COLUMBUS — Ohio State will open the season without at least three key players — including its top two running backs.
Star cornerback Bradley Roby and junior tailback Rod Smith will each be suspended one game, coach Urban Meyer said today, joining starting back Carlos Hyde on the sideline for the Buckeyes’ season opener against Buffalo.
Roby’s punishment stems from his skirmish with a bouncer outside a bar at Bloomington, Ind., last month. Though his misdemeanor charge was reduced this week from battery to disorderly conduct, Meyer said Roby would be suspended even if the case were dismissed.
"He’ll be suspended one game just because there was an issue," Meyer said, "and I’ll make further determination later. I don't think it's done."
Smith, meanwhile, violated an undisclosed team rule in February. With Hyde suspended three games, Smith’s absence will shift senior Jordan Hall into the starting tailback role against Buffalo. Behind Hall, who Meyer would prefer to use more in a hybrid run-catch, are sophomore Bri’onte Dunn, redshirt freshman Warren Ball and freshmen Ezekiel Elliot and Dontre Wilson.
Look for Smith to stand in for Hyde upon his return.
“If it wasn’t for a mistake, then he’d be maybe starting [the opener],” Meyer said. “He is doing very good and he is going to be a valuable member of this team once he gets back. He's practicing at a very high level. It’s his last call. It’s the 11th hour for Rod Smith. He needs to perform."