It’s midseason in college football, which means most, if not all, teams are dealing with injuries on their roster. Ohio State is no exception.
While head coach Ryan Day didn’t get into specifics about ailments, as has been his policy, he did provide some updates on the status of certain players.
Third-year wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba broke the Buckeyes’ single-season school records for receptions and receiving yards in 2021, but he’s yet to play a complete game in 2022. Smith-Njigba exited in the first quarter of OSU’s first game against Notre Dame, reentered briefly, missed week two against Arkansas State, played a few limited reps against Toledo week three and hasn’t played since.
Day called Smith-Njigba “day-to-day” during Tuesday’s press conference, stating that he hopes to have him back for this Saturday’s matchup with Michigan State. He went into some further detail about what it’s been like to coordinate the team’s offense without one of its best players.
“One of the strengths of college coaching is being able to adapt to what you have,” Day said. “I think that’s what you’ve seen here. It kind of had to happen in-game during the Notre Dame game, it caught us all off guard. Then we’ve had to do that here over the next couple weeks. Looking forward to getting Jaxon back and getting him going. He certainly brings a whole nother element to our entire offense.”
Second-year cornerback Jordan Hancock was projected as the No. 3 corner on Ohio State’s roster and was likely to see meaningful snaps, but has yet to play this season. That could change shortly, however, following OSU’s off week. He’s back to practicing full speed, according to Day.
“We’re going to look to see if we can get through the bye week, then as we get to that game after the bye week we’re hoping to get him back in the game at that point,” Day said. “But it’s still sort of week-to-week at this point.”
Second-year running back TreVeyon Henderson ended up as a late scratch from Ohio State’s lineup against Rutgers, a decision made following pre-game warmups. In his stead, third-year running back Miyan Williams — who Henderson has split carries with when healthy — put up 189 yards in just 21 carries with a school-record-tying five rushing touchdowns.
Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford confirmed that Williams’ performance against the Scarlet Knights won’t change the split of carries between the two backs when both are healthy. Day noted Henderson could be back against the Spartans Saturday.
“At the end of the day, we leave all that stuff up the medical staff here to make those decisions, and certainly we’re anxious to get Tre back,” Day said.
Another player who could return against the Spartans is starting graduate cornerback Cam Brown, who missed both the Wisconsin and Rutgers games with injury. With second-year cornerback Denzel Burke, the squad’s other starter at the position, returning against Rutgers after also missing the Wisconsin contest, Ohio State could be back to its regular starters outside soon.
“He’s been itching to get back out there. He’s been stressing to get back out there,” Day said. “I’ve felt an urgency about him for the last week that he’s dying to get back on the field. We’re obviously going to make sure that he’s where he needs to be, and trust the doctors and all the medical people. But he’s trying really hard to get back on the field.”