Mind Catching Up to the Feet
Junior linebacker Jerome Baker has spoken openly about the issues he had last season as a brand new starter on the Ohio State defense. He did the best he could, but he could have done so much better. Fortunately for both him and the Buckeye defense, Baker is an elite athlete, so he could make up for his mistakes with his speed and maneuverability.
One year later, and Baker now has the understanding of the defense that he was missing last season. It has made him a better defender, and faster as well.
“With Jerome, his football IQ is high to begin with and I think it’s growing,” said linebackers coach Billy Davis. “And when you take a fast player that’s twitched up like he is, and he thinks clearly and knows he knows, now you actually increase his speed. So Jerome is getting faster and faster the more of a stronger understanding he has.”
The Fun Part of the Job
Homer Simpson once famously said that the easiest part of coaching was the cuts. For Urban Meyer, the easiest part of his day comes when he gets to reward walk-ons with full scholarships.
Last week following a practice, Meyer got to do just that for senior receiver Elijaah Goins and senior linebacker Jack Turnure.
“Yeah, that’s one of the great things you get to do as a coach,” Meyer said. “And I see everybody around the country do kind of crazy things to give them scholarships, and I just think that’s one of the — I always tell our team, there’s things I have to do that I can’t stand, and that’s when a guy makes a stupid decision or just deal with nonsense. Then this is my favorite decision, when you see deserving people and the NCAA allows us to do it, and we put two, Elijaah Goins starts on special teams and so does Zach, and it was great, and our players loved it.”
Biggest Advancement for J.T. Barrett?
The quarterbacks have gotten better. We all know it because we’ve already read about it, but where has J.T. Barrett improved the most?
“His accuracy and just his energy level right now is incredible,” Meyer said. “He’s providing that energy for everybody. He’s always done that, but I can tell that this is — he’s got complete ownership of everything going on in that offense. His relationship with Ryan Day is incredible, and his skill set or the thing he’s most improved at right now is accuracy. Very accurate player right now.”
One of the reasons for that need to improve accuracy is because of the new mindset with throwing the ball. Quarterbacks can’t assume receivers are always going to be open. They have to do their part to throw them open. And that doesn’t happen without a more accurate quarterback.
Each of the Buckeye quarterbacks has put in the work to be the kind of accurate distributor this Ohio State offense needs.
“You just have to understand where the defender is on the receiver and throw it where the defender’s not,” said backup Joe Burrow. “It’s pretty simple and I think we’re doing a really good job of that right now. As long as you throw the ball where it needs to be, away from the defender, there won’t be an interception. The only time you throw an interception on a contested receiver is if you put it in the wrong spot.”