Ohio State's Urban Meyer changes his backfield rotation, and Bri'onte Dunn is the odd man out.
All week long, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said Jordan Hall would start at running back in place of suspended starter, Carlos Hyde. Then, Rod Smith, who was in the mix to start, got suspended and that meant GlenOak High School graduate Bri’onte Dunn would get a crack to play in Saturday’s opener against Buffalo.
Meyer said after Hall, Dunn and Warren Ball would be the next two running backs.
They weren’t. Meyer went to Ball, and then freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott. Dunn did not play a snap on offense.
A regular practice observer said there was nothing unusual about the way Dunn practiced this past week. Usually, Meyer would make playing time decisions on how well players practice. Dunn played in last year’s opener against Miami University.
What does it say about Dunn’s status on the depth chart? Right now it could mean he’s behind Hall, Ball, Wilson and Elliott. He was behind Rod Smith in practice before Smith’s one-game suspension.
Ohio State has an abundance of depth at running back. Whether or not Dunn fits, well, it’s still a long season.
MISSING IN ACTION
Strong safety C.J. Barnett did not play because of an ankle injury. Meyer said it was a game-time decision. When linebacker Ryan Shazier missed most of the second and third quarters with cramps, Ohio State’s defense was one of the most inexperienced units in years for the Buckeyes.
“I saw some things I liked,” Meyer said. “The things that drives you nuts are the little dinks and dunks, I feel we don’t trigger on.”
Meyer was referring to early on when Armani Reeves, making his first start for suspended cornerback Bradley Robey, was thrown at with several short passes because he was giving up an 8-yard cushion.
Ohio State caught a break when the score was 30-20. Quarterback Braxton Miller was sacked by Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack and he appeared to fumble on the play. Buffalo recovered inside the Ohio State 5.
But Mack was called for illegal hands to face before the sack, and it was a 15-yard penalty and a first down for the Buckeyes at their 37.
“That turnover changed the game,” Mack said. “That was a blow. A big blow.”
Without the penalty, it would have been interesting to see what a 30-27 game would have looked like.
Ohio State has the country’s longest winning streak at 13 games. … Meyer is 12-0 in season openers as a head coach. He is 43-4 in games played in August and September. … Devin Smith’s 47-yard TD reception was the 11th TD of his career. His previous 10 went for an average of 39.3 yards. …. Miller’s 77 yards rushing put him over 2,000 for his career (2,063). He is 17 yards shy of Cornelius Greene’s Ohio State-record 2,080 rushing yards for a quarterback. … Reeves played every snap at cornerback. The most plays he had played before this was two.