Ohio State football’s offense could receive big boost against Wisconsin on Saturday

Published Oct. 24, 2023, 12:35 p.m.
By Nathan Baird, cleveland.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With Emeka Egbuka unavailable the past two weeks, Ohio State football’s Marvin Harrison Jr. stepped in with a career-best performance.
The Buckeyes did not rip through Penn State’s highly ranked defense in their 20-12 victory. The running game plodded a times. Quarterback Kyle McCord’s accuracy wavered for stretches.
However, the performance the past two weeks without Egbuka has reminded people of what the offense could do once fully healthy again. Day included Egbuka in a group of previously injured starters who he is “expecting to have a great week of practice” and play Saturday at Wisconsin. He also expects running back TreVeyon Henderson to return from a three-game absence.
Egbuka totaled 303 yards and three touchdowns on 22 receptions over the first five games. That included 96 yards on seven receptions in a 17-14 win at Notre Dame, stepping up when Harrison was limited by an ankle injury and the Irish’s coverage scheme.
Egbuka’s impact in the offense, though, transcends merely being a pass-catcher. Ohio State likes to use him on jet sweeps and other wrinkles in either the run game or the extended run game via screen passes. He also has grown into a sturdy 6-foot-1, 206-pound frame who can play physically against other defensive backs.
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He also is the team’s top punt returner and earlier in his career flashed big-return potential. That opportunity has always loomed if the Buckeyes set up the correct blocking on a future attempt.
Ohio State saw last season how a lingering injury for a star receiver interrupted the offensive flow. It had to regroup on the fly when Jaxon Smith-Njigba suffered a hamstring injury on opening night that never progressed enough for him to really contribute.
A healthy Egbuka adds another dimension to the offense. Day is optimistic that dimension will return soon.

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