Holmes consensus choice for shift to tackle

Nick McWilliams, Staff Writer
Buckeye Grove
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USA Today Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Urban Meyer was not serious when he said he thought Nick Bosa and Sam Hubbard could not play defensive tackle, but Tracey Sprinkle seems to think he has a point ... somewhat.

Against Rutgers, with Dre'Mont Jones out after a locker room mishap, defensive end Jalyn Holmes slid inside for some playing time in the middle of the defensive line. After years as an end, Holmes held his own in a position usually suited for much stockier and shorter frames.

Meyer said Monday that the decision to put Holmes instead of Hubbard and Bosa at tackle was made for one reason.

"Bosa, you probably don't want to get him in there. Sam Hubbard, you wouldn't want to get in there. It's a grown man position in there," Meyer said with a smile. "You can print this —say Bosa and Hubbard aren't tough enough to get in there."

After a few laughs, everything returned to normal. Hubbard and Bosa are two elite pass rushers, so it almost stands to reason they could in fact make it in the middle.

Sprinkle, who played alongside Holmes, said this was the first time his counterpart had spent extended time working as an interior defender.

"Last week was actually his first time practicing (defensive tackle)," Sprinkle said. "He picked up on a lot of things — he and coach (Larry) Johnson worked a little bit extra — he picked up on a lot of things real quick. He's looking real good."

Holmes had a quiet night statistically, picking up two solo tackles. However, he was a part of an absurd bullrush by the defensive line all night, leading to the three Scarlet Knights' quarterbacks who played running for their lives.

Sprinkle got a good laugh out of Meyer's comment, but went into a little more detail as to why Holmes got the nod.

"It's probably good fun, but those guys are a lot, like, built to be inside (sic)," Those are tall, leaner guys (Bosa and Hubbard). And, Jalyn's a pretty big dude, so he can get down there and get physical. I think they could do it if they had to, but we prefer them not to."

It's safe to assume Sprinkle was initially talking about Bosa and Hubbard. Although all three aforementioned players are nearly identical in listed weight and height, the difference in person in terms of body type is fairly obvious.

Meyer shared the sentiments of Sprinkle as to why the team favored Holmes' move, but he named Tyquan Lewis as another player who could make the shift if needed. Sprinkle saw things differently, and favored arguably Ohio State's best defensive lineman.

"Probably Nick," Sprinkle said. "Nick's a little bit shorter and stockier than Sam. Sam's real tall and lean."

When the argument comes down to who would be most dominant, and not who could just fill in efficiently enough at defensive tackle, that's when the incredible depth of the defensive line becomes apparent. Jones will be out again this week, so maybe someone else other than Holmes will get a crack at nose tackle.

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