J.T. Barrett And Ohio State's Offense Preparing For Extra Defensive Back In Hoosiers 4-2-5 Scheme

By James Grega on August 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm
J.T. Barrett

J.T. Barrett has seen his fair share of defenses in his time at Ohio State. 

Barrett struggled, however, against Indiana head coach Tom Allen's defense last year. Then the defensive coordinator for the Hoosiers, Allen limited Barrett to just 93 passing yards on a season-low nine completions with his 4-2-5 defense.

The 4-2-5 scheme, which features five defensive backs, brings with it more exotic blitzes and coverages. The extra defensive back, which Indiana calls the 'Husky' position, can be used in a variety of ways. Barrett said Monday that he has been making it a point in game preparation to always identify where the 'Husky' player is before each snap. 

"With that hybrid type of guy, he can play coverage so (I'm) just making sure that I account for him at all times," Barrett said. "He is not just a matchup we can exploit. Just know where he is at on the field, because they do like to blitz him."

The 'Husky' player for the Hoosiers is likely to be Marcelino Ball, a true sophomore out of Roswell, Ga. Ball started 12 of Indiana's 13 games as a freshman in 2016 and finished third on the team in tackles with 75. 

At 6-foot and 210 pounds, Ball is the perfect mold for a hybrid position in Allen's defense. In addition to finishing third on the team in tackles, Ball added two interceptions and eight pass breakups in his freshman season. He was also named honorable mention All-Big Ten by both coaches and media last season. 

Former Ohio State defensive back Jayme Thompson is expected to be Ball's primary backup at the 'Husky' position for Indiana this season.

Thompson redshirted in 2013 at Ohio State after suffering a broken ankle in fall camp. He was granted his release the following April and transferred to Iowa Western Community College. He later enrolled at Indiana, where he has played in just one game for the Hoosiers as he has struggled to stay healthy. 

Ohio State's offense is not only preparing for an extra defensive back, it is also preparing for a defense that is likely to give them multiple looks. 

While the Buckeye defense plays almost exclusively press-man coverage, the Hoosier defense figures to mix things up in terms of coverage in the back end. 

"I'm still a big believer in multiplicity. I think you keep people off balance," Allen said Aug. 1. "Everything looks the same pre-snap, and it all goes from there. That's one of our strengths, the way we can create different windows in the back end."

Ohio State wide receiver and team captain Terry McLaurin said Monday that he is preparing to go against both man and zone coverages, but doesn't concern himself with the extra defensive back. 

"We have really just been focusing on what they do. They play what we call mini-coverage on our slot receivers. We are looking at ways that we can utilize that," McLaurin said. "I know we are going to get man coverage. You come here, you prepare to beat man coverage. Whatever they show us, we have to be able to beat it." 

View 34 Comments