After serving a two-game suspension for accepting a loan from a family friend, star junior defensive end Chase Young is back for Ohio State this weekend. Throw in the Buckeyes' bye week on November 2nd and it will have basically been a month since Young has played a game when he suits up for Saturday. Ohio State is loaded with talent, but no player on the defensive side of the ball stands out quite like Young. Prior to the suspension, his name was starting to surface as a Heisman Trophy contender so needless to say, the Penn State offensive line will have their hands full on Saturday.
In just eight games this season, Young's stats look like something out of a video game. He has 15.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks and in his thirty career games, he has amassed 27.5 sacks. Against Wisconsin, Young catapulted him into the Heisman discussion when he had six tackles of which five were for loss, with four sacks and two forced fumbles. On Wednesday, Young was named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. He's no stranger to the Nittany Lions, either, as he made the game-winning tackle last season after blowing up the ill-fated 4th-and-5 call RPO. In the game last season, Young has three tackles for loss including two sacks. He's projected as a top pick and is listed No. 1 on ESPN's Todd McShay's Big Board.
It's not at all a stretch to call him the very best player in all of college football.
So the question for Penn State, then, is how do you stop a guy like that? Head coach James Franklin was asked game planning around the Buckeye star and said, "Yeah, obviously Chase is going to make plays. That's going to happen. We need to limit the impact that he has in the game."
That's much easier said than done, but Sean Clifford will need to be aware of him at all times as he runs the RPO. The Nittany Lions are heavy underdogs heading into Columbus and if they are going to pull off the upset, they will need to be able to make sure that Young isn't able to single-handedly turn the tide of the game. That means that this Penn State offensive line, which seems to finally be taking real strides toward becoming a dominant unit, needs to minimize Young's impact on both the passing game and the running game.
Whether that means double-teaming him or chip blocking him, Ricky Rahne and Matt Limgrover must find ways to keep Young from taking over the game.