All this week, Buckeye Empire has taken you through a journey, looking at the 2013 Ohio State Cornerbacks situation. We’ve explored the new guys, the future All-American, and even contemplated how to replace an effective playmaker at the position. In this article, we will once again break down what needs to happen at the corner position in order for the Buckeyes to be playing for the Crystal Football in January.
It is no surprise to anyone that Bradley Roby is the talk of the unit. After all, he is projected to be the first corner off the board in the next NFL draft and with any small amount of luck, will see himself as the starting corner on the All-American team after this coming season. Almost anyone who has a passing interest in Ohio State football knows what Roby needs to do. He needs to continue his ability to shut down opposing teams’ #1 receivers, forcing them to throw to the more inexperienced Doran Grant/Armani Reeves/Adam Griffin.
But what do those young gentlemen need to do in order to play for it all? They need to take a page out of Roby’s handbook and be that complementary guy on the other side. They need to realize that they will be tested early and often because, just like Roby’s NFL comparison Darrelle Revis, teams are going to shy away from that side of the field. They need to be ready to not only anticipate the pass and step into passing lanes, but also to blanket their marks so that if the pass does manage to get off, they have the opportunity to make a play on either the ball or immediately pull down the receiver should they be lucky enough to catch the pigskin.
In my estimation, the off corners will be the ones most thrown at on long balls, but I can totally forsee opposing teams using the mid and short range passes either in the flat or over the middle on slants rather than test what should shape up to be the best corner unit in the conference, if not the country. Opposing coaches know that the linebacker corps at Ohio State is not necessarily up to the lofty standards set by the likes of A.J. Hawk or James Laurinitis and will use that to their advantage, right up to the point that Ryan Shazier pulls down an interception and steamrolls everyone on his way to a Pick 6.
What is most important with the corner unit is that each man needs to heed the “next man up” mantra. The cornerbacks unit is probably the deepest unit on the defensive side of the ball which means two things. Number one is that they all need to be ready in the unfortunate situation that the starter goes down. Number two is that Coach Kerry Coombs has some flexibility in his coverage packages because the unit has so many playmakers on it. From the two starters to incoming guys like Eli Apple and Cam Burrows to the young men already with a year of experience under their belts, each and every man will need to be ready to step on the field at any given moment and give it 1000% if Ohio State is to overcome each team on their schedule en route to a National Championship berth.