COLUMBUS, Ohio — Offensive guard Demetrius Knox broke his foot for the second time in his career and had surgery on Friday that will cost him the rest of the 2016 season.
The injury happened during practice Thursday.
That could end up being a big blow for the Buckeyes, if more attrition occurs along the offensive line, as season-ending injuries to Knox and offensive tackle Malcolm Pridgeon have now cost the Buckeyes arguably their most important backups at guard and tackle.
Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said during fall practice that the depth at guard was better than he had anticipated with the emergence of true freshman Michael Jordan as a starter-caliber player and the talent that Knox and offensive guard Matthew Burrell had also shown. The loss of Knox means a true freshman could be thrust into the two deep lineup.
Burrell, who showed in high school that he could play all five line positions, would almost certainly be the next man up at either left or right guard. Since Ohio State only lists players as backups at one spot, however, it’s likely that the injury will vault either true freshman Tyler Gerald or true freshman Gavin Cupp into the depth chart.
Prior to the season, Gerald was fighting his way into the rotation and had a lead over Cupp in the eyes of the Ohio State coaches.
“Tyler Gerald is really coming along, running with the twos now for a little bit,” Studrawa said. “Gavin Cupp is a little bit with the twos, but he’s a little further along than Tyler is right now, but I’d say Tyler is in that two-deep battle right now.”
Here’s what Ohio State’s depth chart should look like for Saturday’s game against Rutgers:
The biggest impact of Knox’s injury is making a young offensive line even younger. Replacing a third-year sophomore with a true freshman gives the Buckeyes even less margin for error in terms of injuries or dropoff in play. Coach Urban Meyer is already starting a true freshman for just the second time in his career – the first was when Maurkice Pouncey started at center for Florida in 2007 – and the backup spots are almost exclusively filled with sophomores and freshmen who have rarely or never played.
It’s not a backbreaking injury because Ohio State’s starters comprise one of the most talented units in the country, but the need for them to stay healthy and stay in form just became even greater.