The Ohio State Buckeyes made the trip to Miami Sunday in preparation for the Discover Orange Bowl against No. 12 Clemson — but were short one key player.
Sophomore starting defensive end Noah Spence did not fly down with his teammates and coaches, who will hold their first practice in the Sunshine State Sunday.
“Noah didn’t fly down with us,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said in a press conference. “He’s working through some personal issues at home.”
Spence played in all 13 games for the No. 7-ranked Buckeyes (12-1, 8-1) this season, recording 50 tackles and leading the team with eight sacks.
“It’s one of those things that we’ve got to move on,” defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said Monday during a press conference. “Obviously, we love Noah. We wish him the best. We hope we get a chance to get him back down here. For now, we’ve got to continue to move on.”
Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier said it would “be a huge loss” if Spence is unable to make the trip to Miami and play in the Orange Bowl.
“(Spence is) our sack leader on the team right now, he’s one of the top in the Big Ten and he just has consistent pressure on the quarterback and does a good job against the run game,” Shazier said Monday. “He just has a lot of experience and if we don’t have him out there it’ll be a tremendous loss.”
Fickell said that sophomore Jamal Marcus and junior Steve Miller will be the first to step up in Spence’s absence if he is unable to make the trip.
Kickoff between the Buckeyes and Tigers (10-2, 7-1) is set for 8:30 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium Jan. 3.
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