Ohio State will make its first trip to Nebraska for a football game with some changes in the depth chart for Saturday night.
Mike Adams, a senior offensive lineman, is listed as the starter at left tackle, a position he held down last season while earning All-Big Ten honors.
Andrew Norwell, a sophomore who started Ohio State’s first five games this season at left tackle while Adams served a five-game NCAA suspension, will slide to left guard and remain in the starting lineup, but the player Norwell is replacing there is not headed to the bench.
Sophomore Jack Mewhort is listed as the starter at right guard this week after holding down the left guard position so far this season. He replaces classmate Marcus Hall, who is suspended for an NCAA issue separate from Adams’.
The depth chart also is missing Verlon Reed, a redshirt freshman split end who tore ligaments in his right knee in the final seconds of the Buckeyes’ 10-7 loss to Michigan State last Saturday and will miss the rest of the season. In his place, true freshman Evan Spencer and redshirt freshman T.Y. Williams are listed as co-starters.
The receiving corps could receive a boost this week with the return of sophomore Philly Brown, who has been out since spraining an ankle against Toledo on Sept. 10. Head coach Luke Fickell said Brown will practice this week and his status will be re-evaluated.
“We’ll see how Philly runs around out there today,” Fickell said. “Hopefully he’ll be all right. That’s what we were expecting, a Nebraska return. We don’t know for sure on that.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes will continue to be without Nathan Williams, a senior defensive end who has missed four games since having arthroscopic knee surgery Sept. 7.
“I would probably say I would doubt it from what I saw on Sunday,” Fickell said. “Things can change, but he doesn’t look good.”
No new information was provided about the latest NCAA incident to hit the program, a scandal involving Hall, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Melvin Fellows and Etienne Sabino receiving more pay than they were due for work done for a Cleveland-area construction company over the past three years.
Fickell said the long-term team status of Herron and Posey is not in doubt despite being found guilty of their second violation of NCAA regulations.
Both were already required to miss the first five games of the season for breaking NCAA rules along with Adams, defensive end Solomon Thomas and former OSU players Terrelle Pryor and Dorian Bell.
“This is still something that’s ongoing, and I don’t have all the information that they’re going through just as of yet, but I have not seen anything that you wouldn't want a guy around right now,” Fickell said.
Thomas is eligible to return this week, but the senior may not be able to as he continues to recover from a broken leg suffered in April during the team’s spring game.
He would be Williams’ backup, but with the two seniors sidelined, Ohio State has filled the position with a combination of junior Johnny Simon and freshmen J.T. Moore and Steve Miller.
Simon has gotten the majority of the playing time in the Buckeyes’ base and nickel defenses while the youngsters have played in the dime defense.
No change has been made at quarterback, where freshman Braxton Miller is still expected to start against the Cornhuskers. He was benched in favor of senior Joe Bauserman late against the Spartans after struggling to handle the relentless pressure of the MSU defense.
He said there will not be a quick hook on Miller if he struggles early.
“We don’t want a guy thinking that by any means,” Fickell said. “We told them both we’re probably going to need both of them. How are we going to do that? I don’t know. Braxton is the guy who right now is our starting quarterback.”
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