When Braxton Miller tore his labrum in a season-ending injury two weeks before the season, many people thought Ohio State's season hopes were torn with it. While backup J.T. Barrett was a highly-touted recruit, he was an unproven commodity who was replacing a two-time Silver Football winner.
But despite an early-season hiccup, J.T. Barrett has Ohio State's offense churning at a historical rate. People outside Columbus are starting to take notice, and Rutgers' defense is among them.
Rutgers defensive end, David Milewski, thinks J.T. Barrett is past making freshman mistakes. From Ryan Dunleavy of The Ashbury Park Press:
“I think it’s past that point now,” redshirt senior defensive end David Milewski said. “Maybe his first one or two games he was struggling a little bit getting a feel for the offense, but now he seems like he is in full rhythm and we’re expecting him to be playing at that capacity on Saturday. He’s a talented player. Big. Athletic. He can throw the ball. He can run. He poses a lot of problems, but we’re going to be focused on doing our jobs and hopefully that gets the job done.”
Senior middle linebacker Kevin Snyder doesn't see a difference in Ohio State's 2013 offense and their 2014 version:
“I think they’re the same,” senior middle linebacker Kevin Snyder said. “From what I’ve seen last year and this year, they haven’t changed their offense. It doesn’t look like they’ve taken anything out of the playbook since Braxton went down. They’re the same Ohio State to us.”
While I'd disagree — J.T. Barrett certainly doesn't get as many designed runs as Braxton Miller, for obvious reasons — I'm not going to quibble over high praise to Ohio State's redshirt freshman quarterback. Both Miller and Barrett move the chains effectively.
Rutgers' junior defensive tackle, Darius Hamilton, however, doesn't think Rutgers should dial their defense back in order to account for the dual-threat quarterback they'll face on Saturday at 3:30 PM on ABC:
“I don’t think you dial it back,” Hamilton said. “I think we’ve got to be good at the little things. I think we’ve got to be good at open-field tackling and keeping the ball in front of us. I think those things that are going to be huge factors in this game. We’ve got to be able to get things on the ground.”
Hmmm, that sounds like the defensive plan Ohio State will deploy against Rutgers. I guess the old coaching cliché is true: Rutgers vs. Ohio State will come down to which team executes better.
But only one team lists J.T. Barett on its roster.