Injuries have forced juggling on Ohio State’s defensive line for the season opener Saturday against Florida Atlantic.
Ohio State released its first injury report and depth chart Friday morning, and starting defensive end Jonathon Cooper was listed as unavailable for Saturday. Cooper’s status was not a surprise. He reportedly injured an ankle toward the end of training camp, though Ohio State has not confirmed the nature of the injury.
Also listed as out was defensive tackle Taron Vincent, who’s one of the players in position coach Larry Johnson’s rotation. In addition, backup ends Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday are listed as game-time decisions.
Under new coach Ryan Day, the Buckeyes have adopted a policy in which they will not reveal specifics of injuries, citing player privacy concerns. Athletic director Gene Smith recently said the program divulged more information about injuries than it should have in past years.
Cooper, a Gahanna native, is one of seven Buckeye captains. He started 13 games last year with 25 tackles and 6½ for loss, including 2½ sacks.
“Coop will be back soon,” nose tackle Robert Landers said Tuesday. “It’s one of those things where we’re just kind of taking it day by day and he’s taking it day by day. He’s one of the biggest influences and leaders in our room, so until he’s back in action, it’s the next man up. Guys all the way across the board have to try to fill a void from him not being there.”
The depleted depth at defensive end caused the Buckeyes to move Jashon Cornell from the three-technique tackle spot to the end position opposite Chase Young. Cornell, a fifth-year senior, has played tackle and end. Davon Hamilton, who was expected to be the starter at nose tackle, is listed as the starting tackle at Cornell’s prior spot. Landers and Tommy Togiai are listed as co-starters at nose tackle.
Ten other players were listed as unavailable, including tight end Rashod Berry and hybrid receiver C.J. Saunders. Berry is part of a deep tight end group. Luke Farrell is the starter with Jeremy Ruckert and Jake Hausmann as his backups. Saunders is a former walk-on recently named a captain.
The other player listed on the game-time decision list is a significant one — running back Demario McCall.
A fourth-year junior hampered by injuries during his career, McCall had recently been named the top backup to J.K. Dobbins. He ran eight times for 50 yards last year and caught nine passes for 110 yards. If he can’t play, redshirt freshman Master Teague III, who was injured for part of camp, and true freshmen Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers might have to take on a larger role.
Outside linebackers Malik Harrison and Pete Werner were listed as starters. At middle linebacker, Tuf Borland and Baron Browning were listed as co-starters. Austin Mack, who was injured for part of training camp, is listed as a co-starter with Chris Olave at the “Z” receiver position. Binjimen Victor is the starter at the “X” receiver position.
Quarterbacks Gunnar Hoak and Chris Chugunov are listed as co-backups behind Justin Fields.
The other players listed as unavailable for Saturday were receiver Kamryn Babb, defensive tackle Noah Donald, safety Owen Fankhouser, tight end Cormontae Hamilton, safety Ronnie Hickman, linebacker Justin Hilliard, cornerback Lloyd McFarquhar and defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie.