Ohio State cornerback Cameron Brown out for season, thinning secondary depth

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Teammates check on Ohio State defensive back Cameron Brown as he was carted off the field after suffering an Achilles injury late in Saturday's win against Penn State.

Coach Ryan Day knew Ohio State’s secondary was thin on experience when the season began last month.

Day's knowledge turned to concern when junior Cameron Brown was carted off the field late in the Buckeyes' win at Penn State last Saturday.

Brown, a junior, had injured his Achilles tendon, sidelining one of the Buckeyes’ top reserve cornerbacks for the remainder of the season.

“Cam came with experience this season and in a position that we couldn't afford to lose anyone,” Day said. “It’s a significant hit.”

Among the seven cornerbacks on scholarship, Brown was one of five returners and had appeared in every game last fall. In two games this season he was a backup behind Sevyn Banks, who was starting at cornerback opposite Shaun Wade, the lone returning starter in the secondary.

Day circled a handful of potential candidates who could see more snaps in response to Brown’s absence.

They are younger options, including Tyreke Johnson, a third-year sophomore who made his college debut a year ago, and Ryan Watts, a freshman who enrolled early last winter. Fellow freshman Lejond Cavazos could also see more playing time, but he was listed as unable to play for OSU's first two games.

“Those guys are going to have to step up in a big way,” Day said.

Defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs said the Buckeyes already had been bracing for the potential hits to depth this season, which is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Positive cases could sideline players for weeks, in addition to the injuries that can pile up in a typical fall.

“The whole next-man-up thing is no joke," Coombs said, “and especially this year. I think we've been training our guys from June for the possibility of having to be able to play in a game suddenly. I think that's really important, to try to prepare them for that.”

Schedule change

The Buckeyes held practice Monday rather than Tuesday, which was mandated as an off day by the NCAA in order to allow for players and coaches to vote.

"It's very different," Day said. "That's kind of out of our routine.”

Team activities were limited on Sunday as the team prepared to practice Monday. During the week ahead of a game, Tuesday’s practice is typically the most physical for players and has previously been referred to as “Bloody Tuesday.”

The emphasis began under former Urban Meyer, Day's predecessor.

“It's the same for everybody across the board,” Day said, “so we just have to handle it better than Rutgers.”

Day noted that most of Ohio State’s coaches and players had already voted ahead of Election Day by casting absentee ballots or participating in early voting.

Day said Monday's practice was a good workout and was very spirited, despite the early start to the week and smaller recovery time from last weekend.

“Now the guys have today (Tuesday) to catch their breath,” Day said. “We'll just come back with it on Wednesday.”

Kicking concerns

The status of kicker Blake Haubeil is up in the air ahead of this week’s game against Rutgers. Haubeil left the win at Penn State with a groin injury and did not return.

“I don’t know exactly how long it's going to be,” Day said, “if he'll be ready tomorrow or if it's kind of a day-to-day thing.”

Walk-on Dominic DiMaccio replaced Haubeil when he was pulled from the game after missing a 20-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.

But DiMaccio also missed a 23-yard try late in the second half, drawing some frustration out of Day, who lamented the kicks that went wide of the uprights, calling them ridiculous.

“Those are chip shots,” Day said.