Buckeye Defense Being Decimated
By Rob Ogden
First Noah Spence, now Bradley Roby and Curtis Grant, too.
A defense that has struggled mightily against the pass recently might be without its top pass rusher and its best pass defender.
Roby, an All-Big Ten cornerback, is rehabbing from a knee injury and might not be ready for Friday's Orange Bowl against Clemson, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said Monday.
This news comes a day after coach Urban Meyer announced the team might be without Spence — Ohio State's sack leader — as well.
Spence was left in Columbus due to "personal issues" and the team is hopeful he will be able to rejoin them in time to play Friday.
Senior linebacker Curtis Grant might be inactive, as well. Fickell said Grant is still dealing with the same back issues that limited him in the later portion of the season.
He called Roby "day-to-day."
"We're not sure how ready he'll be," Fickell said.
If Roby can't go, sophomore Armani Reeves will step into his place, he said.
Reeves has started one game this season, and also played significant time in Roby's absence — including in the Big Ten Championship game Dec. 7.
Doran Grant will occupy the other corner position, but he's unsure if Roby will be opposite of him.
"He might. He might not, but he's working to get back," Grant said. "He's rehabbing. He's staying mentally prepared. Any injury playing football can affect your game."
Both Roby and Spence were scheduled to meet with the media Monday, but neither were present.
Defensive tackle Michael Bennett said he hasn't spoken to Spence since the team departed for Florida. He said he was planning to send him a text Monday to "check on him."
Senior linebacker Ryan Shazier didn't understate Spence's importance.
"It will be a huge loss if Noah can't play and we'll need some guys to step up if he won't be able to," Shazier said. "He's our sack leader on the team right now. He's one of the top in the Big Ten and gets consistent pressure on the quarterback. He has a lot of experience and if we don't have him out there it will be a tremendous loss."
Fickell confirmed sophomore Jamal Marcus will play if Spence cannot.
"Next man up," he said.
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