Skull Session: J.T. Barrett Appreciation, Defense Returns to Fundamentals, and The One Good Special Teams Phase

By D.J. Byrnes on October 18, 2017 at 4:59 am
Austin Mack dabs the October 18 2017 Skull Session

The Los Angeles Dodgers will win the World Series.


Word of the Day: Abnegate.

 O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! J.T. Barrett is probably the most popular man in Buckeye Kingdom, which is weird considering he was the most divisive a month ago. 

Turns out, winning five games in a row, even against lesser competition, can do a lot for a quarterback's popularity. His numbers now rank amongst the country's elite. 

From Bill Connelly of

Barrett's passing numbers over these five games: 99-for-137, 1,351 yards, 18 touchdowns, no interception. That's a passer rating of 198.5. That would be tremendous if he were playing against FCS opponents. He was an absurd 27-for-33 for 325 yards and five touchdowns at Nebraska on Saturday. He also rushed for two touchdowns.

Among power conference quarterbacks, he is now third in passer rating (173.8) behind only Oklahoma juggernauts Baker Mayfield (OU) and Mason Rudolph (OSU). He's laps ahead of all the other quarterbacks with better name brands — Washington's Jake Browning (154.7), Penn State's Trace McSorley (154.2), Louisville's Lamar Jackson (151.3), UCLA's Josh Rosen (149.4), USC's Sam Darnold (141.5), etc. — most of whom haven’t exactly faced brutal schedules either.

Sure, Barrett's numbers came against lesser players. But it's not like college teams play bangers every week. 

He obviously won't match his statistical tear later in the season, but if he keeps up the efficiency he'll at least earn an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

 BACK TO BASICS. Lost in the revitalization of the offense is the defense clamping down. The Huskers scored 14 points last Saturday, and the Silver Bullets limited them without a sack and only one tackle for loss.

That's thanks to fundamental defense.


  • Once again, the Buckeyes forced their opponent to become one dimensional. Nebraska totaled just 44 rushing yards on 16 attempts, an average of just 2.8 yards per attempt. The Cornhuskers didn’t break a run longer than 11 yards, and their low average is even more absurd after considering the Buckeyes didn’t register any sacks.
  • A typical Buckeye beat down, has usually consisted of numerous defensive splash plays, but Ohio State only registered one tackle for a loss, no sacks, and just one interception (on the last play of the game). A defense as talented as Ohio State’s is always capable of creating a game-changing play, but their ability to play sound football and hold an opponent to just 14 points without the benefit of numerous turnovers points to the improvement in tackling and steady play from the secondary.

And while everybody is rightfully jacked to see Barrett and the offense against a defense like Penn State's, don't sleep on Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley vs. the defense. If the defense can limit explosive plays, Ohio State should be sitting pretty.

 WELL, THAT'S NICE. Urban Meyer talks a big game about special teams. And despite "every day being special teams day" at the WHAC, it sure hasn't looked like that on Saturdays.

But there is one silver lining. The Buckeyes have yet to suffer the indignity of a punt returned against them.


The Buckeyes are No. 1 in the country in one punting category - the nation's only major college team not to permit a punt return this season.


Yet after 20 Ohio State punts through seven games, not a single punt has been returned against the Buckeyes. According to play-by-play accounts:

  • 10 ended in fair catches.
  • 5 were downed by the Buckeyes.
  • 4 went out of bounds.
  • 1 went into the end zone, resulting in a touchback.

Drue Chrisman has been more good than bad, but he has had some shanks. The one good thing about shanks, though, is they can't be returned for touchdowns.

 THANKS, FOX EXECUTIVES! You might wonder why Ohio State played Rutgers at night, or why a 37½-point underdog like Kansas plays in primetime on Saturday.

The answer is always the same: That cold, calculating hand of scheduling belongs to TV executions shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to conferences.


FOX executives on Sunday made the call to air KU’s upcoming contest at No. 4 TCU in front of a national audience, slotting it for a 7 p.m. Saturday kickoff on the their flagship network. It represents the Jayhawks’ first prime-time, nationally-televised game since Nov. 21, 2009, when KU played at Texas on ABC, and its first appearance on FOX since the 2008 Orange Bowl.

The Jayhawks (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) enter Saturday’s game a 37½-point underdog, the largest point spread of the 56 contests listed at odds outlet With that in mind, it may seem peculiar FOX Sports executives felt this game worthy of a national audience in prime time.

Derek Crocker, senior director of collegiate sports for FOX Sports, told The Topeka Capital-Journal the decision was based on a multitude of factors.

Given their panache for such antics, I'm surprised FOX executives didn't substitute Ohio State for Kansas. I'm sure they would if they could.

 LOL @ MLS. Yesterday, I wrote about Crew owner Anthony Precourt's pathetic shakedown of Columbus for a downtown stadium.

I called Precourt an incompetent grifter. Folks, that was wrong. He's not incompetent because he has never had any intention of staying in Columbus.


One source close to the team said a deal to host home games at the University of Texas is “all but done” for 2019. The source also said Precourt paid $68 million — above market value — for the team in 2013 because he long entertained plans to move it.


The purchase agreement contained a promise to keep the team in Columbus for at least 10 years; it also included an escape clause in the case Precourt wanted to move it to Austin.

Shoutout to the city officials that signed that 10-year contract. Gee, I wonder why this Californian millionaire specifically asked for an escape clause to Austin, Texas?

Precourt spent yesterday flirting with Austin, already talking as if it's a done deal:

He announced it before the Crew opened the playoffs knowing it will gut attendance. And next year, when everybody knows the Crew has one foot out the door, low attendance numbers will further justify the move. If people show up to protest his corny ass, it's just more money for him.

Secondary shoutout to MLS for allowing one of the league's original teams to be pawned. Columbus is always one of the top TV markets for USMNT games, has provided the backdrop to some memorable games, and recently sold out the Horseshoe for a European friendly.

It's somehow the city's fault this bum can't tap into that passion?

I'm sure they dream of selling the team back to Columbus down the road, with attached expansion fees. Residents should laugh in their face.

Crew diehards don't deserve this, and it's an embarrassment the league is letting this happen to exploit a new market. I'll never watch another game.

 THOSE WMDs. 'Sloppy and reckless' prodigy has college hoops on the brink... Seven days on the Oprah cruise... The new Macbook keyboard ruined my life... Why Precourt's threat to move Crew to Austin burns all Columbus bridges... Citizens of anywhere... Anderson, Indiana: Wild.

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