Buckeyes working to replace Bryant in secondary
With senior safety Christian Bryant lost for the season to a broken ankle, No. 3 Ohio State's quest to replace Bryant officially begins on the practice field Tuesday.
It appears fellow senior Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown will get the first shot.
That was the word out of Ohio State's weekly Monday news conference, with Urban Meyer meeting the media between meetings with his defensive coaching staff. With a game at unbeaten No. 15 Northwestern on tap, Meyer said getting the secondary ready for the Wildcats high-tempo attack is priority No. 1.
"(Replacing Bryant), this is not an easy one," Meyer said. "If this was a game that you out-man them, a very easy offense, (it would be easier). This is a very complicated offense, one that's going to require...communication, and we can't have (breakdowns). So that's where maybe (Brown) has more of an advantage over a Vonn Bell or a Tyvis Powell.
"The timing is tough."
Powell is a redshirt freshman who's been playing in Ohio State's nickel and dime defenses. A true freshman, Bell is a five-star recruit who's played well on special teams thus far in his college career. Brown played in 33 games over his first three seasons and earned his first extended playing time in his final season with a strong showing last spring.
Now, he's going to be in the spotlight. Called "Pitt" or "Pittsburgh" by his teammates because senior wide receiver Corey Brown is "Philly" based on their hometowns, he's been a three-year letterwinner and special teams contributor. Twice last season he played more than 60 snaps in a game, but that was in the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Bryant was a team captain and three-year starter; he was injured late in last weekend's win over Wisconsin. Meyer got emotional after the game talking about Bryant and what he meant to this Ohio State team.
Speaking after Meyer did on Monday, cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said Ohio State won't be able replace the leadership it lost in Bryant and that he believes Brown will get the first shot to replace him in the lineup.
"I think Pitt will go in there and play," Coombs said. "He's an experienced guy, a versatile guy."
Coombs said sophomore Devan Bogard and freshman Cam Burrows are also in the mix for playing time in the dime package, which Ohio State will use extensively against Northwestern's four and five-wide packages.
"The good thing (with Brown) is you get a veteran, a kid that really does a lot of things well," Meyer said. "And then you have Tyvis who has got an incredible future. And then Vonn Bell is also in the mix somewhere, because once you replace that position, then you've got nickel, dime issues, so the three names we just mentioned are the ones that, as we speak we are having a conversation about."
Meyer said he met with his defensive staff at 7 a.m. Monday and that they'd be meeting again later in the afternoon. With high-tempo practices set for Tuesday and Wednesday, the Buckeyes have jobs to fill and Meyer expects stiff competition in trying to seize them.