The Ohio State defense’s No. 1 task in the Rose Bowl should be familiar from the regular season.
Stop long runs.
Washington senior Myles Gaskin is the school’s all-time leading rusher and No. 3 in Pac 12 history with 5,202 yards. In 51 career games, he has average 5.6 yards per carry.
Gaskin, a 5-foot-10, 193-pounder from Lynnwood, Wash., has eight career runs of at least 50 yards, including three this season.
Meanwhile, Ohio State’s struggles to stop big plays are well-documented. The Buckeyes have allowed 24 runs of more than 20 yards, including eight of 50 or more.
Ohio State enters the Rose Bowl having already allowed more total yards rushing than any team in school history, and the opponents’ average of 4.6 yards per carry is .2 higher than the school record for a full season.
“In this day and age, people are going to hit passes, and that’s something you live with,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “Can’t have too many of them, but I’ve never had long runs like this in my career. And for a lot of different reasons.”
Those include players being misaligned, failures of the front seven to get off blocks and of course missed tackles.
“When runs break, the first 8-10 yards can be attributed to the front seven, but then it’s the secondary’s job to get it down. That’s why they call it the secondary. And we just haven’t done a very good job of that.
“We’re going to have to do a good job this game because they’re going to get the ball into the secondary. They run the ball very effectively. They’re very patient. And as I said earlier, they have really good personnel, so when the ball does pop, we’re going to need to get it on the ground for us to win the game.”
Gaskin has watched the Buckeyes on film and was impressed with their athleticism — but he wasn’t about to provide any bulletin board material when asked about Ohio State’s propensity for getting gashed
“That’s a great question for them,” Gaskin said with some senior savvy. “I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t have nothing to say. It’s hard. It happens to them. It happens to us sometimes. You can’t win every down. That’s a part of football.”
Buckeyes without Munford
Ohio State could have only 60 percent of its usual starting offensive line available for the Rose Bowl against Washington.
Thayer Munford, the sophomore who earned honorable mention All-Big Ten in his first season as the starting left tackle for the Buckeyes, did not take part in a practice Thursday that was open to the media.
Josh Alabi filled his spot.
A school spokesman had no update on Munford, who started every game despite battling a hip injury for much of the season. He missed most of a win at Maryland on Nov. 17 with a leg injury but returned a week later for the Michigan game.
Ohio State is already without Demetrius Knox, a Springfield native who suffered a severe foot injury against Michigan.
Wyatt Davis started the Big Ten Championship game in his place a week later and will do so again against Washington.
Munford and Knox were both present as the Buckeyes practiced on a sunny day at the SubHub Center in Carson, Calif.