Another week, another disciplinary issue for the Ohio State football team.
Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell opened his Thursday afternoon meeting with the media by announcing that reserve cornerback Dominic Clarke will not be with the team Saturday when the Buckeyes travel to No. 16 Illinois. Fickell said Clarke was involved in a university rules violation, one that will keep away from the team when it heads to Champaign.
“He’s very remorseful,” Fickell said. “It was just a little thing that happened on campus. It’s not something we’re dwelling upon, and we’ll leave it at that.”
Franklin County Municipal Court records show that Clarke was cited for disorderly conduct on Sunday. He has an arraignment scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m.
Clarke’s absence will make the Buckeyes juggle their depth chart. Freshman Doran Grant likely becomes the No. 3 corner, and Fickell said sophomore Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown could slide back to the corner position from safety. Brown was originally a cornerback but moved to safety last season.
In addition to the changes in the secondary, Fickell confirmed that sophomore Kenny Guiton has seen more reps at quarterback this week. The head coach said that the coaching staff want both Guiton and fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman to be prepared to play if called upon in case anything happens to starter Braxton Miller.
“We want those guys to be ready,” Fickell said. “Who knows what can happen if one or two guys go down. You always have to have people who are ready. You’ve always got to have a plan for what you’re going to do.”
“There’s been many more opportunities for Kenny Guiton to get a lot more work,” Fickell added.
As for Miller, Fickell piggybacked on what quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said Wednesday in that the freshman has had a good week of practice and will be good to go against the Fighting Illini. Miller tweaked his right ankle last weekend in Ohio State’s loss to Nebraska, forcing Bauserman into the game. The fifth-year senior struggled, completing only 1 of 10 passes as the Cornhuskers rallied to beat the Buckeyes 34-27.
“He’s moved around. He hasn’t let it hamper him. He hasn’t let it affect him emotionally,” Fickell said of Miller. “I think that’s the most important thing. A lot of guys can be ready for Saturday. It’s those guys that can be ready for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that get better. I think that’s what he’s shown this week.
“Whether it hurts or not, he hasn’t shown a whole lot of that. I’m sure it hurts a little bit, just like everybody on the team has a little something in the seventh week of the season, but he’s done a great job of battling and continuing to get better through the week.”
Fickell also addressed Ohio State’s situation at tailback. Fifth-year senior Boom Herron returns to the field after missing six games because of NCAA rules violations. The official depth chart does not list Herron, instead keeping junior Jordan Hall and sophomore Carlos Hyde as the top-two tailbacks. However, Fickell said who will rush the ball depends on circumstances.
“Everybody’s got a little bit of a different role, depending on what the situation is and what the plays are,” Fickell said. “Sometimes guys are better at certain plays, and guys are better at other plays.”
Herron and the rest of OSU’s stable of rushers have been rotating with different groups during practice this week. That includes some work with the scout team.
The weather for Saturday afternoon’s game does not appear to be an issue, with the Weather Channel’s forecast listing the high at 68 degrees under sunny skies. Even so, Fickell has been to Memorial Stadium enough to know that the weather usually does play a factor in every game there.
“You know there’s going to be some type of weather involved, whether it’s wind, rain or snow,” Fickell said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any snow there, but you never really know what you’re going to get.”
Fickell added that he expects the crowd to be amped up. Illinois is asking fans to “stripe the stadium,” with fans in some sections wearing blue and others wearing orange.
“Obviously when they are the way they are (with Illinois unbeaten at 6-0), their fans are going to be behind them,” Fickell said. “They’re going to be wild. They’re going to be crazy. It’s going to be an exciting game.”