COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 2 Ohio State will open the season on Aug. 31 with three key players serving suspensions.
Speaking after an intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday, head coach Urban Meyer announced that cornerback Bradley Roby will be suspended for the Buckeyes opener vs. Buffalo for his role in an early morning incident in Bloomington, Ind., in July, and that junior running back Rod Smith will also serve a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules last winter.
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A suspension of at least three games had already been announced for top returning running back Carlos Hyde for another early-morning incident at a downtown Columbus bar.
“(Roby) will be suspended just because there was an issue,” Meyer said. “I’ll make a further determination once it’s done. He was there and shouldn’t have been there. That (one game) won’t change.”
The Buckeyes lost seven defensive starters from last year’s 12-0 team and will play at least one game without Roby, a fourth-year junior and a projected first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft. The distractions clearly irritate Meyer, who has said his primary concern is replacing leadership lost from last year’s senior class.
“We’ll take away their playing time and see how they respond,” Meyer said.
Senior Jordan Hall, who’s returning from a medical redshirt season, will likely get first crack at starting at running back but highly-touted freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott have also earned opportunities.
Meyer said Hall “has been what I thought he would be in the spring, coming back ready” after missing last season. Meyer said Smith is having a solid camp and will be a contributor after serving his penalty.
“It’s his last call,” Meyer said. “It’s the 11th hour for Rod Smith.”
Roby had his misdemeanor assault charge reduced to disorderly conduct on Friday. Meyer has said he’s still gathering facts and was aware of the charge being reduced and video of the incident, and said that Roby still will serve a one-game penalty.
In the one practice open to media this month, Roby was playing with the second-team defense. Freshman Gareon Conley played cornerback opposite junior Doran Grant with the first-teamers that day.