A bye week affords Ohio State the chance to recover before returning to action against Indiana, and with several key contributors banged up, it comes at an opportune time.
Ryan Day provided updates on notable Buckeyes on both sides of the ball at Tuesday’s press conference, and the Ohio State head coach sounded optimistic that several players who missed the Maryland game or exited early will be back on the field come Oct. 23.
Redshirt freshman running back Miyan Williams, who has played in just one of the past four games for Ohio State, is one such Buckeye whose return to the practice field is expected to be imminent.
“I expect to have him back,” Day said. “Can’t get into specifics on it, but it was a couple weeks he was out there, and we plan to have him practicing this week.”
Williams started the first two games for Ohio State and ran for 202 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against Minnesota and Oregon. Since then, Williams has only seen reps against Akron on Sept. 25, a game in which he took nine carries for 47 yards.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native was listed as unavailable for each of the past two weeks and did not play in Ohio State’s Sept. 18 matchup with Tulsa even though he was not listed on the team’s status report beforehand.
“He seems to be doing well. I think he’s looking forward to getting back out there and getting to practicing and feeling better,” Day said. “So he needs to get back in the rhythm of practicing, and once you get healthy and get back on the field, you start to feel better. But until then, he probably wants to get going.”
On the other side of the ball, fourth-year cornerback Cameron Brown may not return as quickly to regular practice activities. Having already missed multiple games due to a lingering knee injury this season, Brown sustained a blow to the head on a tackle against Maryland that caused him to leave the game in the second quarter.
“I don’t know if he’ll practice this week,” Day said. “We’ll kind of go day-to-day and see how he’s feeling. He’s a guy who’s been playing, when he’s been out there, he’s done a good job. It’s just he’s had a hard time staying on the field and so hopefully this is just another bump in the road. But once he gets back, he’s a big part of our defense.”
Day said he’s hopeful Brown will be back for the Indiana matchup but that he’ll have a better idea about Brown’s status toward the middle of the week. Brown started opposite true freshman Denzel Burke against Oregon and Tulsa, but was listed as unavailable against Minnesota and Akron, and came off the bench in each of the past two games for Ohio State.
Senior cornerback Sevyn Banks, who missed the first two games of the season with injury, has started the past three games while Brown has been in and out of the lineup. Day stopped short of showering the team’s cornerback depth with praise on Tuesday.
“I feel solid about it. I don’t know if I can sit here and tell you I feel great about that right now,” Day said. “Midway through the season I think we’re better than we were six weeks ago, but overall, still looking for more consistency and more production from that spot.”
Two regular starters on the Ohio State defensive line are also on the mend, after senior defensive end Tyreke Smith has missed the past three games – though he was able to go through warmups before the Maryland game – and fifth-year defensive tackle Haskell Garrett left the Maryland game with an apparent leg injury.
“We need those veteran guys to play well for us in the second half of the season. Looking forward to getting Tyreke (Smith) back, making sure we get through this week with Haskell (Garrett) and hopefully get him back next week,” Day said. “Any time you make a run here in October or November, you need your veteran players to play veteran. I think we’ve created some depth there, which has been good. But you know the expectation here on the D-line, so looking forward to see that progress being made.”
Already halfway through the regular season, Ohio State now has an extra week to get healthy before diving into the back half of Big Ten play in 2021.