Roby, Secondary Looking to Build on Penn Statement

By Kyle Rowland on October 31, 2013 at 9:15a
The cornerback.

His stats weren’t gaudy. There were no interceptions or sacks, and Bradley Roby didn’t earn Big Ten defensive player of the week honors. But he did grade out as a champion, according to Ohio State’s coaches. Most importantly for Roby, though, was the simple act of stepping back on the football field in Ohio State’s 63-14 win over Penn State.

“This was definitely a statement game,” he said a his five-tackle, two-pass break up performance. Not just for the team, but for himself.

All-Americans aren’t supposed to go through these types of growing pains, especially in their junior season after shunning the NFL’s fame and fortune. Roby’s return for Year 3 was supposed to cap an exemplary career, continuing the tradition of star-studded defensive backs at Ohio State – Antoine Winfield, Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Gamble, Shawn Springs, etc.

Instead, what is presumed to be Roby’s final season in Scarlet and Gray has hit potholes, guard rails and narrowly avoided a head-on collision. First came a summer arrest that brought along a one-game suspension from head coach Urban Meyer. Roby didn’t start until the third game and dealt with uncharacteristic sloppy play. Cal, Wisconsin and Northwestern all picked on him and won the battles. The explanations – or excuses – came in droves. Roby was put on an island because Ohio State put all its eggs in the stop-the-run basket, coaches said. 

Then came the Iowa game, a low moment in Roby’s career. The secondary was staggered already in the first quarter, as the Hawkeyes moved up and down the field. But just then, Roby delivered a punishing hit to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. It drew a flag and the first targeting ejection for a Buckeye. Suddenly, Roby’s week of preparation was down the drain as he walked full of anger to the locker room.

“It was very tough, especially considering after I watched the replay and still didn’t think there was anything wrong with that hit,” Roby said. “If that’s a penalty, I just don’t know how to play football. But that’s in the past. I’m over it and I’m moving on.”

Fairness of the rule was not only called into question by Roby but also his head coach. Meyer said the play Roby was involved in wasn’t what the targeting rule was intended for. Roby called it unfair because he worked his “tail off” an entire week only to see the preparation result in time wasted.

“Before the season I was already thinking, ‘Man, to get kicked out of a game, that’s very harsh,’” he said. “I feel like after this season they’ll revisit it and things will change.”

Roby hit CTRL-ALT-DEL on the Iowa game – and much of his junior season – and began anew last Saturday. Under the stars and Musco lighting in Ohio Stadium, Roby, with the help of fellow secondary mates, limited Allen Robinson to 48 receiving yards. Once the starters were removed from the game, that number jumped to a game-high 173 yards.

The impact was still felt, though. After weeks of disparagement to the point where it became venomous, the defensive backfield was out to prove it can still be the reliable unit spoken of throughout the summer. Rendering an All-Big Ten receiver irrelevant was the proof. 

“I just really focused on how I approached the game last year,” Roby. “The first half of the season I was worried about too many other things. I forgot that doing my job is what got me here. I got back to the basics and the small things that are going to get you far. I tried to live up to the hype. If you’re a good player, you’re going to make the plays.

“As the season goes on, you’re supposed to get better. It’s not about what happens in the first half of the season. It’s how you finish.”

The Silver Bullets proved that a year ago after an imbalanced first half of the season gave way to one of the top defenses in the country. The final result was an undefeated season. One year later, the belief is the Penn State game signaled that sea change for the 2013 season.

Tired of being labeled underachieving performers, the defense, and in large part the secondary, swung momentum in their favor both on game day and for future considerations. Pittsburgh Brown and C.J. Barnett both snared first-quarter interception that prevented Penn State from grabbing momentum, setting the tone for Christian Hackenberg and the Nittany Lions’ long night.

“The most impressive part of the game to me was we caused turnovers and we hit the quarterback a little bit,” Meyer said. “We haven’t been doing that.”

Said Roby: “It was an important game for me. I knew going into the game they had good receiver and a lot of people would be watching our matchup.”

When Brown and Barnett walked into the postgame interview room, they weren’t rushed by the media. No, the rushing came when Roby opened the door. It wasn’t diminishing what Brown and Barnett had accomplished on the field. Rather, indicating that the defense is still Roby’s unit.

“He really had a great week of practice,” Meyer said. “That’s his whole issue, his practice. When he practices well, he usually plays well.”

He’s not leading the nation in passes defended like last season or even his team in interceptions. Roby hasn’t started every game and didn’t get to finish one. But he remains an unwavering force on the field, in the locker room and in meeting rooms.

Vocal and to the point, Roby’s leadership and attitude doesn’t center on regret. He looks to the future – the next practice, the next game – as an opportunity for a testimonial, as to say ‘Don’t forget about me, don’t leave us behind.’

“That’s the attitude we carried into [the Penn State] game, that we were going to make a statement in primetime while everybody was watching,” Roby said.

“And that’s what we did.”


Comments Show All Comments

rekrul's picture

Hopefully what he understands and embraces is, The Ohio State University is one of the top teams in the nation.  Everybody is always watching!!!

Out Work, Out Think, Out Play!!!

jeremytwoface's picture

Roby, Secondary Looking to Build on Penn Statement

And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of boooooooooze!! And we'll drink to old Ohio 'till we wobble in our shoes.

ABrown07's picture

Roby is a good ball player. Maybe complacency got ahold of him; who knows? Regardless, he had a nice game against PSU and now let's hope he will build on that and also hope maybe he's learned a lesson in mental preparation.

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

-Woody Hayes

Hovenaut's picture

I think his struggles this season are a thing of the past. I believe Roby is set for a very good finish to the year, and the entire defense will benefit down the stretch.

I know I'm familiar with stumbling through life at times, and I've learned (still learning even) to roll with the punches (no pun intended). You eventually find yourself centered and at ease, doing what you do well.

To me, that's Roby. He's a talented football player, and that doesn't go away while you're able to play at such a high level.....which I certainly believe he can.

balbak buck's picture

Hey ole fox.Fans are selfish.Roby is a great player who will go in first round..too talented.

Seattle Linga's picture

Maybe he was reading too many headlines in newspapers over the summer but I believe he has arrived and last game was just the beginning, with shutting down Robinson. We will see the best ROBY throughout the remaining games and I believe he has a Pick-6 in his game still this year. 

Brutus1972's picture

I think Roby will be focused and live up to his talent for the remainder of the season. We all know he has 1st round talent and I'm sure he would like to be compensated accordingly come April. I'm sure everyone caught the Urban quote challenging Roby's practice focus. Urban Meyer, 24/7 psychologist at your
When I watched the game again I noticed that Grant was on Robinson as much if not more than Roby and did a very good job. I'm not knocking Roby, I just think Grant deserves credit where it's due.

thatlillefty's picture

Doran Grant is solid. He'll be a leader on next year's secondary, for sure.

sbentz4's picture

I am not trying to look ahead to next year, but our inexperience in the secondary next year is well documented.  I look forward to Grant being in a "Roby-type" role for our db's in 2014.  Hopefully, we can develop Apple, Burrows, Reeves, etc. into good complimentary pieces to Grant.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Perhaps Roby should come back his Senior year now!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Who wouldn't love that!   With the offensive line reloading next year there might be more of a premium put on the D early next season.  Roby would be huuuge to have around.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Larryp713's picture

I think his head is finally getting straight, he is not worrying about what he missed out on by not entering the draft, nor is he letting the pressure and expectations weigh him down, since he will not win the Thorpe award this year. He is now focusing on playing the position, and getting better each week. He would probably be the first to admit this should have been his focus all along. But what a great time for a young man to learn this lesson.
Now comes the last part: he needs to find the joy of the game again, as Braxton did a couple of weeks ago. Braxton is no longer hesitating - he is playing much faster because he isn't thinking. If Roby gets there in the next six games, he will be back in the discussion of first round draft picks. Have fun, Bradley.



Clinger76's picture

what i think, (my $.02) is that missing the first couple of games, being suspended, He didn't get loose or get his game up to speed as the rest of the defense did with the likes of Buffalo an Sdsu! I believe his game is really just getting off the ground. From here on out, Totally different season for him! Go Bucks!!! Finish Strong. It doesnt matter what happened in the first 8 games if you dont finish the last 5!!

"If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats, But if you take no risks, you will earn no victories."

pjtobin's picture

I would love it if he stays one more year. He can get his degree and be one of the best in the nation. Even if he goes pro I'm still thankful he is a Buckeye. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

unholy bucknut's picture

Couldn't agree with you more brother.

txbucknut's picture

Indiana may not be a great team, but they do have one of the better offenses in the county. Roby, and the Buckeye defense really have a chance to prove something by shutting down the Hoosier offense in a few weeks. This team also beat up on Penn St., and put up more points/yards on Michigan State than any other team, and Michigan State boasts the top defense in the nation. And none of us have forgotten what happened vs Indiana last season. This may sound silly to some, but from a defensive standpoint, the chance to make the biggest statement of the season is right around the corner for Roby and the Buckeyes.