Mike Hall Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive Tackle

After Fighting Through Injuries, Mike Hall Closing In On 100%

ATLANTA — Ohio State sophomore defensive tackle Mike Hall burst into American households in the Buckeyes’ season opener against Notre Dame back in September when he posted four tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a quarterback hurry.

With so much preseason focus on sophomore defensive ends Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau, and sophomore defensive tackle Tyleik Williams, it was Hall who stole the show from all of them.

Then one week later, he upped himself with three tackles for loss and a sack against Arkansas State.

Hall was no longer a secret, but then he missed the next game against Toledo and began a long stretch of various injuries that limited his playing time.

Despite these limitations, he still played a role on passing downs. Against Michigan State in game six, Hall took part in seven snaps and sacked the quarterback three times. A fourth sack was negated because of a personal foul penalty called on a teammate.

Since that game, however, Hall hasn’t tackled anybody in the backfield, including the quarterback.

After posting 7.5 tackles for loss and what is still a team-leading 4.5 sacks over the first six games, Hall has been shutout since. It’s not for lack of trying, of course, that’s just life with injuries and limited snaps.

Earlier in the season, Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles tried to be forthcoming without being too revealing, just mentioning the overall difficulties that Hall has had to deal with this season.

Even Hall himself hasn’t exactly gone in depth on everything that has bothered him, but since the Michigan game, he’s been getting the kind of rehab that he thinks will have him as close to 100% as anybody can be this time of year.

“Yeah, I’ll be 100 percent leading up to the game. I feel like these weeks will allow me to get better,” Hall said two weeks ago. “I feel a lot better. Just having these couple of weeks off leading up to the game, just getting that rest. Our priority is still Georgia but this allows us to get these couple of weeks and just get right.”

While it’s not entirely scientific, Hall’s impact on the defense as a whole can be measured statistically. In the four games where Hall was at his healthiest, the Buckeye defense allowed 253 yards of total offense per game. In every other contest this year, they’ve allowed 329 yards of total offense per game.

What has the defense missed not having him out there?

“Mike is just a dog and not having his energy out there, it’s something that you can’t replace,” said senior defensive end Zach Harrison. “But I feel like he’s really making strides and he’s gonna be able to help us win a national championship.”

When Hall and fellow starting tackle Taron Vincent are on the field, they provide a constant energy to the rest of the defense.

“Mike is a big contributor to our team,” said sophomore defensive end JT Tuimoloau. “I mean, he does everything. We have a lot of dudes on our team, and he’s also that piece of our puzzle. And missing him, I mean, Mike was out there doing his thing. We always love the energy. He is always just keeping us up tempo and with him and Taron’s energy in the middle, along with everybody else. He’s just that that spark plug.”

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Hall hasn’t been able to be that spark plug for a while, but rather than shut it down, he wanted to fight through during the season and then rest up after the regular season.

“Yeah, they gave the option up to me and I decided that I wanted to still come out here and support my guys and be there for them, whether that was on the sidelines or on the field,” Hall said. “I didn’t want to sit down. I felt like I would have let the team down, really. So I took that initiative on me just to come out here and just trying to get into treatment room, just to come out here and support my guys.”

Even prior to speaking with reporters, Hall had just finished up with more rehab. Dealing with injuries is a daily thing. The rehab can be constant and strenuous, but for Hall, it has never been the toughest part about being injured.

“I would say that the hardest thing is just the mental part about it,” He said. “It’s just dealing with that and not getting too much in your feelings going on the field. Kind of just got to go back to the rehab room and get right with our trainers. It is just trying to do everything you can, whatever, just trying to get back as close to 100%.”

Hall gets closer to triple digits every single day.

Snaps have been limited over the second half of the season. He’s played about as many snaps in the past seven games as he did in his first four games.

As you can imagine, Hall’s excitement for this game is two-fold. It’s the College Football Playoffs against Georgia, so it doesn’t need any additional folds, but this is also expected to be the healthiest he has been in months.

Which he is definitely looking forward to.

“Oh, yeah, I’m anxious,” Hall admitted. “I’m ready to get back on the field. I just can’t wait to unleash and just go crazy.”

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