Navy Quotebook: Barrett on the Team's Mentality without Braxton Miller

By Patrick Maks on August 31, 2014 at 10:05a

BALTIMORE – Who knows how long the J.T. Barrett era will last at Ohio State, but it started on a warm and cloudy Saturday off the Inner Harbor. And for a kid who hadn’t played a down of competitive football since Oct. 2012, Barrett, a redshirt freshman, was pretty good in his collegiate debut.

For weeks, the loss of star quarterback Braxton Miller has cast a spell of unease over Central Ohio. It might have eased up a bit after the Buckeyes beat Navy 34-17 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

“It seems like we’ve been working on this thing forever,” Meyer said of game-planning for the Midshipmen. “And what you saw a little bit throughout the course of the game is what I saw through practice. Every once in a while, they’re going to get one out of you because they execute so well … Obviously with the team we’re playing next, we have a lot of work to do. But we’ll take this win.”

And besides, for all the glaring weaknesses that remain, there were encouraging things to be gleaned. The first was Barrett’s poise.

He wasn’t perfect, but he seemed cool and collected under pressure. He was 12-of-15 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The lowlight was the aforementioned pick near the goal line in which Barrett threw into double coverage.

“I was like, ‘J.T. you know you shouldn’t have thrown it, but you still threw it.’ Now you gotta make up for it.”

The highlight was an 80-yard bomb to senior wide receiver Devin Smith that more or less broke open a previously competitive contest.

“I was trying not to miss him, he was so open. They bit so hard on the play-action so I was just trying not to miss him. He made a great catch and just ran away from them.”

Guys like Smith, Dontre Wilson, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith and a supposed cache of weapons in the passing game need to keep getting open like that. Because the less Ohio State asks Barrett to do the better. He’s not Braxton Miller, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.

“You’re coming in after Braxton, people expect you to do some crazy stuff. I told myself, I’m not Braxton. I’m J.T. So I just go out there and play my game and it definitely helped me.”

Before that, Barrett said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman told him the same thing.

“Coach Herman, he looked me in my eyes and was like, ‘Hey: just don’t try to be something you’re not. Just go out there and play with confidence’ and I feel like I did that today. That definitely helped me settle down.”

Because when you’re charged with replacing Miller, the back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year and a Heisman candidate, you’re going to be a cocktail of emotions. Welcome to J.T. Barrett’s life since it was announced Miller would miss the season after re-tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder.

“It definitely hurt us emotionally as far as when Braxton went down, but what are we gonna do? Just sit there and start losing? (I just) tried to grab the reigns and keep on going … We’re not gonna look at each other and just lose, I guess.”

After all, with or without Miller, the Buckeyes have talent on both sides of the ball. Few would question that. The issue at hand is a matter of experience and what happens when you lose arguably the best running back since Eddie George and four multi-year starters on an offensive line that’s regarded as one of the best in school history.

For weeks, we wondered if Miller’s shoes would be too big for Barrett to fill. It’s a valid and open question, but maybe concern is more appropriately directed at Ohio State offensive line, which looked pedestrian (and sometimes worse) for the better part of three quarters. Meyer was critical of the unit post-game.

“I was very disappointed, there’s a standard set of offensive line play for many many years and it’s really been enhanced by our line coach Ed Warinner the last two years and it didn’t resemble an offensive line at Ohio State the first two quarters and I’m being hard on them but I think they played much better second half. We’ll evaluate the film, we have to settle in on a starting five and we have to play much better if we’re gonna make a dent in the Big Ten conference. I just think we expected the offensive line to play much better.”

To state the obvious, the offensive line will determine a lot about the kind of J.T. Barrett we see on Saturdays. When Barrett had time to step into the pocket and make his reads, he looked pretty decent. Ohio State didn’t ask him to throw downfield that much, and that’s to be expected. But when the offensive line collapsed, Barrett was rendered ineffective and lacks Miller’s forte for running the football to, as Meyer said last week, “make bad plays good.”

It was the kind of sequences that made you wonder what would happen with No. 5 behind center. Meyer was asked if he missed Miller.

“A lot of times great players like that will pull out of something, but yeah. I didn’t physically think about that during the course of the game but you miss great players and obviously Braxton’s a great player.”

Plus, it hampered the team’s play-calling.

“We wanted to open it up a little bit more in the first half and we did. It wasn’t because of him, it was because our offensive line … It wasn’t lack of confidence in J.T. it was lack of confidence in protection.”

Meanwhile, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said his team made some unusual errors Saturday.

“Hats off to Coach Meyer and Ohio State. They did a really great job of battling and finishing us off at the end of the game. I am super proud of our kids and how we battled. We had some uncharacteristic mistakes that we normally don't make and against a team like Ohio State, you can’t do that. We knew coming into the game that we had to play perfectly.”

The Midshipmen kept the Buckeyes on the ropes for most of the game before fading down the stretch. They were athletically overmatched compared to Ohio State, but should be a formidable squad this season. Star quarterback Keenan Reynolds took solace in the way the Mids played.

“I’m proud of the way guys fought. Defensively, I thought those guys battled it out. The offensive line played really well. I think we did some good things and some bad things, certainly things that I wish I could go back and change.”


Comments Show All Comments

THE's picture

A character building W for our team. 

I feel like this group of young Bucks will get their sea legs and start clicking...and when they do, look out!  There are 2 returning starters on O. We can attack from all over with this team and I really think we'll work out some kinks and start to shred folks this year. 

Defensively, Navy is a different animal so we were stuck playing roles and contain. I hope against "normal" teams our line backers are able to identify and get to the ball better. Our D line is going to be freak nasty this year and really open up the back end to be successful. 

I like this team a lot and think the sky's the limit if/when we start gelling (insert Dr Scholls gellin jokes here). 

Just my $0.02. 

[[]] []-[] [] [[]]

+12 HS
Buckeye419er's picture

We will take the win indeed. I don't know if I can handle another game like that. Here's to hoping VT doesn't learn the triple option and cut blocking. smh.

There can be only one

+4 HS
Brutus1972's picture

Please, just not a half of football like we witnessed in the first half of this game.

QBYBuckeye's picture

J.T. had a very solid game, considering how long it has been since he last played.  The two most glaring mistakes I saw were the interception and the 3rd and one.  I thought he had enough of a lane to cut up field and move the stakes on the option.  The interception was exactly as was called in the booth - when he spun to elude the rush, he lost focus on the defense and threw into double coverage while the TE was wide open in the middle of the field.

This will be a fun season if the O-Line can grow as a unit.

Go Buckeyes!

New York Buckeye

+1 HS
steveoz49's picture

The respect given before and after the game was awesome.  I'm glad CBS chose to air it.

+11 HS
dmorris's picture

Me fact, I got a little emotional.

Dave in Troy OH

+2 HS
UpIrons's picture

I see what you did there... 

... And you don't see moments of respect like that in US Open Tennis either!

droessl's picture

Here's hoping the o-line has a great week of practice. Our guards were less than good, particularly in the first half.

One thing I find very encouraging is that with no Braxton in the backfield to make plays out of thin air is that it forces the "skill" position players to step up and make some plays. In the long run, having JT at qb might be better for the development of guys like Marshall, Samuel, etc...  Not a knock on Miller whatsoever, just looking at the positives! 

+4 HS
PhoenixBuckeye's picture

I think the most interesting thing to me was how accurate a lot of folks here at 11W were on calling the flow of play (both writers and community members).  Most were calling for a very close first couple quarters, followed by an improved next two quarters where the Buckeyes pulled away.  And that is exactly what happened.  In fact, I don't think there were almost any surprises in this game (weirdly).  Navy got a lot of rushing yards (yep), JT Barrett struggled a bit at first, but looked comfortable and poised (yep).  The offensive line is replacing 4 starters and struggled at times (yep).  The receiving and RB corps is sick-nasty and can break plays (yep).  We obviously didn't get to see the new DB/Chris Ash scheme, but other than that, I'd say we got exactly what we thought we would...which in my opinion, is a very good thing.  They should only get better and the team is exactly where they should be first game of the season against a very disciplined and tough Navy opponent.

+7 HS
HattanBuck85's picture

I thought the play calling was pretty weak. That 3rd down and short where Barrett optioned a flip for a loss was just a bad play call. 

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Woody Hayes

+5 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

No, it wasn't. Barrett had a lane, he didn't take it. Bad execution.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

+7 HS
HattanBuck85's picture

Disagree. Had 2nd and short and 3rd and short and never tried to attack the middle. To me, that was bad play calling. Should have kept it simple. I know the line is young but for us to succeed this year, we're gonna need to be able to run btw the tackles. 

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Woody Hayes

+3 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Whether you think it was bad play calling or not, you have to acknowledge his point - it wasn't executed properly. While I agree, I would've preferred running right up the gut, and would like it if we would have had the confidence to do so, this line is not there yet. If Barrett cuts up into the gap that was created by the option flow, he would've had the first down.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+6 HS
Jugdish's picture

I think I know the play you are talking about near the goal line. Braxton would not have flipped to the back, but would have cut up and run with the ball. It was a freshman mistake. But overall, I like J.T. He handled himself with poise and threw a really nice ball. J.T. also slides better than Braxton. Both need to learn when to run out of bounds to save themselves for the team.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

+3 HS
ibuck's picture

You know the coaches are on JT to toss the ball to the RB, just as they were on BM. "Toss the ball ! Toss the ball ! Toss the ball !" they chant. That sweep option only works consistently when the QB tosses the ball sometimes. Otherwise the D converges on the QB. Crunch!  Didn't want that for Brax and don't want it for JT. And you saw what Navy did when they pitched it.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Urban said things got better in the second half when they decide to only use three different plays

+1 HS
buckeyedude's picture

Agreed. Keep it simple. This is a very young offense.



bucks4nuts's picture

The "quick" play needs to be thought about.. 

"To The House"

FROMTHE18's picture

OL is going to get some extra attention this week. I hope we keep giving the ball to the playmakers, I was so impressed with Dontre, Jalin, and Samuel. I also liked what I saw out of Zeke. The sweeps were effective, but we need to establish interior rushing  and demonstrate the threat of a consistent passing game early on

+3 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

good win

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

+2 HS
Bleeding-Scarlet-Grey's picture

I def see hale starting over price especially with the better play he was showing in the second half

Brother man, I have MADE and LOST millions in my lifetime.... Brain cells that is! How I made those millions I do not know because the secret has been lost in the millions I have lost!!!! ~ Taco

-1 HS
TheVictoryBell45's picture

The offensive line didn't have a good start but they started to take over the game late. We had great interior blocking on Ezekiel Elliots TD run and I thought it was a great sign that we were able to keep the ball on the ground and seal the game with our last scoring drive. 

I feel confident saying that is the best Navy team since the Staubach days. They aren't the typical undersized players that you see at the service academies. They have size on both lines and they have athletes. I was really impressed with them. 

I'm really happy to get by a good Navy team with a win. Some young guys gained some great experience and the team gained some confidence. On to Va Tech!

+1 HS
awlinBrutus's picture

actually they have had some good teams other than the present one. when napoleon mccullum played, early 80's, they went to some bowl games. we played them in the liberty bowl once.


+1 HS
Buck911's picture

Agree, this was not your father's Naval Academy.  This NAVY team is made up of some of tomorrow's best warriors our nation will produce.  For summer camp they go through SEAL training.  I expect them to have a very good season.  They run a very effective offense that does not sell well during recruiting, but they are not sending their players to the NFL, they are sending them to the battlefield.  Biggest reason why more teams don't run it.  Running the same offense year after year allows them to have a very polished product, and it shows.  Good job Navy.

The O-Line kind of got pushed to the back burner with Braxton's situation and all the concern at QB.  The QB issue is just a function of time and reps, it will take care of itself, time to focus on the O-Line, but I think that too is a function of time and chemistry, and there were signs of it gelling in the second half.  It's not a question of talent, they just need to get in sync.

+1 HS
Tkebuck1's picture

The o line adjusted in the second half and I saw backs flying through some tight holes. The RB speed is crazy. I haven't seen this kind of offensive speed in many moons. As the o line improves, this offense is going to break some records. 

Spider1944's picture

I for one was glad to see all the young and new faces, both on defense and offense. I am glad to see Urban back up his talk with action. I will never understand last years reluctance to play the kids when the guys in front of them were not getting it done. I still think it went back to coaches not trusting the players. They didn't trust the backups because they had no experience, DUH!, and they didn't trust the starters to play in your jock defense. IMHO.

Well Urban told his assistants, "you better coach them up, because they are playing this year."


"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

Bubba 81's picture

I am disappointed the coaches didn't get more touches for Rod Smith or B. Dunn who fit more of the power back role that was vacated by Hyde. C. Samuel and Ezekiel Elliott seem like they are same kind of running back, very quick, very fast but unable to get the tough yards. It seemed like Ezekiel was taken down a few times by arm tackles. Don't get me wrong, I love our quick RB's...but on 3rd and two, it shouldnt be a question. Impose our will, break a tackle, and barrel through. 

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

That INT was a typical first start, rs freshman mistake. I wasnt worried. Next time he'll know better. JT is actually slower than I thought. I thought hed be faster but just not the wiggles that Brax has. 

EZE E took a bit to get going but this O-line is going to go through some growing pains. Gotta be patient ...Cant wait to see what Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel do once the playbook is opened up. Dontre Wilson looked great too.

Wish Noah Spence was playing vs VT. The D-line is going to be loaded once he gets back. 

I wish Noah Spence was playing vs VT.

This Dline is going to be filthy once the Vernon Gholston remix comes back.