“I’m not the flashiest by any means. I think that (the Heisman) is a flashy type of thing. I am who I am, love it or hate it. That’s how it’s going to be.”
With 25 total touchdowns through just four games, it’s easy to understand why Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is getting so much Heisman Trophy hype. The player with the second-best odds according to Bovada? Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. The redshirt junior might not have the huge numbers that Jackson does, but with Barrett at the helm, Ohio State has scored at least 45 points in all three victories. The most notable performance of the season so far for Barrett came in Ohio State’s 45-24 win at Oklahoma. Even though he threw for just 152 yards, Barrett completed 70% of his passes and threw for four touchdowns, all to Noah Brown.
Barrett might not have quite the eye-popping stats that Jackson does, and that is why Barrett feels like he might not get as much Heisman hype, and he’s fine with that. As long as Ohio State keeps winning, that’s all that Barrett cares about. Barrett was in the same position in 2014, when he finished fifth in the voting. Marcus Mariota ended up taking home the Heisman Trophy, but Barrett ended up having the last laugh. Even though he wasn’t able to play in the national title game due to injury, Barrett’s Ohio State team took down Oregon.
Being a great quarterback, but not quite having enough to win the Heisman Trophy has become a theme for quarterbacks under Urban Meyer. Seven quarterbacks have finished in the top 10 under Meyer, but the only one to win the prestigious award was Tim Tebow. At least Meyer’s teams have gone on to win three national titles during that time, and Barrett is hoping a fourth is in the cards this year.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had three at the quality we have now. Kerry has done such a good job developing those guys. I listen to him and I see it myself.”
One of the most pleasant surprises of the early season for Ohio State has been the performance of their defensive backs. After losing Eli Apple, Tyvis Powell, and Vonn Bell from last year’s squad, there was plenty of questions on how the secondary would perform this year. Through three games the three new starters, along with returning starter Gareon Conley, have performed better than imagined. So far Ohio State has intercepted nine passes this year, with eight of those interceptions coming from defensive backs. The cornerbacks have been especially strong, only allowing three of 21 passes of at least 10 yards to be completed.
With so much talent in the secondary, Kerry Coombs came up with the idea to rotate Gareon Conley, Denzel Ward, and Marshon Lattimore in the two cornerback positions. While a lot was expected from Conley, nobody knew the Buckeyes would get such high production from Ward and Lattimore. Ward only played 21 defensive snaps last year as a true freshman, and Lattimore was sidelined with hamstring surgery. Even more impressive was their performance at Oklahoma, where Conley departed early due to an injury. The scary thing for Ohio State’s opponents the rest of the year is the trio will only get better as the year goes on.
“Every game, no matter how good you are there’s always things you can improve. So every day I try to improve on all my mistakes from the previous game so I can get better.”
It’s not very often that a true freshman starts in his first game for Ohio State, but Michael Jordan isn’t your normal offensive lineman. Jordan is just the second true freshman to start for Urban Meyer, and so far he is living up to expectations. The 18-year old admittedly had some jitters before starting his first game for the Buckeyes earlier this month, but his teammates and coaches helped to calm him down before Ohio State took the field against Bowling Green. Now with the nervousness of his first start out of the way, Jordan is focusing on getting better each week as the Buckeyes work their way towards another College Football Playoff berth.
While each game for Ohio State is important, Jordan is looking forward to the November 19th tilt with Michigan State. The freshman is from Michigan, and this will be the first time he makes it back to that state up north to play since graduating. Adding to the importance of the game is that Jordan has a couple of friends who are currently playing for the Spartans. By that game there will likely be a whole different type of pre-game jitters for Jordan since he’ll likely be playing in front of family and friends, as well as Ohio State possibly heading into that game with a lot on the line. If Jordan is able to play at the same level in East Lansing that he has through three games, Ohio State will likely be tough to stop on offense.
“I just wanted to be part of that. If he told me to go play center, I was going to play center.”
Junior defensive end Jalyn Holmes won’t have to worry about playing on the offensive line anytime soon, especially with how he is playing on the defensive side of the football. While he isn’t starting for the Buckeyes, Holmes is making quite an impact so far this season. Holmes has been a key part of Ohio State’s “rushmen” package so far this year, and his ability was shown when he tipped one of Baker Mayfield’s passes that was intercepted by Jerome Baker and returned for a touchdown. Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis are Ohio State’s starters at defensive end, but opponents can’t afford to underestimate what Holmes can do when on the field.
The work that Holmes and the rest of Ohio State’s defensive line have done so far this year have allowed the secondary to perform at such a high level through three games. The pressure that Holmes and the rest of the “rushmen” create have been a big reason why the Buckeyes have intercepted nine passes so far. What has helped Holmes find his way onto the field even though he isn’t a starter is his combination of size and speed have allowed him to be used at pretty much every spot on the defensive line. Even though he isn’t starting, Holmes is just happy to be on the field and making an impact for the Buckeyes.