When Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby turned down a likely first-round selection in last year's NFL draft, he returned to Columbus with the plans to improve as a player and help the Buckeyes win a national championship.
While No. 4 Ohio State is still in contention for a national title bid, Roby's production has slipped dramatically on the field.
This week against Penn State, Roby will be facing his stiffest test of the year when he lines up against Allen Robinson.
Robinson, fresh off a breakout sophomore campaign that netted first-team All-Big Ten honors, has continued his solid play to become the Big Ten's most consistent wide receiver. The 6'3", 210-pound playmaker is averaging 117 receiving yards per game, good for 10th nationally, and paces a dynamic Nittany Lions passing attack.
Roby, who also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a redshirt sophomore, hasn't carried over that consistency.
The Buckeyes' pass defense, which was supposed to be one of the team's strengths, is giving up a bloated average of 240 yards per game.
Roby has been picked on—first in Week 3 against Cal when he gave up two touchdown passes, then two weeks later against Wisconsin, when Jared Abbrederis torched him for 10 catches, 207 yards and a touchdown.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell told Eric Seger of The Lantern that part of Roby's struggles stem from the Buckeyes' efforts to stop the run.
We gotta do some things to give (Roby) a chance, man. We gotta do a better job of not putting him in those (one-on-one) situations all the time. Every now and then it’s one thing, but to let (Wisconsin redshirt-sophomore quarterback Joel Stave) sit back there and have time to just heave the ball up on a guy that’s a really good football player, it’s probably not fair to (Roby).
There are others, like Draft Headquarters' Shawn Zobel, who think Roby's struggles aren't related to scheme but rather technique.
Regardless, the certainty facing Roby is that he needs to pick up his play against Robinson this week.
According to Mike Huguenin of NFL.com, Robinson is looking forward to the challenge.
"Roby is definitely one of the better cornerbacks in our league, so it's definitely going to be a challenge," Robinson said. "But as a receiver, you kind of get excited to play."
Urban Meyer, on the other hand, told Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors what he needs from his All-American defensive back.
Roby vs. Robinson will be one of the more dynamic individual matchups of the game this Saturday. Whoever comes out on top will be giving his team a great chance to win.
All stats via NCAA.com.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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