COLUMBUS — Ohio State was already in the midst of a youth movement.
There is really no other choice for the Buckeyes on Saturday night in the Horseshoe.
The veteran depth on the defensive line has essentially been wiped out ahead of the final nonconference tuneup of the season against Akron, likely ramping up the workload for a handful of freshmen. Rotation regulars Tyreke Smith, Taron Vincent and Javontae Jean-Baptiste were all ruled unavailable by Ohio State on Saturday afternoon, stretching thin a unit that was already underperforming by program standards early in the year.
“It needs to improve,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said on Tuesday. “When you play with the four down front, you want to see disruption in the backfield. So, we’re going to continually work on that and try to find ways to put them in the best position to be successful. But I feel pressure does help. But like you said, there are some one on one situations that we just got to do a better job executing.
“Pressure does help. … That’s something that we’ll spend a lot of time on this week and trying to get that fixed.”
The Buckeyes will have to do it without two of their most experienced pass-rushing threats, and junior captain Zach Harrison has also been dealing with an injury after missing last week’s win over Tulsa. Harrison has been cleared for a return, but Ohio State is likely going to be cautious with any borderline health situation as massive favorites over Akron and with Big Ten play resuming next week.
That approach would appear to be the case with cornerback Cameron Brown and offensive lineman Thayer Munford. Neither will play against the Zips, but the veteran starters aren’t believed to be dealing with any long-term injury issues at this point.
The primetime game was always likely to be a showcase for the younger Buckeyes, particularly with starting quarterback C.J. Stroud also being held out to rest his sore shoulder. But that will officially be the case right from the opening kickoff in a few key spots for Ohio State now.
The full availability report from the program is below, making note that Ohio State doesn’t reveal specific injury information or designation possible disciplinary absences.
Ohio State Game-Time Decisions
- WR Kamryn Babb
- CB Cameron Brown
- RB Marcus Crowley
- WR Julian Fleming
- DE Tyler Friday
- DE Javontae Jean-Baptiste
- DB Jaylen Johnson
- OL Trey Leroux
- LB Mitchell Melton
- OL Harry Miller
- OL Thayer Munford
- DL Noah Potter
- DB Josh Proctor
- OL Ryan Smith
- DE Tyreke Smith
- DT Taron Vincent