Ohio State had reason not to panic when it lost defensive end Nick Bosa to injury in the TCU game.
The Buckeyes, after all, had Chase Young.
Young might not be Bosa — not yet anyway. But the sophomore from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, has been tabbed for greatness since he stepped on campus as a five-star recruit. On Saturday, he achieved it.
Young stuffed the stat sheet in Ohio State’s dramatic 27-26 victory at Penn State. He had six tackles — three for loss, including two sacks. He added two critical pass knockdowns and capped the victory with a fourth-down stuff of running back Miles Sanders.
He earned the Chuck Bednarik award for top defensive performance of the week nationally and was the Big Ten’s defensive player of the week.
Young spoke to local reporters on Tuesday night for the first time since the game. Pleased as he was with his performance, he spent more time crediting teammates and defensive line coach Larry Johnson and speaking about improvements he still needs to make.
Asked how close that performance was to his potential, Young replied, “Not close at all. I made a few mistakes and I’ve got to get them corrected. Obviously, you’re never going to play a perfect game, but you have to try to play a perfect game and that’s what I want to do.”
On the play against Sanders, Young credited fellow linemen Dre’Mont Jones and Jonathon Cooper for their surge into the backfield, and especially Jashon Cornell for hindering the Penn State offensive tackle who was supposed to block Young.
“(Cornell’s) hip blocked the tackle,” Young said. “If the tackle got his hands on me, I probably wouldn’t have made the play.
“If (Sanders) had ran the other way, Coop would have made the play. It ain’t really about me. It’s the whole team.”
Young said he already has moved past the Penn State game to focus on this week’s game against Indiana.
Johnson said he hasn’t noticed opponents game-planning for Young the way they do for Bosa. But that is likely to change. Young is that talented.
Johnson harped on Young all offseason to refine his technique and add to what he describes as a player’s toolbox. He is still not all the way there. Young himself said he needs to use his hands better to fend off blocks.
“All correctable stuff,” Johnson said. “It’s all technique stuff. It’s not effort. It’s not talent. It’s all correctable technique stuff that he has to work on. Once he gets that, the sky is the limit for him.”
There is little doubt about that. Young is 6 feet 5 and 265 pounds with long arms. He is blessed with natural strength and agility. He already is pegged as a future high first-round draft pick.
“He’s very engaging,” Johnson said. “He loves the game and loves his teammates. He plays with a great deal of passion. He’s a competitor, and that’s what you want in a guy.”
Young acknowledged that he was nervous for the Penn State game, his first as a starter in a marquee game. But he also was motivated by its stakes and his desire to help fill the void left by Bosa. Young wore Bosa’s No. 97 on his wristband.
“I think it changed everybody on the unit’s mindset,” Young said of Bosa’s absence. “We had Nick down, the best player in college football. We knew we had to step up.”
Young did, and the expectation is that Saturday was just the beginning.