On Tuesday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer hinted at the possibility of his team playing all four of its talented defensive ends — Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa — together along with defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, meaning the Buckeyes could potentially have five defensive linemen on the field at the same time.
Meyer was asked what he would like to accomplish this spring that he can’t do during the season as his team prepares to win games and he said it’s a chance to tinker and experiment with some different options that you simply don’t have time for in the middle of a season.
“We have five premier [DL] in my mind with four defensive ends and Dre’Mont Jones that I’d like to see all five on the field at one time,” Meyer said. “Coaches like to say you hold checkers. You have five really good checkers right there so play them all at once. Those are little things that we’re talking about and trying and that’s what you get to do in spring.”
On Thursday, Ohio State’s defensive linemen and position coach Larry Johnson were made available to the media and Meyer’s comments were a big talking point. And while neither Johnson nor any player elaborated too much on what a five-man defensive line would actually look like — why would they? It’s April — Hubbard said he spent some time this spring doing some stand-up linebacker work.
“We’ve done a lot of things with me dropping, playing a little stand-up and working around and playing around with that, different packages. It’s been fun,” Hubbard said. “We’ve all been working on different skill sets to all find a way on the field together so we’ll see how it plays out. Coach Johnson has got something up his sleeve I bet.”
It makes sense Hubbard would be the one to fill this potential role.
A former high school safety who spent part of his freshman season at Ohio State playing linebacker, Hubbard has the skill set and overall athleticism that would allow him to play this spot.
It likely wouldn’t be an every-down look, but Hubbard could theoretically replace one of the Buckeyes’ starting linebackers in this specific package as Lewis, Holmes, Jones and Bosa remain on the defensive line.
“I feel like Sam is a good enough dropper. Like I said, he played safety in high school, so he knows how to do all that stuff,” Bosa said. “I don't think we'd lose anything in the coverage and we'd gain another elite pass-rusher.”
It’s an interesting option, for sure, but it’s one we likely wouldn't see until the season begins in August. No more secrets will be revealed until then.
“It really has come together really nicely,” Hubbard said. "Them telling me to drop, they didn’t have to coach me up much because I know what I’m doing. Telling me to rush from like a linebacker stance, it’s like a D-lineman coming from depth.”
“It’s a good blend and it’s really helping me show my skill set to benefit the team.”