Ohio State's secondary was seen as a team strength entering the season, but after Saturday's performance against Wisconsin and the season-ending broken ankle to senior safety Christian Bryant, there are some concerns.
Bryant (5-feet-10, 193 pounds) was injured on the penultimate play in the Buckeyes' 31-24 victory. He helped on the tackle of Badgers running back James White on a screen pass, and while he was on the ground, it appeared that cornerback Doran Grant landed on his ankle. Bryant hobbled to the sideline after the play.
Bryant was considered a likely third-day pick in the 2014 draft. He already has had surgery, and recovery time is expected to be three months, which means he should be 100 percent healthy by the time the Buckeyes' pro day rolls around. He is a physical safety with OK coverage skills; he covered a lot of ground and was active in run support.
He was a third-year starter in the secondary, and joined with fellow senior C.J. Barnett to give the Buckeyes one of the nation's best safety duos. Those two teamed with junior cornerback Bradley Roby, considered the nation's best at his position entering the season, to form the nucleus of what was supposed to be a lockdown secondary.
But Wisconsin's pedestrian passing attack shredded the Buckeyes on Saturday night. Badgers seniors wide receiver Jared Abbrederis grabbed 10 receptions for 207 yards and a touchdown, and he dominated his one-on-one matchup with Roby.
Sophomore Ron Tanner (6-0, 200) -- who made two tackles in 2012, when he played mostly on special teams -- was listed behind Bryant on the depth chart; he has six tackles and an interception this season. But senior Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown (6-0, 203) and touted true freshman Vonn Bell (5-11, 190) seem more likely to become the new starter. Brown usually backs up Barnett, but coaches may choose to use him as a starter because of his experience.
Coach Urban Meyer called Bryant one of the team's best leaders, and that also is something to watch going forward.
That revamped secondary will be tested this week at Northwestern. The Wildcats use a lot of three-receiver sets, so the Buckeyes likely will counter will nickel and dime sets, and Bryant's absence will test the Buckeyes' depth.
The secondary also will be tested in games against Penn State (Oct. 26), Illinois (Nov. 16), Indiana (Nov. 23) and Michigan (Nov. 30).
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.