Key starter questionable for Ohio State against Western Kentucky

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

COLUMBUS — Ohio State could have to face Western Kentucky without a key member of the secondary.

Lathan Ransom is listed as questionable with an unidentified on the pregame injury report, though he is the only player of note to appear.

A senior from Tucson, Ariz., Ransom has 16 career starts at safety for the Buckeyes.

He is the No. 1 “Bandit” or boundary safety in Jim Knowles’ defense, which puts an onus on the last line of defense to make a lot of plays so the front can stop the run.

Western Kentucky is expected to present a big challenge to the Ohio State secondary, which was a weakness last season and has not been tested much so far this year.

Hilltoppers quarterback Austin Reed led the nation in passing yards last season, and he runs a high-powered spread attack.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said another senior safety, Josh Proctor, will be ready to go Saturday after missing last week’s game against Youngstown State. He started the first game at “Adjuster,” the middle safety position, but Proctor is also considered more of a run-stopper.

Malik Hartford started at Adjuster last week, but the true freshman from Lakota West was replaced after one series by Ja’Had Carter, a senior transfer from Syracuse.

Knowles has said most of the safeties cross train at both deep safety spots, but the coaches have had Hartford concentrate on Adjuster to help him master the position more quickly.

Proctor, Hartford and Carter are all still in the mix for first-team snaps at Adjuster, so one of the veterans could start in Ransom’s place if he can’t go.

Receivers Kyion Graves and Reis Stocksdale, defensive tackle Will Smith Jr., tight end Zak Herbstreit and safety Kourt Williams are out.

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