OSU tight end Berry gets time on defensive line

Bill Rabinowitz,Joey Kaufman
Ohio State kicker Blake Haubeil is excited about the Buckeyes' successful onside kick during the first quarter Saturday. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

Rashod Berry’s lobbying to see time at defensive end again began long before the past week.

“Honestly, I've been going to the coaches since the beginning of the summer asking to let me try it out, let me go over there,” Berry said.

The fifth-year senior from Lorain began his career on defense before switching to tight end. He’s part of a rotation at that position this season with Luke Farrell, Jeremy Ruckert and Jake Hausmann.

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But with Chase Young being held out Saturday and Jonathon Cooper out as he tries to recover from ankle surgery, coaches were more receptive when Berry approached them again.

Berry played on both sides of the ball Saturday in a 73-14 win over Maryland, playing defense on third downs.

“He's been working with us all week,” said nose guard DaVon Hamilton, who had two sacks on Saturday. “We went through all the blitzes with him, all the different things that could happen. He responded really well.”

Berry didn’t get on the stat sheet as a defensive player, but coach Ryan Day was pleased with what he saw.

“He flashed a couple times,” he said. “He’s very talented, and moving forward, we’re going to try to maybe use him in different spots.”

Berry will be all for it. He said playing defensive end is natural to him.

“It felt amazing,” Berry said. “I missed it. I'm not going to lie. I did.”

With the status of Young and Cooper uncertain for future games, Berry could find two-way duty a regular thing.

“They knew I could do it,” he said. “I just had to prove it again, and I did.”

Film study pays off

During the week, Day downplayed any advantage Ohio State might have in the kicking game because it has Matt Barnes as its special-teams coordinator. Barnes had that role with Maryland last year.

Turned out that Day might have been concealing something, as Day hinted at when describing the perfect pooched onside kick by Blake Haubeil caught by Chris Olave with the Buckeyes ahead 14-0 in the first quarter.

“There was something that we saw on film — Matt Barnes saw — and we thought we had a real shot at it,” Day said. “The guys practiced it during the week. It wasn’t one of those things that was a home run every time we did it. But you talk about competitive excellence — that couldn’t have been executed any better. That was as clean as it could be. It was cool to feel the excitement about that kick. It was like, wow.”

Backup backs earn notice

Running back Master Teague has often carried the load during the second half of games as the Buckeyes rested most of their starters amid blowout victories.

They have won all nine games this season by 24 or more points.

Teague saw even more work against the Terrapins. He ran for a career-high 111 yards on 18 carries, also the most in his college career.

The effort extended his season total to 699 rushing yards, and he has a chance to reach 1,000 yards, potentially giving the Buckeyes their second 1,000-yard rusher this season. J.K. Dobbins achieved the feat last month.

Other Ohio State running backs had notable performances in the fourth quarter. Freshman Marcus Crowley earned his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the quarter. Demario McCall, a redshirt junior, had his first multi-touchdown game when he ran for two scores late in the quarter.

Wrapping up

Backup quarterback Chris Chugonov completed 8 of 11 passes for a touchdown in place of Fields in the second half. It was the first time that Chugonov has thrown for more than 100 yards. He has replaced Fields at some point in the second half in eight of the nine games this season. … Ohio State’s game Saturday at Rutgers will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network after the Buckeyes had played consecutive noon games. Their final games, against Penn State on Nov. 23 and at Michigan on Nov. 30, are also at noon.

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