“[J.T. Barrett] brings the juice. What matters in our program, our culture, that's what he brings and what he emphasizes.”
Since his redshirt freshman season at Ohio State, quarterback J.T. Barrett has been in charge of at least one thing, even if he wasn’t starting: pregame speeches. Constantly praised for his excellence leadership both off and on the field, Barrett’s pregame speeches have become somewhat of a staple of his time in Columbus, and his coaches and teammates love the fierceness that comes out of the junior quarterback despite his normally quiet demeanor. If you click on the link above, you can see some of the short speeches that Barrett gave to his teammates this season, though I’ll warn you that they might have you ready to run through a wall.
With the starting spot solely in possession of Barrett, he’s helped move Ohio State back to No. 2 in the country with just one loss on the season so far. Now he faces another big test this weekend when the Buckeyes host arch rival Michigan at Ohio Stadium. Barrett has the opportunity to add to his collection of gold pants, and make Ohio State’s case for being in the College Football Playoff - whether the Buckeyes get to play in the Big Ten championship or not.
“I wanted to explore all of my options and they threatened to pull my scholarship if I did, so that's why I decommitted.”
By now, it’s probably well known by both Ohio State and Michigan fans alike. The story of how cornerback Gareon Conley ended up donning the scarlet and gray over the maize and blue is certainly an interesting one. And now, facing the team he was formerly committed to, Conley will likely play a huge role in determining who comes out on top between the Buckeyes and Wolverines. Conley has been the epitome of a lockdown corner for Ohio State this season, helping to anchor the defensive secondary alongside Marshon Lattimore and with safeties Malik Hooker and Damon Webb.
It’s not often you’ll hear Conley’s name called, and it’s not a surprise when it isn’t when you consider that teams look to throw away from the shutdown corner. What’s great about Conley is that even with that reputation, at certain points teams will try to test him and he comes up with a big play nearly every time. Last Saturday, Conley sealed a 17-16 win over Michigan State when the Spartans quarterback threw it in his direction and Conley managed to pick it off. Now he’ll get a chance to do the same to a team he might have been suiting up for at one point.
“If you're looking at me to say, 'Boy, I love where we're at,' I don't ever love where we're at until we're in February and I see how it went. [...] When you face an elite defense like this, you need everything you got.”
If you ever take a look at some of Ohio State’s box scores, there’s been one constant: Curtis Samuel doesn’t get too many carries in the backfield. The question is if it’s by design from the Buckeyes coaching staff or not. It especially becomes important when Urban Meyer’s team plays host to the third-ranked team in the country on Saturday against Michigan. There’s little doubt Meyer will play conservatively in terms of using all available weapons at his disposal on offense and that might include Samuel running the ball a bit more.
There is something to be said for the gameplan so far though, as lining up Samuel in the slot allows for extra space for J.T. Barrett and Mike Weber to run with defenders cheating towards Samuel. After all, once the ball is in his hands you have to hold your breath on occasion, and the Wolverines are no exception to that rule. With the final regular season game coming down to this traditional matchup, there’s sure to be plenty of mind games between the opposing coaching staffs in what should set up an exciting game.