Buckeyes go back to Mack after drops
There was a moment midway through the first half of Ohio State’s 40-28 win over TCU on Saturday night when receiver Austin Mack was seen looking at his hands.
They just weren’t working with the same gripping power as they had been at the start of the game, when he made a spectacular 48-yard catch from Dwayne Haskins Jr. to the TCU 2-yard line. The first indication came three plays later when a laser from Haskins bounced off Mack’s hands in the back of the end zone and the Buckeyes had to settle for a field goal.
In the second half, when catches were vital as the Buckeyes rallied, Mack delivered some. In between there were at least three notable drops, but just as notable was the coaching staff’s decision to keep him in the game.
“You have to play through things sometimes, and that’s what he did,” receivers coach Brian Hartline said.
Acting head coach Ryan Day concurred. Mack didn’t have the memorable catches of K.J. Hill (six for 95 yards, including a first down on third-and-long and a TD catch) and Parris Campbell (a 63-yard screen play for a TD), but the fact he made four for 84 yards told a story of perseverance.
“Austin is usually a reliable guy, and the big thing we talked about going into the game was … that this was going to be a fight, and when you get into a fight, sometimes you get hit,” Day said. “And when you get hit, you can’t flinch.
“(That’s why) we kept putting Austin back in there. We believe in our guys. We know what we see every day in practice … and when things don’t go well, we’ve got to stick together.”
That was Haskins’ approach. He is Mack's roommate. When Haskins threw his first meaningful pass in a game, last season at Michigan, Mack went up and got it to put that rally to victory in motion. Haskins had a career-high 344 yards passing against TCU, and obviously Mack was attached to a large chunk of that.
“We are really close, so I was just saying, ‘Look, play! If you mess up, I’m going to keep coming to you,’ ” Haskins said. “It was hard for him having those drops like that in key moments in the game, but he kept pushing. And I relied on him again in big moments and he came through for me.”
Defensive end Nick Bosa was to have undergone an MRI on his injured left hip/abdominal area on Sunday, but results likely won’t be revealed until Monday. He left the game at 13:45 of the third quarter.
The injury, if serious, could have long-term implications for the Buckeyes and even the 2019 NFL draft. The junior is expected to leave after this season and has been projected among the top three picks. Before the injury, Bosa’s hit on TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson caused a fumble into the end zone that was recovered by Davon Hamilton for the Buckeyes’ first touchdown.