Ohio State's Joey Bosa ready to stop watching puppies, start rushing QBs

"He's definitely going to come out with a chip on his shoulder," teammate Ezekiel Elliott said of Joey Bosa, "and I think you'll probably see a different Joey than before -- which is kind of scary." Joe Robbins/Getty Images

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The reality of his situation was sinking in, and Joey Bosa apparently needed an outlet for his frustration.

Ohio State's star defensive end was less than a week away from being stuck at home watching Ezekiel Elliott's 3-month-old puppy instead of taking the field with his teammates for the season opener at Virginia Tech, and those around him could sense his frustration.

Bosa marched through the Woody Hayes Athletic Center dripping with sweat after one of the final practices before the Buckeyes left him behind. He had stayed a full 30 minutes for individual work after the rest of the roster had hit the showers, and there was no mistaking the intensity on Bosa's face. He desperately seemed to be looking for a chance to make up for the offseason mistake that forced him to miss the opener while serving a one-game suspension.

"You know, he was hurt for sure," Elliott said. "But he's handling it well. He's going to come back stronger than ever. He's definitely ready after the offseason and then not being able to play.

"He's definitely going to come out with a chip on his shoulder, and I think you'll probably see a different Joey than before -- which is kind of scary."

Given how terrifying Bosa already was to opposing quarterbacks, what he might be capable of thanks to re-dedication and added motivation ahead of what figures to be his last season with the Buckeyes is hard to even picture. He racked up 13.5 sacks and earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, and there was still room to improve in terms of his technique, ability to read plays and his physique. That doesn't bode well for anybody trying to block him -- starting with Hawaii on Saturday.

Even more troubling for teams on Ohio State's schedule? His backup, Sam Hubbard, looked more than capable of disrupting an offense in Bosa's place. In his first start, Hubbard picked up the first sack of his career, adding to the embarrassment of riches for the reigning national champions now that Bosa has served his time for violating program rules.

"It's been a little bit humbling [for him], and you can see it," defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. "Again, whether it's what has happened or another year of maturity, I can seriously sit here and tell you that Joey Bosa is a different kid, a different player than he was last year. It's the ways you see him on the field, the way he goes about practice, the way he went about camp. He has definitely matured.

"His play speaks for itself. Obviously, he's in an accelerated program for one of those guys that has the levels and the ability and who knows how many years they're here. You have to accelerate their process, and it's really, I can tell you that he's definitely a different practice player than he was a year ago."

The version the Buckeyes had last season was plenty effective, particularly as Bosa started grasping the importance of playing within the system and not trying to do too much, which at times created issues for other Buckeyes when he wasn't sound with his assignment.

But as he grew out of that youthful eagerness to try to make every play, both the unit as a whole and Bosa himself flourished. He shot up prospective draft boards for next season and blossomed into arguably the nation's best defensive player. And after a week of simply being the country's most famous dog-sitter, the chance to deliver on the hype clearly has Bosa anxious to get back to work.

"He's done everything and above what we've asked," coach Urban Meyer said. "It was very hard for him, because he's a guy who academically and everything he takes care of his business, and obviously he made a mistake.

"I saw what I hoped to see from him, and the kind of family he's from and the kind of person he is, I kind of expected that. But I'm glad I did see it."

Up next: The chance to see Bosa back on the field with something to prove.