Ohio State Football: Noah Spence Not with Team, Dealing with 'Personal Issues'

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Ohio State Football: Noah Spence Not with Team, Dealing with 'Personal Issues'
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes have arrived in Florida ahead of their Orange Bowl matchup with No. 12 Clemson, but one of their top players hasn't made the trip.

According to Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors, Urban Meyer told reporters that defensive end Noah Spence is at home dealing with "personal issues."

“Noah didn’t fly down with us,” Meyer said, via Rowland's article. “He’s working through some personal issues at home. I hope [he will be here].”

With kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday, January 3, time is ticking on Spence's return, and he's certainly missing out on pivotal bowl practices.

If Spence doesn't rejoin the team, Ohio State will be losing one of its most disruptive defenders.

The sophomore standout from Harrisburg, Pa. had a fantastic season, recording 52 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and a team-high eight sacks, according to Ohio State's official website. Spence lines up as the Buckeyes' primary pass-rusher in a position the coaches dubbed the "Viper," and his speed off the edge is one of Ohio State's biggest advantages.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
With a team-high eight sacks, Noah Spence is a huge part of Ohio State's defense.

Replacing Spence won't be easy, but if the Buckeyes need to, they'll turn to another sophomore in Jamal Marcus.

Marcus is Spence's primary backup, and with Ohio State's heavy rotation along the defensive line, he received a good amount of playing this year. Marcus played in 12 games and registered 15 total tackles, including two sacks, according to the team's official website.

Facing Clemson's high-powered offense, Spence's potential absence would be a huge blow.

The Tigers, led by senior quarterback Tajh Boyd, boast one of the country's most explosive offenses. Clemson is No. 11 in total offense, averaging 502 yards, while ranking ninth with more than 40 points per game. Much of that damage is done through the air as the Tigers average 329 passing yards per outing.

Ohio State has given up big yards to opposing quarterbacks, ranking 103rd in the country after surrendering an average of 260 yards per game. The Buckeyes need dramatic defensive improvement to slow down the Tigers, and now the playing status of one of their key players is up in the air.

The Buckeyes, of course, are looking to bounce back from their first loss under Urban Meyer after falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. 

If Spence can't make the trip, bouncing back will be much more difficult.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NCAA.com

David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412

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