading the way.

So how do the Buckeyes replace both Washington and Schutt? There are a couple of ways to do it, but the best option is to push defensive end Joey Bosa inside where Washington lined up and start defensive lineman Michael Hill in the place of Schutt. Bosa would provide the type of disruption needed inside, where his speed and exceptional burst can cause havoc before running plays even have a chance to develop.

Hill is built more to simply plug up the run. He does not have the same pedigree or experience of playing with broken bones like Schutt has. Yet, Hill is a big and sturdy lineman that has played much of the year against some of the best running attacks in college football.

The issue with moving Bosa inside is that it likely pushes defensive end Sam Hubbard into the starting lineup in place of him. Hubbard was a freshman All-American, but he is best suited rushing the passer and not taking on blockers against the run. Remember, Hubbard came to Ohio State as a safety prospect and is still just a freshman.

I am not sure I am all that comfortable lining him up across from Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley and setting the edge. Hubbard will at the very least get the lion’s share of the passing downs, where his athleticism and natural pass rush skills will be best put to use.

You will also see Jalyn Holmes in the rotation with Hubbard on the edge. With the same 6’5, 265 pound frame as Hubbard, Holmes is best suited to rush the passer. He will be needed to give Hubbard a break and keep both men fresh to be as maniacal on the edge in place of Bosa as possible. By giving Holmes a few more snaps, it will be a three-man rotation to accommodate Bosa’s move inside in order to keep them fresh. Doing that should allow them to get to Kizer enough to limit the likes of wide receiver William Fuller.

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Where things will get very interesting is at the tackle spots inside. With both Washington and Schutt out, there’s quite a few snaps to be had. Lets say Bosa does not move inside given the relative lack of depth at end. That leaves Hill as a starter at one tackle spot, presumably Schutt’s.

The most likely candidate not named Bosa to step in is Joel Hale, the senior who has bounced between both offensive and defensive lines throughout his career. There is no doubt that Hale has the motor to play inside. Hale has played pretty well in the spot duty he’s seen this season. He may not be able to handle a full workload, but Hale’s been around a long time and will be able to find the needed motivation after a long set of bowl practices to be ready.

Behind Hill and Hale is some combination of  fellow defensive tackles Tracy Sprinkle and Donovan Munger. Sprinkle has seen more time in the rotation along the defensive line, so it is likely he sees more snaps if it comes to it.

Most likely Bosa will see some time inside if needed to give Hill, Hale, and Sprinkle some reinforcements since both Holmes and Hubbard are capable of manning the end spot on passing downs. It is not ideal to dip this low into the depth chart, but assistant head coach/defensive line coach Larry Johnson and head coach Urban Meyer have had all of these weeks to prepare.

Next: 2016 Fiesta Bowl Mirrors '06 Game

Buckeye fans can take some comfort in knowing that those two veterans are taking care of things.