Ohio State spotlight: CB Bradley Roby
Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby takes out Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon in Ohio Stadium last week.
Bradley Roby goes into tonight’s game at Northwestern looking to rebound. Ohio State’s fourth-year junior cornerback — all-Big Ten a year ago and a high-level NFL draft prospect — struggled against Wisconsin in a 31-24 win last week.
The Buckeyes often lined him up in man-to-man coverage against receiver Jared Abbrederis so they could commit to slowing down the Badgers’ vaunted running game. That part worked — Buckeyes limited Wisconsin to a season-low 104 yards rushing.
“Our defense, I didn’t think we could do that,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said.
But Wisconsin made the Buckeyes pay for it in the passing game, with Abbrederis doing the lion’s share of the work. He finished with 10 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown, and much of that came at Roby’s expense.
“He didn’t play up to Roby standards,” Meyer said matter-of-factly this week. He later added, “He did give up some yards, but we won the game, and we couldn’t stop the run game unless you have a guy that you can hold off out there.”
Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said the Buckeyes knew they were asking a lot of Roby.
“I’m not going to tell you we asked for more than he is capable of, because I don’t think that that’s true,” Coombs said. “I think the kid he played against was very good.”
He also said Roby made some good plays that night, including an interception, that were overshadowed. Whether Northwestern will challenge the OSU defense and Roby in similar ways remains to be seen.
The Wildcats use basically a spread offense, much the same as OSU, but they have a favorite receiver in fourth-year junior speedster Tony Jones, averages team-highs of 6.0 catches and 90.5 yards per game. Coombs didn’t seem reluctant to throw Roby back out on the island if the situation calls for it.
“We are going to hang our hat on that kid,” Coombs said. “He will come back this week and play great.”