Ohio State will be without two major pieces of its secondary against Rutgers on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Starting safety Lathan Ransom has been officially ruled out, as expected.
- Corner Denzel Burke is also out, according to the Ohio State availability report.
- It’s the second game in three weeks that Burke has missed.
Secondary depth will be tested
Ransom’s absence was expected. The expectation was that Sonny Styles would move to bandit safety and corner Jordan Hancock would play at nickel. That’s a good combo because both have experience there and have been tested. Now, with Burke out, that might change.
The simple answer is to keep things the same and put freshman Jermaine Mathews Jr., outside in the place of Burke.
Mathews was terrific in his time filling in for Burke against Penn State but he didn’t play every snap outside. Hancock moved out there, as well. If that happens Saturday, that means Ohio State will need somebody to fill in at nickel, which brings Cameron Martinez into the fold.
Ohio State could choose to do a few different things but Martinez was already expected to see more time on the field and this makes him even more crucial. He’s played limited snaps this season because he’s been hurt but also hasn’t been great in coverage. He gave up a 36-yard pass against Youngstown State, which is still the longest pass play allowed this year for Ohio State. Ohio State will need Martinez at the top of his game if the Buckeyes turn to him.
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