Next man up.
It’s been the mentality of the defensive line, with the loss of junior All-American defensive end Nick Bosa for the rest of the season. The Ohio State secondary has needed the phrase as well, with redshirt junior cornerback Damon Arnette failing to make the trip to Purdue last Saturday because of injury.
Now, that phrase has made its way to the offense.
Junior wide receiver Austin Mack suffered a foot injury in the second half of Saturday’s 49-20 loss to Purdue. On his weekly radio show, head coach Urban Meyer called Mack’s ailment a “fluke injury,” saying it was a non-contact injury and he was “twisted wrong on the field.”
However, Meyer did give some hope, saying Mack could be back in time for postseason play.
But moving forward, it’s back to the “next man up” mentality.
In Mack’s absence, junior wide receiver Binjimen Victor will take the majority of his snaps in his place. Through eight games, Victor has 236 yards on 14 catches, recording three touchdown receptions.
Even though Ohio State has older depth at the wide receiver position, with redshirt senior wide receivers Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin splitting time at the other receiver slot, offensive coordinator Ryan Day said its Victor’s time to shine.
“Ben’s got to step up and he’s now got to mature into a role where he’s going to be the starter over there,” Day said.
However, that does not mean that McLaurin and DIxon will not be there to help in terms of picking up Mack’s production. Day said Ohio State has older players that know the offensive system very well, saying he will move some guys around if necessary.
But Victor is not the only one with a statement to make in the absence of Mack.
After recording two catches for 27 yards in three games during his true freshman season, now-sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Harris, a former four-star prospect, will have increased playing time with Mack shelved.
Day called Mack’s injury Harris’ time to step up, calling for more from the Cleveland native. In four games this season, Harris has recorded two catches for 22 yards, bringing in one 16-yard catch against Oregon State.
Meyer said Mack’s injury will also give freshman wide receiver Chris Olave, who has recorded two catches for 14 yards this season, an opportunity to get more playing time as well.
However, make no mistake, Day and Meyer both agree that Victor is a starting receiver as Mack gets healthy. This is something Victor has been striving for ever since he got to Ohio State.
Victor has shown it in bursts, bringing in two catches for 55 yards and a touchdown against Penn State and five catches for 67 yards against Purdue.
After the 2018 Spring Game, Meyer highlighted the expectation he had of Victor going into the fall.
“That’s one of the most talented receivers we have ever had,” Meyer said. “It’s consistency and the fight in those kind of things because when he does, it’s fun to watch.”
Now, Victor is not the next man up. He is the man.