Ohio State heads to Rutgers this Saturday night for a 7:30 pm kickoff on BTN. On Tuesday, OSU released the depth chart they have going into the game.
The most notable change is the removal of redshirt freshman defensive tackle Malik Barrow. Barrow tore his ACL and will be out the rest of the season. It was not the same knee that he injured as a senior in high school. Barrow has already been through ACL rehab once, so he knows what is ahead of him. The good news for him now is that he has Ohio State’s facilities and rehab specialists working to get him back to where he can be when fully healthy.
Redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow got his first playing time of the year last week against UNLV, but you could see that he was not yet ready to take a snap from under center, so he had to leave the game at the end when OSU was taking a knee. He continues to get healthier and stronger, but is still probably a couple of weeks away from making a run at the backup job.
On Monday, Urban Meyer said that Mike Weber will play this week and is good to go. He could have played last week as well, but there was no point in it. Now begins the process for getting Weber ready for the heart of the Big Ten season.
Asked about freshmen who are improving, Meyer mentioned receiver Trevon Grimes. Grimes is not yet on the depth chart and isn’t yet part of the rotation, but he’s getting better.
Last week, walk-on H-back C.J. Saunders caught six passes for 102 yards, but don’t expect to see too much of him when the game is still on the line. Meyer says he’s not strong enough to block yet, and he can’t have receivers on the field who can’t block when the game is still in doubt. Obviously, Saunders is working to eliminate those concerns, but it’s a process.
One guy who is plenty strong — as you saw — is redshirt sophomore tight end Rashod Berry. Berry will continue to see more time, but he needs to protect the ball better before he can possibly push for even more time.
Running back Demario McCall played some last week, but Meyer said that he lacked the explosion that we had come to know from him last year. It was apparent to anybody watching, so McCall is clearly still working his way back. Expect that work to continue this week.
On the defensive line, nose tackle Robert Landers is listed as Tracy Sprinkle’s backup. He was last week as well, but he missed the UNLV game with his foot in a boot. Landers participated in practice on Tuesday and looks like he is good to go. Linebacker Chris Worley is also listed as probable this week.
Meyer mentioned a desire to see more time for freshmen linebackers Baron Browning and Pete Werner. Don’t expect to see either of them in the rotation yet, but when the game is out of hand, they should both see some snaps.
At times last week, it appeared as though Malik Harrison had passed Dante Booker as the team’s No. 1 Sam. Booker is still listed as the starter, but this position is becoming more and more of a rotation.
Meyer also mentioned earlier in the week that freshman cornerback Jeffrey Okudah had earned more playing time, but we’ll see if that means some time in the regular rotation. On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano didn’t seem to be too concerned with the pass defense or the cornerback play. As such, seeing Okudah rotating in this week might be a bit of a stretch.