Monday, January 14, 2013
Record resolutions: Goal for returning Roby
By Austin Ward
Ohio State hardly needs motivation thanks to the chip on its shoulder already firmly in place after sitting out the postseason with a perfect record. But just in case any players required any extra fuel heading into workouts or wanted a little help putting together some goals, BuckeyeNation is here to lend a hand with some records that could be in reach with another productive offseason.
CAREER INTERCEPTION RETURNS FOR TOUCHDOWNS
Cornerback Bradley Roby is returning to OSU for his junior season with an eye on turning some of his pass breakups into interceptions.
Who owns it: There's a tie at the top between seven players, but Malcolm Jenkins was the last Ohio State defender to turn a couple interceptions into touchdowns. Nobody has ever done it three times for the Buckeyes, despite the long list of productive, elite defensive backs who have come through the program. There's a cornerback still on the roster who has made it well known he wants to be included on that conversation, and he's halfway to tying Jenkins and Co.
Who wants it:Bradley Roby isn't really returning to set records, but he certainly had an eye on his legacy when he decided to return for his redshirt junior campaign after flirting with the idea of leaving for the NFL draft. The dynamic playmaker turned in one of the best coverage seasons in the country in helping the Buckeyes go undefeated, but he can still boost his professional stock. He hasn't yet had a chance to play for the championship he craves and will be a hungry player heading into the offseason.
Relevant number: If the discussion included fumble returns or trips to the end zone, Roby's knack for putting points on the board from multiple spots on the field already makes him one of the most versatile scorers the Buckeyes have had in a while. Along with his interception return against Nebraska that leaves him just one short of tying that career mark for Ohio State. As a sophomore Roby tacked on two more touchdowns on special teams -- pouncing on an errant snap for a score and recovering a blocked punt for another.
Offseason checklist: Urban Meyer threw down the challenge for Roby to compete on every snap and fight off complacency during training camp last season, and he answered the bell by making a point to establish his dominance regardless of any perceived talent disparity throughout the year. The next step is continuing to improve technically and building himself into a more consistent fundamental player in coverage. Roby's athleticism allows for him to erase most of his mistakes, using his incredible accelerating and closing speed to disrupt passes even on the rare occasion he gets beat. But if he cuts down on just that relatively small number, all those breakups he racked up last season could turn into picks.
Attainable goal: Opponents couldn't just avoid Roby last season with Travis Howard raising his level of play and making either side of the field dangerous for quarterbacks, and part of the formula for Roby to tie or break the scoring record will depend on the amount of chances he gets to make a play on the football. One thing he can control, though, is making sure he stays focused as a student of the game, searching out tendencies and weaknesses of both the receivers and passers he'll face each week -- something he's already done, with the results to prove it against Nebraska last year.