Targeting Call Sends Roby to Locker Room Early
By Rob Ogden
Already playing without senior safety Christian Bryant, the Ohio State defense lost another key member of its secondary Saturday when All-American corner back Bradley Roby was ejected from the game for targeting a defenseless receiver.
Roby drew the flag on a first-quarter hit on Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorwicz. The play was reviewed, the call was confirmed, and Roby was escorted to the locker room to the dismay of the Ohio State faithful.
hits C. J. Fiedorwicz knocking out his mouth piece. Roby was ejected from the game for the hit for "Targeting".
Photo by Jim Davidson
Because the ejection occurred in the first half, Roby will not be forced to miss any further game action. Had it been a second-half penalty, the cornerback would have had to miss the first half of Ohio State's game against Penn State next weekend.
Coach Urban Meyer said he thought the hit was below the shoulder, but kept his words brief, adding, "I got fined $30,000 one time for going after an official, so I'm not going to do that."
Meyer did say he was hoping to receive more clarification on the rule.
According to the rulebook, a player shall be flagged for any hit in which he initiates contact vs. the opponent with the crown of his helmet or initiates contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.
Roby led the hit with his shoulder, though his helmet did appear to come in contact with the receiver.
After much talk about the rule during camp, Roby is the first Ohio State player to be ejected for targeting this season.
"We talked about (the rule), we brought in a Big Ten top guy (for officiating) and talked about it all through camp," co-defensive coordinate Luke Fickell said. "We have to go back and evaluate and see what it looks like. The officials made the call that they did. We don't have to agree with it, I haven't seen it, but in that point in time we were a little worried an focused on something else and had to move on."
Without Roby, the Buckeyes struggled to get off the field on third down, especially in the first half, when Iowa converted on seven of nine third-down attempts.
Fickell said Roby's absence played a factor in their struggles.
"It affects most on third down, but in the first half we didn't get them into those situations that we could use it as much," he said. "It was one of those things that puts a knot in your stomach, not just because you lost Bradley Roby but because you lost your dime now and maybe your third down package kind of went to the wayside just a little bit."
The Buckeyes trailed 7-3 at the time of the hit, but came back to win the game 34-24 behind the strength of quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde.
"It kind of sucked because he's an All-American type corner," linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "He's one of our main guys out there."
Safety C.J. Barnett said the hit provided a spark for the defense. Receiver Evan Spencer didn't get a good look at the hit from his vantage point, but he did feel the energy surge it provided.
"It did get under our skin, but at the end of the day we knew we had to play football," Spencer said. "Whether it was targeting or it wasn't, I'm not really sure because I didn't get a good look at it, but I know we get him back next game and that will be good. In terms of it lighting a fire under us, we kind of knew we had to get going, and that just kind of added to the flame."
Saturday wasn't the first time the Buckeye secondary was forced to play without its best corner. Roby was suspended for the first game of the season after being arrested for an altercation that occurred outside a bar in Bloomington, Ind. Armani Reeves started in Roby's place, and replaced him Saturday, as well.
"It's next guy up," lineman Joel Hale said. "Armani had to step up and play just as well as Roby today and I think he did a pretty good job of it."
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