COLUMBUS — In Ohio State’s 21-10 win over Notre Dame a week ago, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Mike Hall posted four tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack for the Buckeyes.
And the stats really only told a portion of his disruptive nature. He was in the backfield so often that he started leaving his toothbrush there.
Following the game, however, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said that while this one performance was outstanding, the challenge moving forward would be doing it week after week.
“When he’s hungry, he can be a very, very good player,” Day said over a week ago. “Now, we’ve seen what he can do, just like a lot of guys did on offense and defense on Saturday, but now being able to do it consistently, is what the challenge is. It’s like bringing home an A in English. Okay, you can do it, now can you do it all the time? And so those are some of the things that we’re talking about this week.”
The talks sure seemed to work because in the Buckeyes’ 45-12 win over Arkansas State this weekend, Hall notched three more tackles for loss and another sack.
If he’s not careful, Day is going to have to find new concerns for Hall to thunderingly dismiss.
“Well, two games is a nice start,” Day may have to say, “but he hasn’t even rescued any children from a single burning building yet.”
It appears as long as the head coach keeps moving the goal posts, Mike Hall will continue to do what he must in order to exceed them.
In the days leading up to the matchup against Arkansas State, Hall’s teammates were comparing him to Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. His response was to go out and show that there is only one Mike Hall, which is exactly what Day expected.
“I think what we have to do, and something I told the entire team, is that after a game gets done, especially high profile game like that, everyone’s gonna have their opinions, whether it’s a national media, the local media, your dad, your uncle, your brother, your girlfriend, everyone’s gonna have their opinion on what happened. Because that’s just how it goes,” Day said a week ago. “If you’re gonna start listening to those opinions, then you’re gonna get distracted, and it’s not gonna help you.
“So if someone says you were really good, and all of a sudden, you’re the next Aaron Donald, well, you better be careful. If someone tells you that you’re not very good, and that you need to improve, or that this stinks, or that’s not very good, then you got to be careful of that too because that can become a distraction. So one of the things we can’t do is listen to the noise. And I know Mike’s not going to do that. Mike’s gonna stay hungry like he’s always been, and continue to grow because he’s got a very, very high end potential. You can see it. He’s practiced that way every day.”
Hall was once again in the starting lineup for the Buckeyes in game two and punished the Arkansas State offensive line with tardy slips on about a dozen snaps. He did have a scary moment, however, when he apparently took a knee to the head and had to leave the game. Hall never returned, but Day lauded his performance against the Red Wolves and provided a status update on the Buckeyes’ newest star defender.
“He did it again this week. And so that’s good. That’s progress,” Day said of Hall before providing an injury update. “It’s not something that we expect him to miss any time for. But what a game. We’ll see once we get an evaluation on him postgame. But there was no concern coming out of it that it was gonna be long-term.”
Getting Mike Hall back on the field sooner rather than later would be huge, plus Ryan Day is due to give him another challenge any day now.
Which Hall, of course, is due to beat.