COLUMBUS – Buckeye Nation held its collective breath when Jaxon Smith-Njigba came out of Saturday night’s game for the Buckeyes against Notre Dame and the worry started when nobody was quite sure what his status would be moving forward.
Head coach Ryan Day put some of those fears to rest by announcing it was ‘not a long-term thing” and that the Ohio State wideout could be back sooner rather than later as the Buckeyes get ready for their second game, a home date against Arkansas State.
Day would not go as far as announcing what happened to Smith-Njigba early in the game when Notre Dame safety Brandon Joseph hit the Ohio State wideout near the Ohio State sideline. JSN would leave the game, go to the injury attempt and attempt to return on a couple of occasions but eventually left the game in the second half and was visibly upset that he was unable to go.
“Hoping to have him back this Saturday,” Day said on a Monday afternoon appearance on the Big Ten Network. ”Having him as part of our offense is a big deal. He makes such an impact and not too many guys you can say at the wide receiver position makes everyone else better. Jaxon does.”
Smith-Njigba led the Buckeyes in both receptions and yards last season but against Notre Dame, in limited action, only had two receptions for three yards as the Ohio State offense was held to an uncharacteristic output of just 21 points against the No. 5 Fighting Irish.
Emeka Egbuka had a big night with nine receptions for 90 yards, including his first receiving touchdown as a member of the Buckeyes. Marvin Harrison Jr. would get off to a slow start but would eventually have five catches for 56 yards. Former walk-on Xavier Johnson only had two catches but did haul in the eventual game-winning touchdown for the Buckeyes.
“It was great to see some guys step up in his absence,” Day added.
Many Ohio State fans would like to see the Buckeyes hold JSN out for the next two non-conference games, contests with Arkansas State and Toledo but it might be a lot to ask Smith-Njigba to come in ‘cold’ against Wisconsin to open Big Ten play in just a few short weeks.
The good news is, by all accounts this will just be a short absence from the lineup for CJ Stroud and the Buckeyes.
“It is not a long-term thing, and we will evaluate him throughout the week and hope to have him on Saturday.”