Coaches never like to move starters, or guys with starting potential around unless they absolutely have to. After the Bearcats were gashed on the ground against an admittedly top shelf back in Kareem Hunt and an outstanding offensive line for Toledo the Bearcats needed to make a change. One of those changes was to move strongside defensive end Brad Harrah to defensive tackle.
In his first game at that spot Harrah had a tremendous impact on the game notching 6 tackles and 2.5 sacks playing as a three technique defensive tackle. He is a bit undersized for the gig, though not as much as his listed weight* would suggest. But his history at end gives him the ability to make an impact as a pass rusher.
* Which is 258 pounds and about 20 pounds under what his true weight is
Harrah did not start for the Bearcats against Miami at defensive tackle, Camaron Beard did. But Harrah was used extensively on passing downs and was effective. Having Harrah at defensive tackle allows the Bearcats to get more creative with their pass rush in obvious passing situations. A sparingly used lineup that included Beard at the nose tackle, Harrah at the three technique, Silverberry Mouhon and Terrill Hartsfield at the ends was devastating. That group is basically four defensive ends, and it had positive effects for a pass rush that struggled to get traction against Toledo. Without going back to study it in depth, only looking at the highlights the group was on the field for at least three of the Bearcats eight sacks, both forced fumbles and Zach Edwards interception.*
* Possibly more, I will update this after charting the Miami game later this week
That package was one that the Bearcats used in short bursts against Miami, but its effectiveness could be intoxicating to some fans who view the Bearcats as a smoldering crater of ruin after the Toledo game. That view was understandable a week ago, but is less so now after holding a relatively explosive* if inconsistent offense to 5.2 yards per play.
* You can laugh at that characterization because MOOOO or whatever, but actually look at the numbers. There are plenty of offenses in the country who would kill for even the middling level of explosive plays that Miami has produced this year
In most situations against Ohio State the Bearcats will be in their base defense with Brandon Mitchell or Alex Pace at the nose, and Beard and Harrah manning the other interior spot. That gives the Bearcats more bulk at the point of attack against the Buckeye's power and inside zone game. But there is another package that Hank Hughes has only deployed sparingly to this point that could see extensive use against the Buckeyes. It's a hybrid 3-4 with three down linemen, a stand up end/OLB and two linebackers that could make an impact after being shown briefly in the Miami game. It's In that look that Harrah's versatility as a defender could become a big factor. He can play both end spots and as a defensive tackles. That could give the Bearcats the ability to stay in their base personnel while constantly moving him around and thus changing the look they show a struggling Ohio State offensive line. That is exactly the kind of wrinkle that former defensive coordinator Tommy Tuberville would want to show as little as possible of before springing it on an unsuspecting offense.