Anybody with access to the stats can tell Joey Bosa has had a drop in production this season compared to last — if they only look at sacks.
The Ohio State defensive end has only four in nine games so far this season after notching 13.5 last year in 15 contests. That is a drop from almost one per game to just below half of one per game.
But Bosa is on pace to beat his 2014 numbers in both total tackles (4.4 per game this season after 3.7 last year) and more importantly tackles for loss (up to 1.7 from 1.4 last season).
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And according to his head coach, that’s only part of his evolution as a player.
“It’s been a really pleasant growth of Joey’s," Urban Meyer said after Bosa had seven tackles, including three for loss, at Illinois last week. "He’s a team guy."
While dissecting line play can be difficult for those who are not trained to do so, watching Bosa with any closeness speaks to what Meyer was talking about.
As evidenced by at least one triple-team and many double-team blocks Bosa faced against the Fighting Illini, opposing teams are still plenty concerned about what he can do.
That’s making life easier for a lot of other players on the Ohio State defense.
"He’s a leader now, you know last year he wasn’t," Meyer said. "He was kind of a guy that did his own deal and did it very well, but he is all about team right now, he is all about being unselfish. He understands that the focus on him is going to unleash – Tommy Schutt got a sack, you see (Sam) Hubbard in the backfield, Tyquan (Lewis) getting pressure. Right now he’s the ultimate team guy.”
Lewis and Schutt both had sacks against Illinois while Bosa shared one with linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
Bosa heads into Ohio State’s last home game of the season fourth in the Big Ten in TFLs but only 20th in sacks.
However, Lewis is tied for seventh in the league with 6.5 sacks and Hubbard — who is not even a starter — is 15th with 4.5.
Lewis, the end starting opposite Bosa, also has 11.0 tackles for loss while starting tackles Schutt and Adolphus Washington have combined for 11.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.