Quarterback Justin Fields said he feels bad for Ohio State’s opponents.
In practices, he has faced Chase Young, the Buckeyes’ seemingly unblockable pass rusher. Though wearing a black no-contact jersey, Fields can relate to the feeling of sitting in a pocket, with Young barreling across the line of scrimmage.
“He can get back there pretty much whenever he wants,” Fields said.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
Then he smiled in appreciation of his circumstances. The matchups against Young aren't ones he would like to face for real.
“I'm just glad he's on my team,” Fields said.
Young wreaked havoc Saturday. As the Buckeyes thumped Wisconsin 38-7, he had four sacks, tying an Ohio State record, along with five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
It was arguably his best performance, and it came against a team known for its physical linemen. All five of the Badgers’ starters up front weighed at least 310 pounds. He tormented them like everyone else, inviting a parade of praises from teammates and coaches.
Coach Ryan Day called him “probably the most dominant player in all of college football now.”
Fields referred to him as “probably the best defensive player in the country.”
“That guy's incredible,” added Justin Hilliard, who was lined up as a linebacker behind Young. “It makes football so much easier when you have a guy who can get to the quarterback in less than two seconds.”
LeBron James even tweeted in admiration.
Chase Young stop it man!! Absolute MONSTER!! Matter of fact don’t listen to me, keep going Young #GoBucks— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 26, 2019
In some moments, Young overpowered Wisconsin’s linemen. Before he picked up his first sack late in the first quarter, he faced a double-team, spun around, then found himself on top of Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan, bringing him to the turf.
His second sack saw him shoving left tackle Cole Van Lanen to the side as he stormed toward Coan.
Day, a former quarterback at New Hampshire, knew how much of a challenge Coan was facing.
“It's real hard,” Day said. “You start to feel ghosts and see ghosts, especially when he's on your backside. Are you getting the ball out fast enough?”
But Young did more than outmuscle the Badgers’ offensive line.
Ohio State’s defensive coaches had him line up at various spots. On the first series, Young was featured on both ends of the defensive line, and the trend continued throughout the game. He was even used as a stand-up pass rusher, at times looking as if he were a middle linebacker.
“We're going to have to start moving him around and being more creative,” said Jeff Hafley, the Buckeyes’ defensive co-coordinator, “because everybody knows who he is, right?”
Hafley observed that teams would adjust their protections in his direction if he had a consistent spot.
“If we always line him up to the left, they can slide to him, they can chip him,” Hafley said. “If we line him up to the right, they can slide to him, put the back on him and chip him. But if we start moving him around a little bit, we can kind of put him where we want him, and then we have to make them adjust.”