Mike Hall may have just had his coming out party on Saturday.
While he’s been Ohio State’s most effective interior defensive lineman all year long, he more than doubled his season sack total in the Buckeyes’ 49-20 win over Michigan State in East Lansing.
The sophomore continuously caused havoc in the Spartans’ backfield, logging three tackles and 2.5 of the team’s four sacks — upping his season total to a team-high 4.5 quarterback takedowns.
And, as he admitted in his postgame presser, he didn’t even see 15 snaps.
For now, Hall is still nursing a minor injury he suffered in the team’s win over Arkansas State on Sept. 10. But with the efficient way he played on Saturday, defensive line coach Larry Johnson may not have a choice but to call his number more often.
“I was definitely begging coach, just nagging him [to get in the game],” Hall said, with a smile. “But you know, he’d just send me to the side and say, ‘You’re good. Just chill.’ I’m just trying to limit it right now but I’m all good.”
As a team, Ohio State held Michigan State to 202 total yards and just seven on the ground.
Hall was at the center of that scarlet storm and he wasn’t even in the starting lineup.
“For this first game [back from injury], it was a weird adjustment,” Hall said. “Just getting ready before the game just like I was starting, I just had to simmer down a little bit. But just coming in, third down with fresh legs, there’s no better feeling than that. You really just have to make the most out of the opportunities that are given to you.”
When Hall did get his opportunities, Michigan State was well aware that 51 was entering the game.
“Every time I’d come on the field, you know, they’d talk a little smack,” Hall said. “But it’s all good. That can’t ruin anything that God has planned for you. As a defensive lineman, you have to respect it. But overall, all my guys are great players. There’s no singling anybody out.”
That’s an understatement.
While the Spartans’ run game was basically non-existent on Saturday, Michigan State was 3-for-11 on third down conversions, moved the sticks just 12 times, and held the ball nearly 15 minutes less than the Buckeyes.
That’s credit to Hall and the rest of the team’s defensive unit.
“I would say our defense is playing lights out right now,” Hall said. “We just have to keep it going. You can’t be worried about what happened last week. We just have to worry about the next one.”
It may be time for Iowa, the Buckeyes’ next opponent on Oct. 22, to worry about Hall.
Before Saturday’s game against Illinois kicked off, the Hawkeyes’ offensive line had surrendered 13 sacks through five contests.
Hall and company will be licking their chops.
“I feel like I’ve done great my first [six] games,” Hall said. “But as Coach Day always preaches, you can’t worry about last week. If you get too big in your head, that effects how you play. I just try to bring [energy] to the game.”