Joey Bosa can fill up a stat sheet. With 13 sacks entering Monday night's national championship game against Oregon, the sophomore defensive end is a half-sack behind Vernon Gholston's Ohio State season record. He also leads the Buckeyes with 20 tackles for a loss and has forced four fumbles.

DALLAS - Joey Bosa can fill up a stat sheet.

With 13½ sacks entering Monday night's national championship game against Oregon, the sophomore defensive end is a half-sack behind Vernon Gholston's Ohio State season record. He also leads the Buckeyes with 20 tackles for a loss and has forced four fumbles.

When an offense game plans for Ohio State, containing Bosa is their first priority. So Bosa has had to adapt. Every defensive player wants to make the big play. The best ones understand how they fit into the whole.

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When you believe you can make every play, it can be hard to accept simply being one of 11 guys with a specific task. But that has been what Bosa has learned this season.

Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson referred to a play in the Virginia Tech game as the "before" picture.

"We ran an inside stunt, and Joey should have had the edge and had one of those moments where (he decided), 'I'm going to bull-rush that guy,' " Johnson said. "If he holds the edge, we might get a safety out of it."

Instead, Virginia Tech made a big play. Coaches pointed out the error to him.

"I think from that moment on," Johnson said, "he realized that, 'you know what, these guys can do it. I can trust these guys.'

"That's been a key for him, being in the right spot and letting his teammates help him. I told the guys this morning that the reason we are where we are is the brotherhood of trust between them, the bond with each other. They trust each other."

Bosa explained the change.

"I felt like I always had to be the guy to do it," he said. "It wasn't me really being defiant. It was me trying to help the team and put the defense on my back.

"They showed me that if I do my job, I'll make just as many plays without going out of my way trying to make the big play, and we'll play better as a defense."

Bosa didn't have a tackle for a loss in either of the past two games against Wisconsin and Alabama, but the defense played at a high level.

"I've realized now that it's a lot more than getting sacks and stuff like that," he said. "It's taking on double-teams and freeing up my guys on the line. And that's just as effective as me making plays. I'm happy when my other D-linemen are making plays."

Johnson coached six NFL first-round picks in 18 years as Penn State's defensive line coach, including 2000 No. 1 overall pick Courtney Brown, before coming to Columbus this season. You'd think he'd be beyond being blown away by one of his players.

Yet Bosa does that to him.

"For a guy to be 6-5 and have the flexibility and mobility he has is really amazing," Johnson said. "He can do some things that you wouldn't think a 6-5 guy can do, the way he can bend and run the edge.

"I have not coached a guy like that in a long time that has that kind of ability. Those are the things I'm in awe about. When I watch him, I'll shake my head sometimes and just keep it to myself like, 'Man, wow, I've not seen that before.' "

Bosa was a unanimous All-America selection, the first such Buckeye since linebacker James Laurinaitis in 2007.

What Bosa wants even more is a national title. Asked how much he cared about getting the record-breaking sack on Monday, he replied, "Definitely not as much as winning the national championship. I could make no tackles, and as long as we win, I'll be happy."

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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