Ohio State’s road to a repeat got a little more difficult Thursday morning.
The Buckeyes will open their 2015 season Sept. 7 on the road against Virginia Tech without four players. Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith were all suspended for a violation of Department of Athletics policy.
What that means is Ohio State will travel to play a talented Hokies team, that beat it one year ago, without four guys who were expected to play major roles.
Bosa, the All-American defensive end, was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year a season ago. Marshall and Wilson are two electrifying players at the H-back position who are used in a variety of ways in Urban Meyer’s offense. Smith is a wide receiver who saw meaningful snaps a year ago and was expected to be a big part of the rotation this season following the departures of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer.
The Buckeyes are going to need some help to step into these roles. So, who will it be?
At defensive end, Tyquan Lewis was set to start opposite of Bosa at end so it’s expected he will now play a major factor against the Hokies. Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes will also be in the mix as both were expected to be in the rotation this season and now without Bosa playing against Virginia Tech, both should see more snaps.
Losing Marshall, Wilson and Corey Smith is also quite the blow to Ohio State’s wide receiver depth. Outside of Michael Thomas, the Buckeyes lack experience at the wide receiver spot. Noah Brown was a name we heard a lot about this spring, so expect for him to see significant playing time without Smith. A pair of guys who redshirted last season — Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin — could also find themselves in the mix.
Braxton Miller’s move to H-back now suddenly makes a lot more sense. He will join Curtis Samuel at the position so there’s plenty of talent, but neither has played the position in a game before. Parris Campbell could also see some snaps against the Hokies.
So, what exactly does this all mean?
Well, it’s certainly a blow to Ohio State, but it’s not the end of the world. Replacing Bosa will be the biggest challenge. He’s not a guy who you can just sub someone in and get similar production.
The wide receiver/H-back losses, though larger in quantity, may not be as tough to replace with the depth the Buckeyes have at those positions. A lot of it is unproven, though.
Things in Blacksburg, Va. just got a little more interesting.