Faced with the gargantuan task of stifling the Ohio State offense, Rutgers will be missing one of their top cornerbacks for Saturday’s game.
An improbable task for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights just became even harder.
According to NJ Advance Media’s Keith Sargeant, cornerback Blessuan Austin will not be available for Saturday’s showdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN). Ranked fourth in the latest Associated Press poll, the Buckeyes will now face a Rutgers defense missing one of its strongest defenders.
“Right now, Bless will be inactive for this game,” head coach Chris Ash said on Thursday, according to Sargeant. “He obviously was taken off the field and was removed from game one. Some precautionary stuff that we’re going through, some things we’re looking at to try to find out exactly what happened to him. But he will be inactive for this game, and it will be a week-to-week deal from there until we get some opinions from some doctors on looking at his knee.”
Austin, a senior from Queens, burst onto the scene with a strong sophomore season, picking up 43 tackles and 14 pass deflections, the latter stat ranking second in the Big Ten. The follow-up, however, was cut short with a torn ACL injury, suffered in a September game against Nebraska. This latest ailment was suffered in Rutgers’ 2018 season opener, a 35-7 win over Texas State.
Having earned an interception, the fourth of his career and one of three Scarlet Knight takeaways on the afternoon, Austin walked off the field gingerly, assisted by trainers as he left. He did not return to the game.
True freshman Avery Young, one of 15 freshmen to partake in the Texas State game, took over and earned praise from Ash after the game.
“I think Avery did a great job,” Ash said in his postgame press conference. “He was all over the field as a true freshman. (I) absolutely love the kid. You talk about an A-plus individual, he’s got it all. He’s going to be a star here, and really fired up for him, what he did today in his first game.”
Young is going to have his work cut out for him, going up against an Ohio State team that crushed Oregon State in a one-sided 77-31 affair on Saturday. The Buckeyes put up 721 yards of offense, including 346 through the air. The Coatesville, PA native had two tackles and took some fourth downs as a punt returner as well.
“I worked hard for this. I like to think that I earned it and earned the right to take as many snaps as I did today,” Young said of his first collegiate action. Speaking about the aftermath of Austin’s injury, Young said “I told him I would pick it up for him. I knew he was going to be all right, so I was just holding down the fort for him.”
Austin may not be the only Scarlet Knight defender missing on Saturday. According to James Kratch, also of NJ Advance Media, fellow defensive backs Tre Avery and Kiy Hester will each be game-time decisions.
Ohio State has won all four Big Ten meetings against Rutgers thus far, outscoring the Knights 219-24 over that quartet.