Skull Session: The Bosa Brothers Are Talented, Ohio State’s Defensive History And Seth Towns Exposes Brice Sensabaugh

By Chase Brown on August 12, 2022 at 5:00 am
Now there are two of them!
Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports

Congratulations, Eleven Warriors readers. You made it to the end of the work week.

Thank you for welcoming me into your community with open arms. I look forward to writing more Skull Sessions and features in the future. Here is my latest one to take you into the weekend.

 AN ELITE DUO. Ohio State fans and those who follow the NFL know the talent Nick and Joey Bosa possess. They are talented edge rushers with a knack for taking down the opposing quarterback, creating energy and momentum for their respective teams.

As I searched for topics to discuss in Friday's Skull Session, I stumbled across a newsletter Trench Warfare written by NFL analyst Brandon Thorn. The newsletter can best be explained as Pro Football Focus, but with words and statistics that the common folk can understand.

After the 2021 season, Thorn charted every sack recorded by a defensive end or linebacker and quantified a metric called True Sack Rate (TSR), which identifies edge rushers who “utilized the highest skill level against the most difficult set of circumstances to record a sack.” TSR provides a “sack score” based on a points system specifying four types of sacks and forced fumbles.

According to Thorn, Nick Bosa was the third-best edge rusher last season behind the Bears' Robert Quinn and the Steelers' T.J Watt with a 14.25 sack score and 52.6 snaps per sack, while Joey Bosa was fifth with a 12.0 sack score and 77.1 snaps per sack.

Thorn wrote that the former Buckeye defensive ends are talented because of their physical strength, fine-tuned technique and football IQ.

The Bosa brothers both finished inside the top five in sack score and somehow are two of the four or five most skilled edge-rushers in the NFL. Each player has an uncanny understanding of how to adapt their pass-rush plan on the fly based on the specific weakness or error of the tackle they are facing.

Nick Bosa finished the year tied with Myles Garrett for the second most high-quality sacks (nine) in the NFL and eight of those were either using his vaunted forklift technique, bull-rush or going inside with a stutter club-rip. While Nick is more of a power-oriented rusher that can win outside, Joey is a little more diverse in his approach with a higher likelihood of going outside first. Four of Joey’s seven high-quality sacks came going outside with either a side-scissors, club-swim, stab-club, or power pop moves to the corner.

To make it even simpler, the Bosa brothers are elite. They are game-wreckers, and the 49ers and Chargers are lucky to have them on their teams. May there be many more shoulder shrugs in their futures.

 A HISTORY OF TOP-FIVE DEFENSES. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day made headlines at Big Ten Media Days in July when he set an expectation for his defense to finish in the top 10 nationally. First-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles upped the ante when he told local media Tuesday that he wished Day “would've said top five.”

But how often do the Buckeyes have a top-five defense?

After countless Google searches, I couldn't find much information on defensive stats before 2000 – that was the furthest back Sports Reference College Football went. I decided that would be enough to accurately show how often Ohio State has featured a top defense in the modern college football era.

2000 13th
2001 20th
2002 2nd
2003 16th
2004 20th
2005 5th
2006 5th
2007 1st
2008 6th
2009 5th
2010 5th
2011 27th
2012 31st
2013 27th
2014  26th
2015 3rd
2016 3rd
2017 15th
2018 53rd
2019 4th
2020 44th
2021 38th

In the last 21 years, Ohio State had nine teams with top-five defenses. Three of those nine teams reached the national championship game, with the Buckeyes defeating Miami (Fla.) in double overtime in 2002 before losing to Florida in 2006 and LSU in 2007.

The table also tells us that 33 percent (three of nine) of Ohio State's teams with top-five defenses since 2000 reached the national title game. The Buckeyes have played in the championship five times after the turn of the century, meaning 60 percent (three of five) of the title-game appearances came with a top-five defense that season. The other two trips were in 2015 with the No. 26 total defense and 2020 with the 44th-best unit.

If Knowles' players meet his expectations, it's not far-fetched to expect Ohio State to go the distance this fall, especially if the offense is on par with its recent success under Day.

 TOWNS EXPOSES SENSABAUGH. Ohio State freshman small forward Brice Sensabaugh was featured in my Tuesday Skull Session for flexing his basketball muscles this summer in the Kingdom League and the Bahamas. As it turns out, Sensabaugh has been flexing for a while now, and graduate forward Seth Towns has proof.

I award Zach Fleer of 270 Hoops a gold star for pointing out that this was likely what Sensabaugh looked like six years ago when Towns started his freshman year with the Harvard basketball program in 2016.

Oh, when Instagram was casual, and people posted photos without a care in the world. Simpler times.

 OLYMPIC VILLAGE. In my brief time covering Ohio State athletics, I have been privileged to write about football, men's basketball and women's basketball. However, my favorite thing to report on is the Olympic sports at the university.

With that said, I would like to talk about those programs in my Skull Sessions whenever possible. For our first trip to the Olympic Village, we look at the Ohio State wrestlers representing the United States in Bulgaria next week.

Incoming freshman Nic Bouzakis and Nick Feldman will compete for Team USA at the U20 Junior World Championships. They've spent the summer months training with former Buckeye Kollin Moore, Ohio State senior Malik Heinselman and fellow first-year Seth Shumate.

Moore, a four-time All-American for head coach Tom Ryan, said the international stage offers a unique challenge for wrestlers. Still, he thinks the experience will benefit Bouzakis and Feldman before they compete for Ohio State in 2022-23.

“It’s just a different level,” Moore said of wrestling at worlds. “Especially after just coming out of high school. The competition is just eye-opening. You get to wrestle against some of the best kids in the world. Everything is a learning experience and the more you experience, the more you learn.”

Bouzakis and Feldman will have program assistants J Jaggers and Logan Stieber in their corners during bouts. Stieber said the incoming freshman have significantly matured in recent months and will rely on their technique and strength against opponents.

“The junior worlds is a prestigious event,” Stieber said. “You see a lot of guys who wrestle in the junior worlds wrestle in the senior worlds and Olympics the following year. I’m excited for (Bouzakis and Feldman) to compete next week.”

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Halfway Up” by The Brook & The Bluff.

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