Ohio State's Urban Meyer, J.T. Barrett Relying on a Little Help From Old Friend Tom Herman Ahead of This Week's Showdown With Oklahoma

By Tim Shoemaker on September 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm
Tom Herman hugs J.T. Barrett before the Sugar Bowl.

Every Monday night, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett places a pair of phone calls.

One goes to Jim Garfield, his old high school coach at Rider High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. The other goes to Tom Herman, Barrett’s former position coach with the Buckeyes.

These conversations don't usually relate to football — “When we talk, it’s more about how we’re doing in life,” Barrett says — but Monday’s will. At least the conversation with Herman, anyway.

“Absolutely,” Barrett said with a smile.

That’s because Ohio State travels to play Oklahoma on Saturday and Herman, now the head coach at Houston, faced the Sooners in Week 1. The Cougars came away with a 33-23 victory.

The Buckeyes hope they can learn something from an old friend.

“We did talk to Tom,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “Just got their thoughts on personnel because you see what you see on videotape. It was more about personnel because they have a couple of new players as well in the back end of their defense and what’s their thoughts on the defensive line.”

Added Barrett: “Definitely as far as in-game adjustments and what they were able to see and execute. Things like that.”

Herman’s offense at Houston and Meyer’s offense at Ohio State obviously have a lot of similarities. Both run variations of the spread with a dynamic playmaker at quarterback: Greg Ward Jr. for the Cougars and Barrett for the Buckeyes.

Against the Sooners, Houston put up 410 yards of total offense — 321 of which came through the air.

“Houston made their money on — it’s not like they methodically moved the ball down the field on them,” Meyer said. “They made some big plays on them and great two or three back-shoulder throws, couple isolation passing routes and a little trick play.

“I think it was 33 points they put on them, but they played very well.”

It goes beyond the game film, though. Meyer mentioned he got Herman’s thoughts on personnel and Barrett also intends to pick the brain of his former position coach about some of the Sooners’ tendencies.

“When you watch film you get a certain feel of, I guess, how they think,” Barrett said. “When I say that, I think my example would be, say that a big play happens. After a big play, does a team like to blitz or do they play conservative being that they just let a big play happen? Sometimes that’s hard to get a grasp on with certain teams.”

“Also, as far as personnel, how they feel. What are their weak areas?” he continued. “With defenses, there’s always kind of a weak area and they like to kind of hide so I think that’s something that you try to figure out. Sometimes you get a feel for it in the game, but other times you may see it on film in preparation.”

Meyer already placed his phone call to Herman. Barrett will make his later Monday evening. There will probably be a few more throughout the week, too. When you have the opportunity, why not?

It’s nearly impossible to tell how much these conversations actually help, but when the chance is there, you simply have to take it.

“It is if we have a relationship like with Tom and there’s some similarity,” he said.

Ohio State hopes to get by with a little help from its friends.

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