October 29, 2009
Injuries are a part of football and ever since the 85 scholarship rule went into place the coaching ranks have had to sweat out every single time a player goes down in practice or in a game with so little depth potentially on the depth chart.
The Buckeyes this season have been snake bitten with the injury bug and while it has not been something that has all come at once it has been a nagging problem and going into the New Mexico State game there will be players coming off of the shelf while other players will be forced to miss time if not more due to the inevitable injury bug.
On the offensive side of the ball there is good news with the return of Brandon Saine who there was a concussion scare over. Saine will start the game but expect to see Jordan Hall see a lot of reps as well as Jermil Martin who is fresh off of his big debut as a running back in the dominating win over Minnesota.
But what about Dan Herron, he has been out for several weeks now and the former starter's status has been up in the air for the last couple of games.
"We would love to have him turn the corner and even if it is just play a little, I just think to get over that hump of being back in game form, that would be a big bonus for us both for Saturday and for beyond," head coach Jim Tressel said during his weekly Thursday press conference.
Linebacker Andrew Sweat is apparently done for the season and that means that Etienne Sabino should be jumping into Sweat's role as the de facto 4th linebacker. Fans were getting antsy that the sophomore has not had an opportunity to play but defensive coordinator Jim Heacock raved on Wednesday about how everything seems to be finally coming together for the Miami (Fla.) Dr. Krop star.
There will be good news defensively with Rob Rose and Orhian Johnson both making their way back to the field. Rose could have gone last week but fortunately the team had the luxury of holding him out. The prognosis is not as positive for Dexter Larimore who will miss yet another game. The good news is that Dex was allowed to participate in the non-contact part of practice this week and his status will be re-evaluated on a week by week basis.
The biggest hit comes on the offensive line where the Buckeyes will be without two starters come Saturday. Tressel half-joked that it seems that two linemen were always being held out and that this list would be the latest two. Mike Adams will be held out with a knee injury while Justin Boren will miss his first start as a Buckeye with an undisclosed foot injury.
That means that Andrew Moses will get the start at guard but expect to see players like Andy Miller and Jim Cordle to get plenty of action on the interior line and Marcus Hall to continue platooning out at tackle.
"Miller can play anywhere on that left side," Tressel said. "Jim Cordle can play anywhere and Moses can play the middle three."
Boren had been slowed before with the flu but the news that he wouldn't be able to go came as a shock to the Ohio State head coach.
"I was surprised that he was going to be out this week," Tressel said. "I didn't know it until after the end of (Wednesday's) work."
Injuries to the offensive line are really not anything new to the Buckeyes who have had line depth issues for the past several seasons.
"I think that last year we may have gone with five linemen," Tressel said. "I don't even remember who the 6th guy was."
While nobody wants to try and make light of the injuries that have slowed down the line there is always a positive spin that can be put on just about anything.
"One thing they have had an opportunity to do which not every group does is they have had an opportunity to have had to play next to someone different all of the time and still get the job done," Tressel said. "There is some value in that and some value in handling adversity. Personally I would like to have eight or nine guys and play them a lot so when you do have the inevitable bang ups there you don't miss a beat."
The eight or nine linemen have been in name only due to timing that can be considered as fortunate in many regards.
"I am not sure we never got to that point where all eight or nine were playing and then we just got one," Tressel said. "We have been lucky that they have not all come at once."
And with three big games coming at the end of the Big Ten season the Bucks will need all hands on deck if they want to be California Dreaming when it is all said and done.
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