Ohio State coach Urban Meyer announced after a scrimmage Saturday that two prominent Buckeyes will be suspended for the season opener: running back Rod Smith for an undisclosed violation of team rules and cornerback Bradley Roby for his part in an incident at a Bloomington, Ind., bar.
Roby, originally cited for striking a security guard, looked as if he might escape team sanctions after prosecutors offered him a diversion program for first-time offenders Friday, meaning a misdemeanor assault charge would be dropped. A surveillance video reportedly showed he didn’t initiate the confrontation and reacted only after being pushed.
But getting a break in criminal matters doesn’t mean a free pass from Meyer.
Running back Carlos Hyde was suspended three games for an altercation with a female at a Columbus bar, though charges were never filed.
Meyer reserves the right to crack down on players when there’s an issue involving police even if they are cleared.
“That’s our job. We expect you (to walk away). They’ve been told,” he said. “There’s two ways: You either take their money or take their playing time. If it was early summer, I would have taken all their scholarship money (for summer school). But it’s the end of summer, so you take their playing time.”
Meyer is giving himself the option of handing down further discipline in Roby’s case until it’s resolved. But the junior All-American probably was fortunate the surveillance video surfaced.
“It’s one (game) — he was going to be suspended for more than one if it didn’t show that,” Meyer said. “He was there, and he shouldn’t be there.”
Meyer didn’t elaborate on Smith’s infraction, saying only that it happened last winter. And he lauded the junior running back for how he’s performed in preseason camp.
Senior Jordan Hall is No. 1 on the depth chart, although he’s more suited to play the hybrid receiver-tailback position. Smith looks to be the Buckeyes’ first option in the power running game in Hyde’s absence.
“He’s going to be a valuable member of this team when he gets back,” Meyer said. “He’s practicing at a very, very high level.
“It’s his last call. It’s the 11th-hour for Rod Smith. He needs to perform.”
The off-field issues would seem to elevate sophomore Bri-onte Dunn into the rotation for the Buffalo game Aug. 31.
“Bri’onte is doing good. It’s just learning the offense,” Meyer said. “It will be interesting these few weeks of battle. It’s a fight for the ball, so he’d better do well.”
The Buckeyes’ 100-play scrimmage was closed to outsiders, meaning the media had to depend on Meyer and a handful of players for a report.
The coach wasn’t especially complimentary.
“We’ve got two weeks, and we’re not ready to play a game yet. But the good news is we don’t have to be,” he said.
“We want nine units (position groups) ready when called upon, and we’re not there yet. I’d say we have four or five units that are getting really close and four or five that aren’t. We’ve got work to do.”
Meyer said the linebackers are one of the under-performing outfits. And Ryan Shazier, the lone returning starter there, agrees with that assessment.
“I feel we need to do a way better job than we are right now,” he said. “The linebackers aren’t doing as good as we’re supposed to do. We’ve had a bunch of great linebackers that have played at Ohio State, and we’re not living up to that name.
“I feel a lot of guys are overthinking and stressing about a lot of things, and they’re just not going 100 percent. … If we can just get them to react, I feel they can do a way better job.”
Quick hitters: Meyer on QB Braxton Miller’s play in the scrimmage: “He’s throwing the ball at a very efficient level right now. His leadership skills still need to improve, but they have improved. I’m pleased with that.”
• Three players have suffered injuries that effectively have ended their careers: redshirt freshman tight end Blake Thomas (neck), junior defensive back Adam Griffin (shoulder) and senior defensive back Jamie Wood (shoulder).
• Meyer made it official: Taylor Decker, a Vandalia product, is the starting right tackle. “I told him today if he had a good day, I’d name him (a first-stringer), and he had a good day.”
• The Buckeyes were ranked second in the Associated Press preseason poll Saturday, just as they were in the USA Today coaches Top 25.