What does Ohio State have when you take away Chase Young and his 13.5 sacks?
Against Maryland, the chance for everyone else to get in on the action.
Five Ohio State defenders entered Saturday with two or more sacks, but by game’s end, five had recorded sacks against Maryland alone, with two players boasting multiple.
Maryland’s dual-quarterback system accounted for zero passing yards through a quarter, and with four completions each for the game, redshirt junior Josh Jackson and junior Tyrell Pigrome combined for just one more completion than Ohio State had sacks.
“They all wanted to show they’re a team, this is a defense, and this is a defensive line unit, more than just one person,” head coach Ryan Day said. “And I think they had their chests out and were proud of the way they played today, and they should have.”
Though five-star true freshman defensive end Zach Harrison and sophomore Tyreke Smith started in place of Young and hobbled senior Jonathon Cooper, it was the veteran presence of redshirt senior defensive tackle Davon Hamilton that set the tone for the pass rush.
Hamilton recorded just one sack in his five seasons in the program heading into the Wisconsin game. After the first half Saturday, he’d have three in the past two contests.
“I was always confident in myself before, but now that I have the opportunity to showcase my abilities, I really think I’m taking advantage,” Hamilton said.
On Maryland’s first pass attempt of the game, Hamilton slipped into the backfield, averted biting on the play-action fake, and dropped redshirt junior quarterback Josh Jackson for a loss of five.
The Terrapins switched over to junior quarterback Tyrell Pigrome in the second quarter following Jackson’s 1-for-3 performance, but the result was the same.
Hamilton found himself on top of the other Maryland passer late in the first half, as Pigrome crumpled under the encroaching presence of the 310-pound tackle.
“I think [defensive line coach Larry Johnson] has done a great job with Davon, his development over his career here. But he’s one of the most improved guys on our team and was in the offseason, and now he’s playing like that,” Day said. “It’s great to see a guy who has developed and having great success.”
Just three plays earlier, Smith got into the act, recording his second sack of the season as he broke free to chase down Pigrome on a rollout to his right.
Ohio State would make it three on the same drive, as senior linebacker Malik Harrison received credit for a sack on a third-down intentional grounding call on Pigrome.
Harrison’s running mate had beaten him to the punch earlier, as Borland picked up the first sack of his season on a blitz up the middle in the first quarter to force another Maryland punt.
Maryland’s passing attack entered at a mediocre No. 99 in the nation with 200 yards per game, but it couldn’t muster 50 in the first 30 minutes against the Buckeyes, ending the half with as many completions as Ohio State sacks.
Not even the run game, which chewed up 340 yards against Ohio State a season ago, could bail out the shell-shocked Terrapin pass attack. Maryland ran for 24 yards in the first half, including just seven yards on five carries from redshirt sophomore running back Anthony McFarland. McFarland had 298 on the Buckeyes in 2018.
With the backups in late in the third, Zach Harrison finally found his target, tossing Jackson to the ground for a loss of six yards.
“To be completely honest with you, coming in I didn’t think I was ever gonna have the chance to start,” Harrison said.
Harrison and the Buckeye defense made the most of its chance to prove its mettle without Young Saturday, but with no update on a timeframe for his return, it likely won’t be the last time.