Ohio State Football: Who could step up in JSN’s absence?

Jaxon Smith-Njigba celebrating Rose Bowl touchdown.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba celebrating Rose Bowl touchdown.

Ohio State football team star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba left the Notre Dame game with a hamstring injury. Per OSU, he is listed as a game time decision on the pregame availability report. If he is unable to go, who could step up in his absence?

Saturday night wasn’t what many envisioned for Ohio State and Notre Dame, as the Buckeyes stifled the Irish 21-10. However, this game left a majority of the country more impressed than if the offense had produced it’s usual fireworks and pumped out another 40+ point performance. The offense losing Jaxon Smith-Njigba early on in the game clearly had them out of sync. Even when he was able to come back, he was limping through the routes.

So the Buckeyes had to find out just how tough they had gotten since last years questions on just that- toughness. They pounded the ball with Henderson and Williams throughout the rest of the night and with help but a stifling defensive performance, this was en route to a double-digit win.

This was a very positive sign as the as the recipe for beating OSU the last two seasons has become all too simple against teams of a higher caliber. Now that they have proved that they can handily win games playing a smash mouth brand of football, it would seem to be the missing piece for a championship run.

Next Man Up

With that being said, the receiving corps will have plenty to prove during the next week or two as JSN will be resting a hamstring injury. Emeka Egbuka was the clear standout in the ND game along with some weight being pulled by Cade Stover which came to the surprise of many.

However, short of a pair of nice plays by Xavier Johnson and Miyan Williams, there wasn’t another receiver who stepped up to take the pressure off Stroud. Yes, it was a great sign to see the offense win a game with a ground and pound style, but there’s no doubt that this team is at its peak when Stroud can find his rhythm in distributing the ball around the field. 

Julian Fleming is long overdue to make an impact in this offense. His status has been constantly questionable, but there’s no doubt that if he can stay on the field these next two weeks that he will have the opportunity to show why he was such a highly touted recruit.

Marvin Harrison Jr had a flurry of receptions  but certainly didn’t make the impact most would’ve anticipated he would with JSN absent. Harrison will be a highlight reel with time and targets, he should be less of a worry than Fleming at the moment. Ultimately, I would look for these two to take a big leap forward to contribution in the next two weeks and possibly thereafter.