After COVID-19 outbreak last week, Ohio State football without multiple starters at Michigan State

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State players stretch in the south end zone before Saturday's game at Spartan Stadium.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ohio State was without three of its starting offensive linemen for Saturday’s game at Michigan State.

That included center Josh Myers, as well as left tackle Thayer Munford and right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere. Freshman Paris Johnson, a backup at right tackle, was also out, an absence that further reconfigured the Buckeyes’ starting offensive line against the Spartans.

Left guard Harry Miller slid over to center in order to replace Myers, while Matthew Jones filled in at the vacated guard spot. Sophomore Dawand Jones lined up at left tackle and third-year sophomore Max Wray was at right tackle.

It was the first career starts for Dawand Jones, Matthew Jones and Wray. Between Munford, Myers and Petit-Frere, the trio had a combined 53 career starts.

Three starters on Ohio State's offensive line — left tackle Thayer Munford (75), center Josh Myers (50) and right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere (78) — were not available for the Buckeyes' game at Michigan State.

A team spokesman said players who were listed as unavailable on the weekly status report could have been sidelined by injury, rehabilitation or illness.

But the size of the list, which included 23 unavailable players, was significantly larger than it was two weeks ago when the Buckeyes faced Indiana and had only eight players as unavailable.

The program saw a spike in coronavirus cases on the eve of Thanksgiving, prompting it to cancel its game at Illinois, after it had essentially none prior to last week, team physician Jim Borchers said. Ohio State did not say how many players had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

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Three assistant coaches did not travel with the team to East Lansing along with coach Ryan Day, including defensive co-coordinator Greg Mattison, quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis and special teams coach Matt Barnes, a team spokesman confirmed. No official reason was given for their absence. Day previously tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced last week and is out until at least Monday. 

Linebacker Tuf Borland, a three-time team captain and the third-leading tackler this season, was also unavailable, the biggest impact for the defense, though he was the only full-time defensive starter to miss the game against the Spartans. Defensive end Tyler Friday and safety Josh Proctor were also out. 

Players are required to sit out for 21 days after they test positive for COVID-19, according to protocols put in place by the Big Ten this season, and those who were in close contact with someone who tested positive are to isolate for 14 days, following previously in place Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

It is unclear if the CDC’s new recommendations this week, shorting the quarantine period for exposure to 7-10 days could impact players in the conference.

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Also unavailable were receivers Kamryn Babb, Mookie Cooper, Jaylen Harris and Gee Scott; defensive backs Cameron Brown, Cam Kittle, Alec Taylor and Kourt Williams; defensive linemen Jacolbe Cowan, Aaron Cox and Noah Potter; running back Marcus Crowley; tight ends Patrick Gurd and Joe Royer; quarterback Jagger Laroe; and long snapper Roen McCullough.

Brown, Cowan, Harris, McCullough and Williams had also been out in previous weeks.

Kicker Blake Haubeil returned for the Buckeyes after missing the previous two games with a groin injury that he sustained in an Oct. 31 win at Penn State.

In place of Haubeil, freshman Jake Seibert handled placekicking duties for both weeks. He made all seven of his extra-point attempts against Rutgers, but missed his first career field-goal attempt against Indiana, pushing a 44-yard try wide left.

Haubeil handled extra points and field goals, while Dominic DiMaccio did kickoffs.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman