Spence Suspended for Three Games, Roby Out for Orange Bowl
By Rob Ogden
Ohio State sophomore defensive end Noah Spence has been suspended three games, beginning with Friday's Orange Bowl against Clemson for violating an unspecified Big Ten rule, the team announced Wednesday morning.
Spence never made the trip down to Florida, and his status was in question all week. On Sunday, coach Urban Meyer said they were hoping Spence would be able to play.
Instead, he won't be able to play until the third game of the 2014 season, when the Buckeyes face Kent State on Sept. 13.
Meyer became frustrated when repeatedly asked about the suspension Wednesday afternoon after a rain-soaked practice at Nova Southeastern University.
"We're going to move on," he said after being asked about Spence for the fourth time. "Any other questions you guys got?"
Meyer did say that he was disappointed in Spence, and added that the sophomore is one of his favorite players.
According to a team release, Spence's parents did not agree with the league's ruling, and Ohio State's department of athletics assisted the family in appealing it, which is why there was some hope Spence would be able to join the Buckeyes in Florida.
They were unsuccessful in their attempts.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday that Spence used an "unapproved dietary supplement."
The league would not specify the reason for the suspension when contacted by The Ozone.
Spence led the Buckeyes and ranked second in the Big Ten with 8 sacks. He had 52 total tackles including 14.5 tackles for loss.
Monday, co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell sad sophomore Jamal Marcus and junior Steve Miller would fill in for Spence if the Harrisburg, Pa. native could not play.
"Those are guys that probably haven't seen nearly as much action throughout the year, but they're guys who have practiced every single day, taken those reps," Fickell said. "That's a part of the game, whether we like it or don't like it. These guys all know it.
"What that does is puts a little more heat on your guys that are leaders to say, 'Come on, let's continue to move forward.' These guys are here for a reason. They're on scholarship for a reason."
Bradley Roby, rehabbing from a bruised knee he suffered in the Big Ten Championship game Dec. 7, is not expected to play in Friday's Orange Bowl, Meyer said Wednesday after a rain-soaked practice at Nova Southeastern University.
Roby did not participate in drills Monday and Tuesday while reporters were allowed to watch practice.
He was limited to jogging up and down the sideline while his teammates prepared to face Clemson.
Meyer said he previously believed Roby would be ready to play by Friday, but as the week progressed it became clear the All-Big Ten cornerback was not progressing.
"I don't think he's going to make it," Meyer said.
The redshirt junior has already announced his intentions to enter the 2014 NFL draft, meaning his Ohio State playing career is over.
Without Roby and defensive end Noah Spence, the Buckeyes will be without their best pass defender and their best pass rusher, as well.
Sophomore Armani Reeves will start in Roby's place, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said.
Flu Continues To Spread, Miller Healthy
Meyer said Wednesday that junior tight end Jeff Heuerman has contracted the flu bug that is circulating the team and was forced to stay home while the Buckeyes practiced.
Heuerman is at least the second starter that the team has confirmed has contracted the bug.
The team announced Tuesday morning that quarterback Braxton Miller has been affected by the bug, as well. Miller missed his morning interview session but was able to take part in Tuesday afternoon's practice.
Miller said Wednesday that he was feeling fine, but said the symptoms were pretty bad.
Meyer said the bug is a 24-hour virus, so he doesn't think Heuerman's status for Friday's game is in question.
Meyer said Monday that "four or five" players had contracted the bug.
Grant Good to Go
Meyer said Wednesday that junior middle linebacker Curtis Grant should be fine for Friday's game.
Grant has been dealing with lingering back issues that limited him during the final weeks of the regular season.
Grant appeared to participate fully in practice while reporters looked on Monday and Tuesday.
The Richmond, Va. native has 51 tackles and 2.5 sacks this season.
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