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Big Ten confirms Ohio State’s Denzel Ward should not have been called for targeting

Nebraska’s coach says J.T. Barrett is as good as ever.

Maryland v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

“Urban Meyer on Tuesday said the play on which Ward was ejected was sent to the Big Ten for review, and that it was deemed the incorrect call.”

-Bill Landis,

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer did not have his weekly press conference on Monday as he was out-of-state visiting a player’s family member who has been having health issues recently.

So, on Tuesday, Meyer spoke with reporters about some of the things on his mind following last Saturday’s game against the Maryland Terrapins. One item that will surely please and annoy Ohio State fans is that apparently the Big Ten Conference told the head coach that stud cornerback Denzel Ward should not have been flagged for targeting on his hellacious hit against Tavion Jacobs.

Meyer said that, as is customary every week, the team sent tape to the Big Ten office to ask for clarification on calls, and while the conference supported the call on the field (as referees make split-second decisions, and they are instructed to air on the side of safety), the fault actually lies with the replay official, who should have overturned the call upon review.

The fact that the inaccurate call was allowed to stand frustrated Meyer, to say the least.

"Concerned, irate -- all of the above," Meyer said. "It's not the person on the field. Those are snap judgements. I still to this day don't understand how that happens. That's for the higher ups to figure out. 'Concerned' is probably not strong enough."

Jacobs was dispossessed of the ball on the play, and while the officials ruled it an incomplete pass initially, the ball was immediately picked up by Ward. Therefore, had the targeting been correctly overturned, the replay official could have then looked to see if Jacobs catching the ball and turning up-field was enough to count as a completion, and thus awarding the Buckeyes another turnover.

Ward’s decleating occurred in the first half of the Maryland game, so he sat out the second half, and therefore was already eligible to start on Saturday against Nebraska.

“Riley moved ahead to the Buckeyes on Monday, and talked of a big task on Saturday night with Ohio State ‘hitting on all cylinders’ since a loss to Oklahoma.”

-Rich Kaipust, Omaha World Herald

If you cast your memory back to last year’s match-up with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, quarterback J.T. Barrett led the Ohio State Buckeyes to an impressive 62-3 victory. Barrett threw for 290 yards and four TDs.

Despite the fact that Husker head coach Mike Riley said that the team had watched some film from last year’s game, he believes that Barrett is playing as well as ever right now.

Riley said, "The guy's had a lot of experience playing football, and I think it shows more and more all the time. I think the comfort level he has is high."

While I certainly don’t disagree that Barrett has seemingly turned the corner working in Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day’s new Chip Kelly-inspired offense, it is certainly startling to say out loud, when you consider what he has done in his four years on the field. For the record, LGHL’s Christopher Jason agrees with Riley after looking at the game film.

If Nebraska wants to avoid a repeat of last year’s beat-down, and in doing so, derail Ohio State’s month of domination, they will need to upset Barrett’s comfort level, and force him back into the habit of doubting his own eyes, and not trusting his receivers’ ability to make plays.

That has been the difference over the past month (and in the Rutgers and Maryland games especially) that has allowed Barrett to go from fans calling for his job, to performing well enough to give the Bucks a legitimate chance to get back into playoff conversation.

“So it's that group -- Burrell, Knox, and Pridgeon -- vying for the job, and their first career start at Ohio State.”

-Bill Landis,

Another issue that Meyer discussed with the media today was what the team plans to do to compensate for starting right guard Branden Bowen being out for the season. When the newest depth chart was released earlier today, the starter was listed as either Matthew Burrell (who replaced Bowen against Maryland) or Demetrius Knox.

However, when Meyer spoke to reporters, he threw another name into the mix, Malcolm Pridgeon, who is currently listed as the second-team left guard.

Meyer’s announcement that Burrell, Knox, and Pridgeon were competing for the spot should put to rest any speculation that potential All-American center Billy Price might move over to his old position allowing back-up Brady Taylor to handle the snapping duties.

If the Ohio State offense is going to continue to improve and be able to compete against the more elite teams on the second half of its schedule, the right guard position will need to be solidified; especially since Isaiah Prince is at right tackle, and he seems to have been the weak link on the offensive line all season.