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Ohio State prepares for Orange Bowl despite last minute changes

Senior safety C.J. Barnett jumps over a Michigan State player during the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis Dec. 7. OSU lost, 34-24. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Senior safety C.J. Barnett jumps over a Michigan State player during the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis Dec. 7. OSU lost, 34-24. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Ohio State’s focus might not be completely on the game the day before the battle for the Orange Bowl. Split between hoping to snag a win and battling health, suspensions, injuries and new positions, players’ and coaches’ focuses are pulled thin.

“We’ve got to get some guys healthy. It’s pretty much through our team now. We had a week-long battle with some virus stuff,” coach Urban Meyer said in a press conference Thursday. “Our Jeff Heuerman seems to be the last casualty that we’re working through.”

As the 24-hour bug makes its way out of the picture, casualties in the lineup still persist. A three-game suspension has sophomore defensive lineman Noah Spence sitting out, and redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby is still pushing through a knee injury sustained during the Big Ten Championship.

Two starters out means Meyer has had to shift players to unfamiliar territory.

“(Redshirt-freshman defensive back) Tyvis Powell and (freshman defensive back) Vonn Bell will be starting at positions they’ve never started before … We’ve made some adjustments to scheme,” Meyer said.

As the numbers across the field change, Meyer has had to place faith in players who haven’t seen quite as much playing time. Sophomore defensive end Jamal Marcus has yet to start a game in the 2013 season and has recorded 15 tackles in contrast with Spence’s 52 tackles.

“Jamal Marcus is going to be a disruptive guy. He’s one of the more talented guys on our team. I’m anxious to watch him play,” Meyer said. “He’s a quick twitch guy. This is his kind of game.”

With Marcus geared up to take Spence’s place, the uncertainty of Roby’s injury still lingers. The cornerback trails only junior linebacker Ryan Shazier and redshirt-senior safety C.J. Barnett with 69 tackles. Only 10 tackles stand between Roby and the No. 2 position on the team.

Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said staff would be taking the injury day-by-day, yet there still has been no word on Roby’s health status.

Roby’s injury is another reminder of the loss to Michigan State Dec. 7, and that defeat is still on the minds of many.

“You get back, and you see the players you care about and see the pain on their face. We had a real emotional meeting. I don’t know if emotional is the right word, but just like you would with any type of family members going through a hard time. From that point forward, they’ve been fine,” Meyer said.

The coaches and players are attempting to shake off the loss (a feeling unknown to many newcomers on the team) and silence criticism of the formerly long undefeated Buckeyes.

Kickoff between the No. 7 Buckeyes (12-1, 8-1) and the No. 12 Clemson Tigers (10-2) is set for 8:30 p.m. Friday at Sun Life Stadium.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 2, 2014

An earlier version of this article stated that the Orange Bowl would take place Thursday Jan. 2, when it in fact is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 3.


  1. The Orange Bowl is Friday, not Thursday.

  2. If the players take a page from Kenny G, we will be fine! This is OSU! Backup players would be starting somewhere else. Let’s go, Bucks! No excuses!!

  3. Go Bucks!

  4. Curious to know why you leave Miller in on that last series when he has a broken rib and bruised throwing shoulder and expect him to raise up that bruised shoulder and throw it over the Clemson linebacker. Both of those injuries do not allow you to execute that play….and that was a well designed play that Philly Brown was wide open down the middle for a long gain if not a score. I do recall Coach Meyer saying that OSU has the best back-up quarterback in the country….I do remember Kenny G. saving OSU in 3 games with poise, good decision making and a strong arm. It looked pretty obvious to everyone watching on national TV. A little disappointing that team doctors and coaches didn’t make the right call with Miller here. Those kind of injuries do not allow a quarterback to make that kind of throw….Miller was injured and could not execute on that last series. You do not leave that up to the player to tell you I’m ok….of course he is going to say he can play…..that was not the time for hero’s…it was the time for another strong and healthy leader like Kenny to move the team. Good season. Miller has another year…this was not going to be his last game at OSU. Sorry Coach Meyer….you are a very successful coach at this level…..but I think you expected to much from a player with these kind of injuries with the game in the balance. OSU has some holes to plug on defense and I hope that OSU coaches can really work with Miller on the off season to get some air under his long passes and seem routes….this is his only short coming….great athlete….great competitor. Looking forward to some help with linebackers and defensive backs this fall. OSU needs to become that feared defense again. It would also be nice to see bigger quarterbacks that can throw over the top of the defenses in the years to come…..when you get to the big games and especially in the playoff next year these teams that compete for the National title will have great defenses….strong running games…and a big quarterback that can throw the seam routes, long deep balls and outside shoulder throws to win against strong defenses.(like Florida State). Alabama proved it with 6’4″ MacCarron….MSU proved it with their 6’5″ quarterback from Ohio…..this is a team game and sometimes you have to look at the 3 star player that has the physical skills and then develop them….we will see one on Monday night.

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