This week the Buckeyes will take on the San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes will have two of their suspended players back and available- star CB Bradley Roby and backup RB Rod Smith. Let’s first take a look at how the Buckeyes fared without them and then discuss their possible roles for the game this week.
Sophomore CB Armani Reeves started in the place of Bradley Roby. Reeves had his hands full guarding Buffalo Receiver, Alex Neutz, a 1000-yard receiver from last season. Neutz had a great game, finishing with 9 catches for 98 yards, including a TD. Reeves was playing way back in coverage for the most post, giving Neutz a big cushion. However, there were some bright spots in his performance. Reeves did defend a pass in the endzone intended for Neutz during a defensive goal line stand in the fourth quarter and almost came up with a difficult interception as well in the first half. Reeves did enough in the eyes of the coaching staff to earn another start opposite Doran Grant.
The Ohio State backfield did a terrific job without Rod Smith. Jordan Hall had a career day, picking up 159 yards on 21 carries while breaking 2 long TD runs. Freshman Dontre Wilson showed off his speed with a 59 yard kick return setting up the second Hall touchdown, while collecting 29 yards on 4 touches offensively. Freshmen Warren Ball and Ezekiel Elliot combined for 3 carries for 8 yards. When you throw in Braxton Miller’s 77 yards rushing, the Buckeyes ran for 261 yards in Smith’s absence. However, it was not all smooth sailing. Dontre Wilson lost the ball on a fumble leading to a Buffalo touchdown. Smith really could have been useful on a 4th and 1 in which Hall was stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
Reeves and Hall will both be starting at their respective positions on Saturday. I would expect Roby to see more action than Reeves though; in fact, I would not be surprised if Reeves plays above Roby only on the first possession. Coach Meyer is trying to send a message and I think Roby gets the point. That said, Bradley Roby is a first-round NFL talent and his charges were dismissed- Roby needs to be on the field making plays. As for Rod Smith, it is likely Smith will get his turn of carries in the backfield. If he runs well, Smith will get a solid amount of carries, especially in short yardage situations. I expect Hall to get the majority of the carries and the Freshmen are likely to see some action as well. It is possible Smith could get some carries with Hall is getting game reps at Hybrid Back.