Backup running back Daniel "Boom" Herron will not play, nor will receiver Dane Sanzenbacher after both players suffered concussions last Saturday night in Ohio State's 20-17 win at Wisconsin.
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel announced that Tuesday, but Thursday he added the name of Ray Small – who shares the No. 3 receiver role with Sanzenbacher – to the list of possible bystanders this weekend.
Small is battling a knee injury that will be reevaluated after practice Thursday afternoon, and Tressel labeled him questionable beforehand.
The status of Sanzenbacher and Small puts an onus on DeVier Posey and Lamaar Thomas, two promising true freshmen, to be ready to perform.
Posey has played quite a bit since the start of the season and was on the field for the Buckeyes' winning touchdown in Madison, while Thomas has been seen a bit more sparingly, and Tressel is happy with the progression of both of them.
"I think they're both coming along," he said. "I really do."
Thomas could be much busier than usual. Not only are his reps at wide receiver likely to increase, but the Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly product figures to asked to return kicks as well.
There he will join senior running back Maurice Wells in replacing Herron, who normally shares kickoff return duties with sophomore running back Brandon Saine.
Saine and Wells both figure to be called upon more frequently in the Ohio State backfield, too, with Herron not there to backup Chris "Beanie" Wells, who will play his third game after returning from a right foot injury.
"Both Mo Wells and Brandon Saine have to really step up this week," Tressel said. "Chris Wells I think is getting healthier. I thought that was the healthiest he's looked Saturday night. He had a little bout with the flu this week, so hopefully that day's rest because of the flu will help the foot even more.
"With Beanie, now we're hoping that he's a 20-plus-carry guy. That would be a goal, but Mo and Brandon particularly this week have to be ready to go."
Blocking for all the running backs should be a combination of the same six offensive linemen who handled the work last week, including Alex Boone at left tackle, Jim Cordle at left guard and Michael Brewster at center.
Former left guard Steve Rehring continues to get healthier after missing two games with a foot injury, and he will continue to work back into the rotation on the right side, sharing guard and tackle duties with Ben Person and Bryant Browning.
"I'm not sure exactly what permanent is, but for the moment it looks like that's our best combination," Tressel said. "You wouldn't have thought maybe that a true freshman was going to be the guy for that spot because of all that it entails, but he's done a good job."
The starting lineup should be the same it was the last couple of weeks, but some different faces - such as freshman Lamaar Thomas - will be called upon to provide depth at some key offensive positions Saturday when No. 12 Ohio State plays host to Purdue at Ohio Stadium.