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Ohio State's Rushmen Package Strikes Fear into Opposing Quarterbacks
By Patrick Murphy
When the Buckeyes bring in the Rushmen Package, opposing offenses are in for a scare
Photo by Jim Davidson

COLUMBUS – It wouldn’t be surprising if Perry Hills, Chris Laviano, and Christian Hackenberg all still wake up screaming from nightmares and it has nothing to do with Halloween.

The three quarterbacks, as well as others the Buckeyes have faced this year, are facing a scary proposition when they line up against the OSU defensive line. The four starters – defensive ends Joey Bosa and Tyquan Lewis, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, and nose tackle Tommy Schutt – have all played well this year, but the most frightening thing is when the Scarlet and Gray go to their “Rushmen package.”

“Oh we like that,” linebacker Joshua Perry said. “I think guys get energy just seeing the package on the field.”

From Perry’s perspective, Schutt checks out of the game and Bosa slides over to defensive tackle. Washington moves to nose guard and redshirt freshman Sam Hubbard comes into the contest on the edge.

Now the Buckeyes’ defensive line has four current or former defensive ends on the field and can really get after the quarterback.

The package has made an impact as OSU is tied for eighth in the country with 26 sacks in eight games this year. Hills was sacked four times by the Buckeyes, Hackenberg five, and Laviano twice.

“I guess it speaks for itself,” Washington said of the package’s success. “We’ve been doing pretty good at it. We’ve been playing the run good against it and we’re definitely getting after the quarterback in it too. So pretty good I guess.”

While Ohio State makes the switch along the defensive line in obvious passing downs, the Rushmen package isn’t all about sacks or quarterback hurries. The diversity and talents of Washington and Bosa on the inside allow the Buckeyes to be prepared for whatever the opponent may throw at them.

“It gives us the ability to rush the passer and also play the run in impact situations,” Washington explained. “Sometimes teams don’t always pass the ball in obvious passing situations so we’ve still got enough weight in there, enough meat in there to still play against the run.”


Lewis and his fellow rushers dominate offensive lines
Photo by Jim Davidson

To be so good in these situations, this package had to be something Ohio State worked on this offseason, right? Wrong.

Hubbard made his first collegiate start in the season opener against Virginia Tech due to Bosa’s suspension and excelled with four tackles, one sack, and 1.5 tackles for a loss. This opened defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s eyes to the possibilities.

“I think it was the way Sam played against Virginia Tech because we knew nothing about,” Washington said of the package. “I don’t think we even ran it after the Virginia Tech game. I want to say it was a couple of games after that that we started running it. I definitely believe it was their confidence in Sam Hubbard to go in the game.”

After discussing the need for depth and rotation along the defensive line the last few years, the Buckeyes finally have that and are benefiting from their embarrassment of riches.

The Silver Bullets have done well all season long and are a big reason the defending national champions are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Each week, new quarterbacks have to prepare for the Scarlet and Gray defensive line and the pressure it’s going to bring. They likely wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking of the crushing blows Bosa, Hubbard, or Lewis will bring on Saturdays.

While it’s the quarterbacks that dread seeing this package come on the field, there is one Buckeye who’s not the its biggest fan either.

“To be honest, I don’t know [if I enjoy it] because I’ve got to play nose guard,” Washington said with a laugh. “I just get double teamed the whole time, but I’ll do it for a couple plays a game. That’s all good with me.”

Player profiles relevant to story:
6 - Hubbard, Sam | 59 - Lewis, Tyquan | 92 - Washington, Adolphus | 97 - Bosa, Joey
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