"I feel like with this offense that Barrett works better in this offense I feel like he has a better arm, he's a way better quarterback than Braxton, but I feel like it's a big challenge for us, and we're actually looking forward to it and working this week in order for us to be successful against this offense."
Michigan State linebacker Taiwan Jones was asked about Ohio State and specifically about redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, who has filled in for the injured Braxton Miller. Jones gave high praise to Barrett, as you can see above, calling the youngster a "way better quarterback" than Braxton Miller.
That's a bold statement from Jones, but maybe not one that's so crazy, depending on how you look at it. Jones was a part of the Spartans defense that helped knock out Ohio State from the national championship game last season. In that game, Miller was able to spark a comeback from being down 17-0 with two rushing touchdowns and added another one through the air. I'm a firm believer in Braxton Miller and have no doubt he'll be the starter next year for his senior season. That being said, J.T. Barrett has been excellent at commanding the offense, which is probably what prompted Jones to speak out about the two quarterbacks. Braxton, for what its worth, apparently disagrees.
"I think we're having to manufacture our yards in different ways. But the core beliefs, spreading the field horizontally and vertically and playing most of the game in 11 personnel with one tight end and tailback, I think that's always going to be the case around here."
Austin Ward at ESPN takes a look at the differences between Ohio State's offense from last year to this year and what changes have been made to help fix what went wrong against Michigan State last year in the Big Ten championship. In some cases, the changes aren't all good, but for the most part, the Buckeyes will get a chance to redeem themselves from last season's loss.
The article points out three key areas that have changed the Ohio State offense this season, starting with J.T. Barrett leading the charge in place of Braxton Miller. The second point was the increased amount of players that have touched the ball this season. Coach Meyer and coach Herman have used different packages such as the Wildcat with Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall, but have also had the ball spread around to multiple receivers and running backs.
"Ohio State coach Urban Meyer made it clear earlier this season that Miller will be his starting quarterback when he returns next season as a fifth-year senior."
Braxton Miller is still on the way to being healthy, as the senior quarterback just recently stopped wearing the sling for his arm and shoulder. The article states that Miller's focus has been healing and strengthening the muscles around his right shoulder. Coach Herman praised Miller for his diligence and says that Miller has also been a great person for J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones to lean on when they need to know something or can improve in certain areas.
It's no surprise that coach Meyer says that Miller will be the starter next season, despite the Twitter universe begging for a quarterback controversy. The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year will have to wait until next season to lead Ohio State, but with what should be a more experience group, Ohio State will be a contender yet again for the College Football Playoff.
"You look at it, I think I can say this with all honesty, Connor can be the best one of us all."
- Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer on Connor Cook, via Bill Landis, Northeast Ohio Media Group
Connor Cook wasn't exactly a model of perfection last season for Michigan State, but he got the job done when the Spartans needed it most. In fact, Cook played great against the Buckeyes en route to a 34-24 upset win over Ohio State to win the Big Ten and has improved along the way. Now, Cook is among some of the better Michigan State quarterbacks in their history. From Brian Hoyer to Kirk Cousins, Cook has become another solid Spartan's quarterback.
Ohio State will be seeking their revenge on Cook, but will have their hands full in East Lansing. Ohio State senior defensive tackle Michael Bennett even added some praise for Cook:
"Going into the game last year, Connor Cook didn't really put anything exceptional on film. Then when he played us he had a really good game and has kept improving since then. I'd say he's a better quarterback from when I watched him on film last year."
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