Ohio State football: Defense passes first test without Chase Young
Ohio State found out what life was like without defensive end and surefire All-American Chase Young last week against Maryland.
Young, who has admitted to taking a loan from a person he calls a family friend when he was a freshman, was suspended as a result and missed Saturday’s game. Initial reports indicated that he would be suspended for 4 games, but the Toledo Blade reported this week that the suspension might only be 2 games, which would mean that Young would return after this week’s game at Rutgers.
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure: As much as Ohio State will miss Young for however long he is out, the Buckeyes have the depth to keep dominating on defense.
The 73-14 victory against the Terrapins was not much of a test, nor will this week’s game against the Scarlet Knights.
The Buckeyes set a season high for sacks with 7 against the Terrapins and they reached double digits in tackles for loss for the fourth time this season with 11.
That game apart, if any position on the Ohio State roster can absorb such a blow as losing Young, it’s the defensive line.
Davon Hamilton is third on the team in sacks with 6, behind only Young (15.5) and linebacker Malik Harrison (10.5). Tyreke Smith, who missed three games and had one sack all season coming into the Maryland game, had 2 sacks against the Terrapins. Defensive tackle Jashon Cornell has 5 sacks on the season.
And just behind that D-line? Harrison has stepped up his game all season, putting together perhaps his best performance against Maryland by batting down two passes, tying for the team lead with 5 tackles and adding a sack.
The whole defense had to deal with the Young situation and, though it has only been one game, the players seem to be dealing with it well.
“Chase is dealing with a situation that we’re all supporting him with, and once we get some clarity on what’s going on, we’ll go from there,” OSU coach Ryan Day said after the Maryland game. “…And one thing about football that’s different than almost any sport, a guy can roll an ankle or hurt himself or get a concussion at any point and another guy has to step up. It’s not like you don’t have the mentality of the next guy up in football. You do.”
For sure, OSU is going to want Chase Young back for the final two games of the regular season, against Penn State and Michigan. And any Big Ten championship dreams, never mind College Football Playoff ambitions, will rely at least in part on the likely top-5 NFL Draft pick.
But last week’s game against Maryland demonstrated that the OSU defense can still make plays even without its biggest playmaker.