The Ohio State football team will need all hands on deck in order to beat Penn State on Saturday. The status of Denzel Burke looms large.
The Ohio State football team has been hit hard with the injury bug recently. The status of the Buckeyes’ top three running backs is up in the air for the game against Penn State this weekend as is star receiver Emeka Egbuka. But it’s the availability of a certain Ohio State defender that should keep head coach Ryan Day up at night.
Lockdown cornerback Denzel Burke’s status is completely up in the air for this game, and that could loom large as Drew Allar and Penn State invade Columbus this Saturday.
Burke has arguably been the Buckeyes’ best player on defense and losing him could play a large part in whether or not Penn State can actually push the ball downfield this weekend. If Burke can’t go, true freshman Jermaine Matthews might get the nod in his place.
Matthews stepped in for Burke when he went down against Purdue and performed admirably. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles liked what Matthews brought when called upon, saying this via Eleven Warriors:
"“For a true freshman, he’s got a lot of guts, got a lot of moxie,” Knowles said. “He’s just talented and he’s shown the ability to make plays, so we’re confident putting him in there.”"
Having Matthews step up and be ready at such a young point in his development is huge for this Buckeye defense. It would allow nickel corner Jordan Hancock to stay in his role and not have to move to the outside. But if Matthews is indeed called upon, he will not exactly be going up against a team like Purdue this week.
Penn State and quarterback Drew Allar will try and test Matthews. I believe we will find out rather quickly in the game if he’s up to the challenge or not. But make no mistake about it, not having Denzel Burke on Saturday would be a monster loss for this defense.
Hopefully, for the Buckeyes’ sake, he’s ready to go. If not they more than likely will be dependent upon a true freshman in its biggest game of the season to date.