Ohio State might enter the Missouri game without the presence of the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year.

Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles mentioned uncertainty about senior Tommy Eichenberg’s availability against the Tigers, including the challenge of defending All-American running back Cody Schrader.

On a positive note, they have a viable substitute for Eichenberg in Cody Simon, a senior planning to return for the next season. Simon has made an impact this season, sharing playing time with Steele Chambers and stepping in for Eichenberg during previous matches against Minnesota and Michigan State following Eichenberg’s initial arm injury at Rutgers.

Knowles praised Simon’s understanding of the game and described him as someone who could be a starter anywhere in the country, emphasizing Simon’s importance to the defense.

The potential absence of linebackers could provide an opportunity for C.J. Hicks to see more playing time, although Knowles hinted that the sophomore from Alter High School might have a more significant role in 2024. Despite Hicks primarily contributing on special teams in all 12 games, Knowles acknowledged his incredible talent and speed, expressing a desire to find the right place for Hicks to excel, especially with the departure of Tommy and Steele.

Knowles highlighted his intention to devote time in the offseason to develop Hicks’ potential and create strategies around him, emphasizing the need for Hicks to play freely and showcase his versatility on the field.

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