Ohio State spotlight: QB J.T. Barrett October 31, 2014 Source: Columbus Dispatch - J.T. Barrett gutted it out a week ago. Despite a left knee sprain, the Ohio State quarterback made plays with his feet, especially in double overtime, that helped rescue the win at Penn State, and earned him praise from coach Urban Meyer.
But the coach left no doubt this week he also wants to see more from the redshirt freshman tonight when the Buckeyes — going for a Big Ten record-tying 20th straight regular season league win — host Illinois. Barrett did not have a sharp passing game at Penn State. Among other things, the two interceptions he threw, including the pick six at the start of the second half, were major factors in the Nittany Lions getting back into it after trailing 17-0 at the half.
“Proper reads, and throwing with authority,” Meyer said were the points he reinforced with Barrett this week. “He didn’t play great (last week). He played with a lot of heart but didn’t play with a lot of, uh, smarts or something. But that happens, and you don’t want to take credit away from the team you played because they (PSU defenders) played really well.
“He’s just got to play smarter. I guess he made a few freshman mistakes which didn’t show up the previous three or four weeks.”
Barrett remained No. 3 in the nation in passing efficiency this week, and with 21 touchdown passes is just nine away from the single-season school record. But he said of course there were things he and the offense could improve, like handling incessant blitzes better, something they’re bound to see again today. And there was one major lesson learned by him and the Buckeyes. .
“Definitely don’t count the other team out, always try to be the aggressor, because I feel like even my own mindset as far as the offense took a defensive type of mentality in that game, being that we were up 17-0,” Barrett said. “So don’t count them out, because then that situation doesn’t happen, we’re not going into double overtime. Stay aggressive, be on the attack, keep on being ahead so you don’t have to come back again.”
Barrett noticed a blitz and made the right decision to throw to a hot receiver, the guy who is open quickly. It just didn't work.
"He threw hot, and they schemed us up pretty good. So that was not one that was a schematical thing," Meyer said. "A veteran quarterback would just probably burn it, which means throw it into the ground. But that is the correct read is to throw hot, and it's called hot. You hear that a lot. When they bring more than you can block, which they did, you have a sight adjustment hot, and you throw to them, which we've done a few times this year.
"But in those situations, veteran quarterbacks like just burn it."...
His arm might not be the strongest, but the Buckeyes have seen him consistently put the football where it needs to be with accuracy and to a variety of targets. He might not be the fastest runner in the country, but the redshirt freshman is certainly athletic and intelligent enough to operate the zone-read attack and pile up yardage. He has proven to have the brains to memorize the playbook, has established a voice that can command a huddle ,and he has the confidence to speak his mind in the locker room.
Ohio State largely was able to learn all that about Barrett without all that much adversity, at least relative to what he was facing on the sideline last weekend before a make-or-break drive in overtime against one of the nation’s toughest defenses backed by a white-out student section making it hard to even think. But the meaningful lessons, the truly revealing moments for a player at Barrett’s position, come when the stakes are highest -- and that’s when Urban Meyer evaluates a quarterback’s eyes.
“I'll probably never forget that look,” the Ohio State coach said. “The more you’re around him, he’s just a very serious guy who handles his business on and off the field. To see what he did in that game in overtime, in that environment, it just -- I had him stand up in front of the team [after the game].
“To say that I really knew him a year and a half ago, I did not. Now I do.”...
25 words or fewer The Buckeyes escaped Happy Valley, but doubters will abound after what was looking easy suddenly looked so difficult. Frisky Illinois no doubt took notes.
In the polls
The Buckeyes are No.?13 in both polls, dropping one spot in the coaches’ poll. What will the College Football Playoff committee think of Ohio State when its first top 25 comes out on Tuesday night?
Defensive end Joey Bosa. He came up big when needed the most: on fourth-and-5 in the second overtime. His bull-rush shove of a would-be pass-protecting running back into the legs of Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg will be on the OSU 2014 highlights DVD. Bosa, with 21/2 sacks on Saturday night, leads the Big Ten with eight.
What’s not hot?
The offense. Penn State was No.?6 in the country in total defense going into the game, but the Buckeyes put together several nice drives in the first half on the way to a 17-0 lead. Quarters three and four were disjointed efforts by the offense, though, especially because J.T. Barrett — No.?3 in the country in passing efficiency headed in — was not hot at all. He missed on several passes that could have put it away, and the pick-six he tossed to defensive lineman Anthony Zettel and the interception he threw to linebacker Mike Hull to set up another TD flipped the game.
What went right?
Barrett’s game in overtime. He took over, ostensibly running the option but with the obvious intention to win the game with his feet. He rushed for 32 yards and both touchdowns in the two overtimes.
Back to drawing board
Third-and-short. The Buckeyes weren’t stoned on every third-and-1; it just seemed like it. They were intent on running the ball against what had been the nation’s No.?1 defense against the run (60.2-yard average) and wound up with 219, led by Ezekiel Elliott’s 109 that included a 10-yard TD run. But the offense had no rhythm in the second half, and wide receivers hardly factored into the passing game, making just three of the team’s 12 receptions.
Barrett suffered an apparent knee bump, but in overtime he ran with gusto. It was a hard-hitting game that could have some residual effects early in the week, but there were no other obvious injuries.
Punter Cameron Johnston saw his most extensive action since the loss to Virginia Tech, punting six times for a 45.0-yard average. Four were downed inside the 20-yard line, including one at the 1 by Devin Smith.
Illinois, which is coming off just its second Big Ten victory in three seasons under coach Tim Beckman. But it was a doozy, an upset at home of Minnesota. The Illini have rallied after losing quarterback Wes Lunt to a broken leg: Reilly O’Toole went 14 of 21 for 118 yards and a TD against the Golden Gophers. But it was linebacker T.J. Neal’s forced fumble from Minnesota running back David Cobb that was returned for a TD by cornerback V’Angelo Bentley that delivered the decisive play.
This week’s challenge
It’s natural for OSU fans and critics to turn their attention to the regular season’s ultimate challenge for the Buckeyes, the prime-time challenge at Michigan State in two weeks. But coach Urban Meyer was quick to point out that his only focus will be on the prime-time game with Illinois this week, and he expects the same from the players. That likely will be the case, considering the great escape from Happy Valley has to be sitting heavy on the psyche.
There are several places in college football where the national spotlight fixates, and Ohio Stadium is one. When Urban Meyer is prowling the sidelines, the glare is even brighter.
But Ohio State has been somewhat of a forgotten team since 11:54 p.m. ET on Sept. 6. That's the moment when Virginia Tech completed a 35-21 win against the Buckeyes in Columbus.
It wasn't just the shock of the loss or that it marked Ohio State's third defeat in four games after a 24-0 start under Meyer. It was that Ohio State fulfilled the doom-and-gloom outlook many had after quarterback Braxton Miller's season-ending shoulder injury in August.
The Buckeyes stalled against Bud Foster's complex, aggressive defense. Quarterback J.T. Barrett, making his first home start, completed 9 of 29 pass attempts with three interceptions and a touchdown. An offensive line featuring four new starters surrendered seven sacks, and the Buckeyes averaged just 2.7 yards per rush. The supposedly upgraded defense showed the same old warts against the pass and especially on third down (9 of 17 converted).
It was one of those worst-fears-fulfilled kinds of nights. The loss, while surprising, followed a narrative many had mapped out the moment Miller's labrum tore during an innocuous throw in practice.
So Ohio State became a forgotten team nationally and, to a degree, in the Big Ten -- as crazy as that sounds.
Well, it's time to take notice again. No Big Ten team is playing better than No. 13 Ohio State. And few quarterbacks nationally are playing better than Barrett.
Since the Virginia Tech loss, the Buckeyes' numbers are staggering. They've outscored their opponents 224-69. They set a team record with four consecutive games of 50 or more points and tied a team mark with four straight games of 500 or more yards.
Barrett's four-game line: 1,170 pass yards, 17 touchdowns, one interception (none in the past three games), 68.3 percent completions, 263 rush yards, three touchdowns.
"He's throwing it on time, throwing it early, trusting what he sees, directing traffic, going through his progressions, not getting freaked out with a little pressure," offensive coordinator Tom Herman recently told me.
He has accounted for at least four touchdowns in all four games, the longest active streak in the country and the longest for a Big Ten quarterback since former Purdue star Kyle Orton in 2004, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner once again worked his magic, simplifying things so a group that looked like a liability in Week 2 has become a strength.
"Until you understand Algebra 1, you can't take Algebra 2," Warinner told me. "You just have to be patient and trust that playing hard and having good fundamentals will carry you through. Eventually, you can build on that with your changeups, your exceptions, your adjustments.
"People get caught up in thinking, 'I'm a really good coach. I've got these guys who never played and look at all this stuff I told them.' And you don't get anything done."
Ohio State also is getting it done on defense during the win streak: 12 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, eight interceptions. The Buckeyes held both Maryland and Rutgers well below their averages for yards and points. They suddenly rank in the top 25 nationally in points allowed (24th), opponent adjusted QBR (21st), pass yards allowed (16th) and first downs allowed (20th).
"We're playing at a pretty high level right now," Meyer said of his defense.
But what about the competition? Ohio State hasn't beaten a ranked team during its run. Unlike teams in the SEC, Pac-12 or Big 12, the Buckeyes' schedule has allowed them to regain their mojo. But you play who you play, and Ohio State has destroyed everything in its path.
It's all pointing to the Nov. 8 showdown at No. 8 Michigan State, which hasn't lost at home since 2012. Both teams won 56-17 on Saturday, but Ohio State seems to be playing at a higher level. The Buckeyes are No. 5 nationally in ESPN's Football Power Index, which measures team strength as a future predictor.
According to FPI, Ohio State has a 48.5 percent chance to win the Big Ten, the third-highest percentage of any Power 5 team and by far the highest percentage in the league, as defending champion Michigan State has just a 23.7 percent chance. Yes, we all know FPI has never been high on the Spartans, who remain the team to beat in this league until proved otherwise.
But the numbers favor Ohio State, which, according to FPI, is the one-loss team from a Power 5 conference with the best chance (27 percent) to finish with just the sole blemish.
So everyone must pay attention to the Buckeyes again, including the playoff selection committee. Virginia Tech is a bad loss that seems to be getting worse. But the circumstances surrounding Ohio State with Miller's injury should be considered, if the committee members stay true to their word.
Ohio State has few résumé-boosting opportunities left: trips to Michigan State and Minnesota, and the Big Ten title game.
But if the Buckeyes continue on this trajectory, they should be in a familiar spot: playing for championships.
25 words or fewer Ohio State and J.T. Barrett are streaking, but poll voters don’t seem impressed. Perhaps the prime-time fling in Happy Valley will garner attention. Perhaps.
In the polls
The Buckeyes beat one-loss Rutgers, but that more or less merited them only maintaining status quo. While the voters’ SEC West love-fest continues, OSU moved up just one spot in the coaches poll, to No.?12, and stayed No.?13 in the Associated Press media poll.
The Ohio State offense, which has risen to No.?1 in the Big Ten (533.8 yards per game). In the past four games, against weak defenses, Barrett and the Buckeyes made the appropriate hay, piling up 2,456 yards (614.0 average). Barrett is third in the nation in passing efficiency and is the only quarterback riding a four-game streak of being responsible for at least four touchdowns per game running and/or passing. He had five (three passing, two running) against Rutgers, passing for 261 yards and rushing for 107 for his first 100-plus game on the ground.
What’s not hot?
The depth on the offensive line. Tackles Taylor Decker and Darryl Baldwin, guards Pat Elflein and Billy Price and center Jacoby Boren have rounded into an effective starting group. One of the hidden stats from Saturday is that Rutgers had no sacks; it had entered with 24, third most in the nation. But lack of playable depth on the offensive line was obvious at the end when, with 1:22 left, Boren stayed down for a while after aggravating his high-ankle sprain. He was still in there with the backups because the coaches said there was no other option.
What went right?
The Ohio State defense brought pressure all day and scored for the fourth time in six games. Darron Lee made the stop, Rashad Frazier knocked the ball loose, and Eli Apple scooped it up and scored from 4 yards out for the latest touchdown, giving the defense three TDs and a safety this season. The primary focus was to stop the run and make Rutgers’ play-action passing game less effective. For the most part, it was mission accomplished, especially in the first half, when the game was won.
Back to drawing board
Urban Meyer’s favorite group on the team, the kickoff coverage squad, made some hits but also took some hits with injuries. Ron Tanner (foot sprain) and Bri’onte Dunn (hamstring) were ruled out, then Devan Bogard suffered an apparent knee injury in the game. The competition for coveted starting jobs on that special team probably will be keen this week. With OSU scoring 224 points in the past four games, the kickoff team has seen extensive action.
Bogard’s knee injury appeared to be the most serious of the several bumps the Buckeyes endured. Bogard reportedly was still being evaluated yesterday. Defensive end Frazier (knee), safety Cam Burrows (shoulder), hybrid back Dontre Wilson (head bump) and Boren (high-ankle sprain) probably will be assessed day to day.
Evan Spencer sure did on that 11-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter, and he completed the leaping pluck-and-tuck with just his right hand. But what made that play go was the chicanery just before the pass: Barrett faked a handoff to Rod Smith as Spencer came in from the right slot as if to block, only to cut up wide open on a skinny post. Still, the degree of difficulty for the catch was about 9.5.
Penn State, which had a bye last week. The Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-2) were living a charmed first season under coach James Franklin, jumping out to a 4-0 start, until Northwestern bopped them 29-6. Then came the ignominy of being one of only three teams to lose to Michigan this year (18-13). Christian Hackenberg is a major quarterbacking talent and leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game, but he is operating behind an offensive line that’s having problems. Meanwhile, Penn State is sixth in the nation in total defense (283.3-yard average) and leads the Big Ten.
This week’s challenge
The Buckeyes have to assume that winning big is their only option in terms of gaining serious attention from the College Football Playoff selection committee. And if the polls are any barometer, even that might not be good enough. The challenge is that in the last six games of the regular season, they will face three of the nation’s top 10 defenses: Penn State, Michigan State (ninth) and Michigan (10th). The uphill run has begun.
Rutgers Oct 18, 2014 3:30pm
Maryland Oct 4, 2014 Noon
Urban Meyer bye week update
Meyer said some early preparations for next week's game against Rutgers are underway. Another focus of this bye week is red zone play, where the Buckeyes have struggled this year.
Jacoby Boren talks to reporters during the Buckeye's bye-week.
On the Buckeyes offensive line: “I think we have a lot of good chemistry in there,” Boren said. “It’s tough when you lose great guys. It’s taken a while for us to build that bond together. I think every game has helped us grow. I feel like we’re all on the same page.”
Steve Miller talks to reporters during the Buckeye's bye-week.
Miller said the defensive line is playing well, but they can do “way better” on their pass rush, said this week's practice has been more laid back. They are getting some of the younger guys more work this week.
Craig Fada Bye-Week Q&A
Fada said that coverage teams are always competitive. They race all the time. Racing down the field and racing to the ball. “It's a weekly thing. That's what makes us so good.”
Here are other notes and quick hits from interviews with OSU players and Meyer after Wednesday's practice.
• Meyer said the first bye week came at a good time. Ohio State responded to the first break with blowout wins over Cincinnati and Maryland. The Buckeyes are off again this week, but Meyer isn't so sure this break came at a good time.
"The thing we're concerned about is we had momentum, and it's been taken away," Meyer said. "So we gotta keep that momentum somehow."
• A number of players will be going home for the bye weekend, including freshman linebacker and Georgia native Raekwon McMillan. "He's earned that," Meyer said.
• The offensive line has made strides over the last three games. Center Jacoby Boren said they're becoming more comfortable playing together.
"I think we have a lot of good chemistry in there," Boren said. "It's tough when you lose great guys. It's taken a while for us to build that bond together. I think every game has helped us grow. I feel like we're all on the same page."
• Meyer said some early preparations for next week's game against Rutgers are underway. Another focus of this bye week is red zone play, where the Buckeyes have struggled this year.
During the first bye week, the Buckeyes did a lot of game reps in practice. Meyer said there hasn't been as much of that this week. Instead the focus has been on healing minor injuries and developing depth. Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
25 words or fewer Ohio State walks tall through the weekend of chaos and Terp-itude, and would just as soon keep playing rather than take this second bye.
In the polls
As upsets felled 10 of the top 20 teams in the coaches’ poll, Ohio State moved up three spots to No.?15. Michigan State, after hanging on to beat Nebraska, is No.?8 and the highest-ranked Big Ten team in a coaches’ poll headed again by defending national champion Florida State. In the Associated Press media poll, the Seminoles were already No.?1. Ohio State improved five spots, also to No.?15. Michigan State also is No.?8 in the AP.
Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett continues to sizzle, moving up to No.?4 in the nation in passing efficiency (186.3) and No.?1 in the Big Ten. In the past three games, he’s thrown 14 touchdown passes with one interception. Overall, he is 88 of 133 for 1,354 yards, 17 TDs and five interceptions. It helps him that WR Michael Thomas is also hot, leading the team with 17 catches for 322 yards and five TDs, including that reach-over/toe-tapper in the back of the end zone at Maryland. Braxton Miller was right when he said in July that he expected Thomas to be one of the Buckeyes’ breakout players this season.
What’s not hot?
Urban Meyer said 23 passes for Barrett on Saturday (18 completions, four for TDs) were not enough. But figure in this: He was sacked four times, with three of the five starters on the offensive line each culpable for a whiff. As good as things are going with the offense, amassing 1,871 total yards the past three games, the pass protection took a bit of a hit at Maryland. And the inability to punch the ball in from the 3 on one of the few foiled OSU drives was another, with offensive coordinator Tom Herman admitting he might have gotten a little stubborn there.
What went right?
The Ohio State defense leaped onto the field in its first appearance at Maryland, led by outside linebacker Darron Lee. There were still some gaffes in the pass defense that troubled Meyer, but Joey Bosa, Lee and Raekwon McMillan combined to force the turning-point play of the game with sheer effort on an interception-return-fumble-further return to set up a backbreaking TD just before halftime. Maryland was averaging 417.6 yards and 36.8 points going in, but had 310 and 24, respectively, against the Buckeyes.
Back to drawing board
Any play-caller would want that fourth-down play back at the Maryland 3 on the first possession of the second half after gaining great field position on a 32-yard punt return by Dontre Wilson. Pressing for a TD instead of a field-goal try, Barrett was sent rolling left on what looked to be a pass-run option, but the receivers were covered in the end zone and Barrett eventually was sacked. It was one of the few plays Maryland got right on defense and the OSU offense got wrong.
Freshman running back Curtis Samuel was ruled out on Saturday, reportedly because of an ankle sprain, despite making the trip. Otherwise, there appeared to be no other major dings.
Bri’onte Dunn delivered the first blow, and Craig Fada delivered another memorable one. Meyer was practically giddy about what he calls his favorite group on the team, the kickoff coverage squad. Maryland’s Stefon Diggs had been averaging 29.7 yards on returns going in. He was limited to 38 yards on three tries (12.7), with a long of 19, by the Buckeyes. OSU is 16th nationally in that regard (17.38) and No.?2 in the Big Ten behind Iowa (17.20).
It’s another bye weekend, the second in four weeks. In soccer terms, though, Meyer plans to stage a few “friendlies” in practice between his offense and defense before resuming Big Ten play with the homecoming game on Oct.?18 against Rutgers.
This week’s challenge
Meyer likes to say the schedule is what it is, and a team must roll with it. But after the win at Maryland, he said he and his players would prefer to be playing again this weekend. While half of the members of the AP top 20 lost last week, the Buckeyes managed to win impressively at Maryland, which was only a nine-point underdog headed into its first-ever Big Ten home game. The challenge for the Buckeyes this week is to keep that edge and not sit idly, uh, bye.
25 words or fewer After decimating two straight in-state foes, Ohio State eyes the Terps in the quest to make “Maryland, My Maryland” in its Big Ten opener.
In the polls
The Buckeyes jumped up two spots in the Amway coaches poll to 18th; they moved up two spots in the Associated Press media poll to No.?20. In the coaches poll, Alabama moved over Florida State to No.?1, with Oklahoma No.?3. In the AP poll, Florida State stayed No.?1, followed by Oregon and Alabama. As for the Big Ten members, the coaches have Michigan State 10th, Wisconsin 16th, Nebraska 17th. AP has Michigan State 10th, Wisconsin 17th, Nebraska 19th.
J.T. Barrett, who just seems to be warming up. The redshirt freshman is eighth nationally in passing efficiency (176.6 rating) and second in the Big Ten to Michigan State’s Connor Cook (192.3), who is third in the nation. In his first four college starts, Barrett has passed for 1,087 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 70 of 110 throws. He also has rushed for 205 yards, thus sitting 19th in the nation in total offense (323.0 average).
What’s not hot?
Giving up long, sometimes arching, sometimes grab-and-run pass plays for touchdowns. Throw in that bogus offensive pass interference call against Cincinnati (it should have been pass interference or at least holding on OSU cornerback Eli Apple), and it was not a statement night from the overhauled pass defense. Coach Urban Meyer said they are going back under the hood of the co-coordinator Chris Ash design this week, perhaps to change some parts. Meyer said the passing defense is still the weak link on an otherwise rising team.
What went right?
Coordinator Tom Herman and his fellow offensive coaches turned an inferior defense inside out for a second straight game. Against Cincinnati, that meant 380 yards rushing, 330 passing and 710 total, 8 short of the school record set in an all-rushing win over Mount Union in 1930. On Saturday, Devin Smith caught two TD passes, Ezekiel Elliott ran for a career-high 182 yards and a TD while catching five passes for 51 yards, and Dontre Wilson caught a career-high six passes for 71 yards and a TD.
Back to drawing board
We’ve covered the pass defense woes, but they qualify for a double dip. As for that 12th man thing, a student running onto the field clearly was drawn up on the fly. But former OSU linebacker Anthony Schlegel, now an assistant strength and conditioning coach, was the big eraser.
Hybrid back Jalin Marshall said last week that the Buckeyes had run some plays in practice that had him taking direct snaps in the wildcat formation. On Saturday night, he ran it two plays in a row late in the first quarter, the first time gaining 12 yards, the second time just 1.
A trip to Maryland, which has been looking forward to its first Big Ten home game for more than a year. Byrd Stadium likely will be packed, and not just because the Buckeyes are coming to town. The Terps are a surprising 4-1, and the loss was 40-37 in a shootout with West Virginia. They are coming off a 37-15, Big Ten-opening win at Indiana, which upset Missouri the week before. Starting quarterback C.J. Brown suffered a left wrist sprain in that game, but backup Caleb Rowe kept the chains moving. Brown’s status for Saturday won’t be known until game time, according to coach Randy Edsall.
This week’s challenge
Fix the big play vulnerability of the pass defense, because the Terps and dangerous receiver Stefon Diggs are going to challenge it for sure. Cincinnati averaged 60 yards on its four TD pass plays, and one of them was a mere 19-yarder. This is a momentous game for the Terps, and they can be expected to fire away.
25 words or fewer It was always the No.?1 question: Could Ohio State handle the Virginia Tech blitz? Seven sacks and a 14-point loss later, the answer: No.
In the polls
Ohio State fell from No. 8 to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll. As bad as that was, evidently the coaches still think OSU is better than Virginia Tech, which rose only to 19th in their poll, as the Buckeyes fell to 18th. The previously unranked Hokies are now No. 17 in the AP.
There were times when J.T. Barrett had a little time to throw or a sliver of space to run through, and the offense sort of looked good. But those moments were like shooting stars on the beautiful night. For the second straight week, Barrett led the Buckeyes in rushing with 70 net yards, but he had grossed 125, only to lose 55 on the seven sacks. He was 9 of 29 passing for 219 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions, and that included at least three drops. On the last interception, he obviously anticipated a stop-out route from the receiver, Corey Smith. Instead, the Hokies turned it into a 63-yard touchdown that slammed the door.
What’s not hot?
The offensive line? The play-calling? The defense? The special teams? That’s a lot of not hot. The offensive line never gained a consistent grasp of Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s blitz attack. As for play-calling, where were the quick-pass plays that were supposed to make the Hokies pay? The defense had some good moments, especially in the second and third quarters, forcing turnovers and helping the Buckeyes tie it, but they couldn’t stop VaTech on the go-ahead drive. And special teams — two missed field goals, a kickoff out of bounds after the tying TD — definitely not hot.
What went right?
The 53-yard TD pass from Barrett to Michael Thomas was a thing of beauty that showed the Buckeyes had life. Joey Bosa forced the fumble from Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer that was recovered at the Virginia Tech 15-yard line early in the fourth quarter, setting up the tying TD run by Ezekiel Elliott. Barrett running 22 yards for a first down on third-and-20 with 2:46 left gave the Buckeyes hope on their final significant possession, but the pick-six sent fans toward the exits.
Back to drawing board
Again, the Buckeyes did have some success at times against Foster’s defense, but they could never gain consistency because the Hokies owned the battle up front. The Hokies stayed in a Bear front with cover zero-man almost all night, in essence saying they didn’t think any of the OSU receivers could beat them in one-on-one matchups, or at least enough times to make a difference. Thus Virginia Tech attacked the young Ohio State offensive line from all angles with all kinds of blitzes, and the Buckeyes’ line was not up to the challenge.
There were no apparent injuries that might cost players time this week. Center Jacoby Boren played despite a high-ankle sprain suffered the week before against Navy. Linebacker Joshua Perry appeared to bang a hand at one point but returned to action.
Kent State (0-2), in the second year under coach Paul Haynes, a former Ohio State safeties coach. The Flashes fell to Ohio University 17-14 in a season-opening Mid-American Conference game, then lost their home opener to South Alabama 23-13 on Saturday. This could be the game in which the wobbly Ohio State running game finds it balance — the Flashes gave up 186 yards rushing to South Alabama after giving up 175 to Ohio.
This week’s challenge
Players are human, and they know their ultimate goal of making the first College Football Playoff likely took a mortal blow. But Michigan State — and the Big Ten overall — is dealing with the same sting after “Black-eye Saturday.” More to the point, while most fans will focus on the play of the offensive line, Barrett and an overhauled defense that was supposed to be improved against the pass, here’s another question: Who among the ballyhooed young skill players on offense is going to step up and finally make a play?
25 words or fewer After navigating rough seas early, the Buckeyes and J.T. Barrett finally ran Navy’s blockade. There’s no plan to offer Virginia Tech safe harbor Saturday night.
In the polls
Ohio State fans will have to wait to see the Buckeyes’ fate in the major polls this week, because of the holiday weekend that included games yesterday and today. OSU was fifth in the Associated Press preseason poll and sixth in the USA Today coaches poll. Of course, that was before Braxton Miller was lost for the season and before the first-half struggle in the eventual 34-17 win over Navy on Saturday. But perhaps the voters will focus more on how that game — and Barrett — fared in the second half, when the Buckeyes pulled away.
By game’s end, the Ohio State offense was moving well under the direction of the Barrett, the redshirt-freshman quarterback. He threw an early interception but wound up 12 of 15 overall, for 226 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder to Devin Smith that flipped the script. He also had a couple of runs to keep alive the drive that iced the game. Those runs seemed to confirm, even if only to him, that he can get it done with his feet when needed.
What’s not hot?
Statistically, the run defense is not going to like where it sits once the first weekend of national rankings are released. Give up 370 yards in a game, and one has to take his medicine. But even though Navy found and exploited a weakness in the second half with inside runs by the wingbacks that helped pile up the yards, the Buckeyes still gave up just 10 points in the half while scoring 28.
What went right?
Actually, it’s what went straight, and those were the two field-goal attempts by freshman Sean Nuernberger, who stepped in seamlessly as Drew Basil’s replacement. His two field goals, the first a 46-yarder, kept the Buckeyes breathing in the first half.
Back to drawing board
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner already went there, settling on a solid No. 1 unit to start the second half that featured left tackle Taylor Decker, left guard Pat Elflein (who had started on the right side), center Jacoby Boren, right guard Billy Price (who had started on the left) and right tackle Darryl Baldwin. As the line settled down, Barrett grew more confident, and the result was three straight touchdown drives (covering 230 yards) to end the game.
Coach Urban Meyer said he will continue to be careful with senior tight end Jeff Heuerman through the early season as he comes back from a foot injury suffered in the spring. Heuerman did play against Navy, splitting time with Nick Vannett.
OSU used an altered T formation. With Barrett in the shotgun, flanked occasionally by two running backs — Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott, or Wilson and Jalin Marshall, or Curtis Samuel and Marshall — it has obvious possibilities. From the option to inside runs and quick-strikes to both flanks, one has to figure that more is on the way.
Virginia Tech, the featured opponent of the preconference schedule. Despite the Hokies, under 28-year coach Frank Beamer, being unranked, ESPN/ABC long ago tapped this game for prime time. The Hokies are coming off a 34-9 win at home over Football Championship Subdivision opponent William & Mary in their opener. Virginia Tech has a new starting quarterback — Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, who was 23 of 30 for 251 yards and two TDs. The Hokies defense gave up just 193 total yards.
This week’s challenge
Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster is a legend among his peers for his creative game plans in terms of pressure, and no doubt he has been eyeing the four new starters on the OSU line along with their young quarterback for weeks. That means there will be plenty of blitzing on Saturday night.
The buzz is picking up about Ohio State Freshman Tailback Curtis Samuel. August 25, 2014 Source: SI.com - With quarterback Braxton Miller out for the season, Samuel’s importance to the Buckeyes’ offense will only increase. Coach Urban Meyer has always been infatuated with speed and explosiveness. In a scrimmage last week Samuel dropped jaws by going 70 yards untouched for a score. Buckeyes running backs coach Stan Drayton said he has never coached a back with Samuel’s combination of speed and power. The best comparison he could come up with is Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon. “He’s not as thick right now, but he has the same body type and physical capabilities,” Drayton said. “He’s a very explosive and physical kid.”
Two factors that determine if freshman backs see the field are ball security and pass blocking. Drayton said Samuel has fumbled just once during camp and had a defining pass-blocking moment when he stuffed linebacker Josh Perry in a recent scrimmage. "That right there told me the kid is ready to play,” Drayton said.
Drayton jokes that his backfield always needs a “pair and a spare.” He has two strong returners in sophomore starter Ezekiel Elliott and solid senior Rod Smith. What has potentially been most impressive about Samuel is how he has ingratiated himself with those two, mimicking their work habits and learning from them.
“They’ve done a wonderful job with him,” Drayton said.
All that leads to one of the most anticipated debuts in college football when Ohio State plays Navy on Saturday.
Defensive Back Doran Grant answers questions, mostly about Braxton Miller. August 20, 2014 Source: theozone.net
Head Coach Urban Meyer talks about Braxton Miller's injury, how J.T. Barrett will lead the team and what changes might be made because of the injury. August 20, 2014 Source: theozone.net
Ohio State senior linebacker Curtis Grant talks Wednesday about the Buckeyes getting past the Braxton Miller injury. August 20, 2014 Source: Cleveland.com
Ohio State senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said in late July that losing Braxton Miller would be the equivalent of the Cleveland Cavaliers losing LeBron James. Now that Miller is out for the year, Heuerman reacts to that comment. August 20, 2014 Source: Cleveland.com
Big Saturday for the Buckeyes! Started off with Circle Drill then went right into a scrimmage where we had guys flying around and making plays on both sides of the ball. Finished that up with a few freshman getting their black stripe removed. August 18, 2014 Source: Ohio State
Ohio State boasts seven Heisman Trophy winners, tied with USC and Notre Dame for the most from any school. Braxton Miller has a solid chance to make it eight this year.Source: Eleven Warriors
The Buckeyes have reached the halfway point of training camp. Auigust 14, 2014 Source: Ohio State Videos
Ohio State released another video from yesterday's practice, and this one features Braxton Miller showing off his arm a little, which might help assuage fears of his health situation at least a tiny bit. The video also shows some battles along the offensive and defensive lines, J.T. Barrett getting into space, and a special return from a certain fiery coach. Source: Land-Grant Holy Land
Pick up your feet, turn your corners square, and drive drive drive! Enjoy the new trailer for TBDBITL's upcoming 2014 Season. Source: Ohio State Videos
OHIO STATE IS IN!
Here's a link to the full one minute video by ESPN College Football Playoff: WHO’S IN? | "Different Ways In"
The One Who Knocks - elevenwarriors.com
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer discusses his expectations for the upcoming season and QB Braxton Miller's progress after having surgery; ESPN video
With the start of the season just over a month away, one of the biggest issues in the world of Ohio State football is the status of Braxton Miller’s shoulder.
The senior quarterback had arthroscopic surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder in Feburary, a little more than a month after he was injured during OSU’s loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
(Miller is) ready to go,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “He's full speed, in the best shape of his life.”
Miller also answered several questions about his shoulder on Monday at Big Ten media days.
“It’s good,” he said. “I’ve been recovering from surgery and I’ve gained 5-10 pounds, but I’ve lost 3 percent body fat.”
When Miller was first cleared to throw, OSU’s medical staff only wanted him to throw a tennis ball for the first week. But it went better than planned.
“The tennis ball only lasted for a day,” Miller said. “They said, ‘Your body really recovers fast – faster than most people’s usually do.’ Then I threw a Nerf football for a week or so, and have been throwing a real football ever since. So, it’s going pretty good.”
Miller gave a succinct answer when asked to describe his recovery process.
“I would get up early and usually have two training sessions per day,” he said.
Miller did not realize the severity of his injury when he was crunched by a pair of Clemson players.
“At first, I thought it was just a bruise,” he said. “Then I came off the field and I said, ‘I think something is wrong with my shoulder.’ I told the trainer, ‘I need some ibuprofen or something.’ Then after the game, I waited like two weeks because I still thought it might be just a bruise. But then it wasn’t getting any better and I needed an x-ray. Then we found out it was worse than we thought.”
Miller was held out of spring practice, but the coaching staff went out of their way to try and make him more of a student of the game. He watched practice with a video camera attached to his head so he could go back and review the things he saw during practice. He also spent long hours in the film room studying his game, watching other top quarterbacks and studying various defenses.
“That was probably exactly what I needed: learning the game from the shoulders up,” Miller said. “Just learning from the defensive coaches and stand back and look at how practice is without even practicing. It helped a lot.
“My understanding of the game has improved a lot. I can recognize defenses better and as quick as possible. I want to recognize what they’re in in less than two seconds.”
Miller didn’t hold back when asked if winning the Heisman Trophy is a goal of his this season.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I walk by our (Heisman Trophy display at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center) every day. Eddie George, Troy Smith and Archie (Griffin) … I see that every day. I think to myself, ‘I’ve got to get it.’ I’m going to do whatever it takes. I just listen to what Coach Meyer and (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom) Herman tell me to do.”
Miller has been injured in each of his first three seasons at OSU. He was asked if the durability issues ever creep into his mind.
“No, it’s not in the back of my mind,” he said. “I just go out there and play football and that’s part of the game. You never know what to expect in a game from an injury standpoint. But I can be smarter about things. Getting down when I’m running and taking less hits. But I’m a competitor and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win while you’re out there.
“And I’ve got a lot of guys around me that are going to make plays. So, it’s going to be fun.”
Meyer was asked how concerned he is about Miller’s durability issues and if there’s anything the Buckeyes can do scheme-wise to cut down on the amount of hits that he takes.
“Well, I've had some players that have had the durability issues, and John Simon had a little durability issue,” Meyer said. “It's because he went a lot of times above and beyond what his body was telling him to do.
“I'd be the first to tell you if someone just isn't meant to play or they're just maybe not tough or so on. But Braxton Miller, his issues are he goes sometimes above and beyond what his body is going to allow him to do.
“So he's got an incredible – some of the guys with durability issues, the ones I just mentioned, (Tim) Tebow, John Simon, Braxton Miller, Christian Bryant – those are guys that have the competitive spirit at the highest possible level, and that's all they do is know how to go. So do we try to slow Braxton down? Absolutely not. We try to protect him, surround him and maybe come up with a good scheme to get the ball out of his hands maybe a little quicker. Those are all the things that we address.
“But the durability issue isn't because his body wasn't meant to play college football. It's because of how hard he plays. And you can look around the country, and there's guys -- you know who they are. Every program's got a couple of those guys that play just so darned hard that sometimes things happen.”
Miller scoffed at the idea that the Buckeyes are now “chasing” Michigan State because of how things transpired last season, when MSU upset OSU in the Big Ten championship game, preventing the Buckeyes from clinching a spot in the national title contest.
“No, we’re not chasing them,” Miller said. “We just came up short in one game. We talk about the bigger picture all the time and we’re going to correct it this year. We’re going to game plan well (for MSU). But it was a good game though. They were a good team and they were well coached; we just came up short.”
Has Miller already circled the Nov. 8 game at Michigan State on his calendar?
“I’m not eyeing it now, but when that game comes, I’ll be eyeing it harder than ever,” he said.
Does Miller still think about the failed fourth-and-2 rushing attempt that sealed the win for the Spartans?
“Nah. It’s behind us right now, so I’m not too worried about it right now,” he said. “It could have turned out different if we made the first down, but it’s behind us now.”
There were talks that Miller seriously contemplated an early jump to the NFL after his junior season, but he played that down on Monday.
“Uh, I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t think about it too much. But ever since that thing happened in the Clemson game, I was like, ‘Well, I’m not thinking about it no more.’”
If Miller didn’t get hurt against the Tigers, might he have made the leap to the NFL? Most analysts say he would have been a third-day (round 4-7) pick. So, it’s not like he was projected to be a high draft pick.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s in the past now, so I haven’t really thought about it.”
Meyer mentioned that the offensive line is the biggest concern for the Buckeyes entering the season. But the always laid-back Miller didn’t seem to alarmed by the situation.
“Playing under Coach Meyer, I’m not concerned about the O-line,” Miller said. “He takes care of his business and I’m sure he’s going to get it right. Camp is just around the corner and I think we’ll be good up front, so I’m not too worried about it.”