Ohio State defense makes adjustments for Fiesta Bowl

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Ohio State was already missing suspended defensive tackle Adolphus Washington.

Now the No. 7 Buckeyes could also be without injured defensive lineman Tommy Schutt when they play Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

Schutt, a senior who started the first seven games before missing the next two after surgery to repair a fracture in his wrist, was hurt during practice.

''I don't know how bad yet,'' coach Urban Meyer said Thursday. ''But we've got depth issues inside right now on defense.''

Washington, also a senior, was suspended by Meyer after being cited for a misdemeanor charge of soliciting for prostitution on Dec. 10. He started all 12 games and for the second-best scoring defense (14.0 points per game) in the nation.

''It's definitely a tough hit, especially after (Schutt's injury) yesterday,'' All-America defensive end Joey Bosa said

However, he's confident Ohio State (11-1) will be able to compensate against the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish (10-2).

Bosa noted that several players, notably freshman Sam Hubbard, played well when he was suspended for the season opener, a 42-24 win at Virginia Tech, for violating athletic department policy.

''That's what the D-line room is all about, stepping up when one of us goes down,'' Bosa said. ''I'm a testament to that, missing the first game and they were able to step up and have a great game without me.''

Joel Hale, who usurped Schutt as a starter the past five games, would likely have retained his spot. But the Schutt injury leaves less experience on the line to fill the hole vacated by Washington, who was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season.

Sophomore defensive tackles Michael Hill, Donovan Munger and Tracy Sprinkle are battling for playing time.

''Things are going to happen,'' defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. ''We're going to put a lot of pressure on those guys. That's when you see what kind of team we have. The next best guy will go in and we'll find a way to be successful.''

Bosa has occasionally played the interior line at Washington's usual 3-technique spot on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard and will likely see some time there vs. Notre Dame.

''We're all getting reps inside and outside,'' Bosa said. ''We've all been rotating that 3-technique. It's been a group effort. I think we'll pull it off. Right now I've been getting some work there, a last-case scenario thing.''

The defense must also deal with a change in the staff after co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chris Ash became Rutgers' head coach Dec. 7.

A week later, former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano was named his replacement at Ohio State.

Meyer said Ash will retain the same duties for the Fiesta Bowl as he had prior to taking the job at Rutgers and that Schiano has not yet been involved in the planning.

As for finding motivation for the Fiesta Bowl after winning the College Football Playoff championship game last season, senior All-American left tackle Taylor Decker said that's not an issue.

''This is my last game, so it's a championship game to me,'' he said. ''I don't think any of the `New Year's Six' (games) have lost their luster just because you're not playing for a championship.''

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