The Solution is No More Jail
One of the topics discussed in this week’s Accost the Field concerned J.T. Barrett the ball carrier. Namely, would we see him carrying the ball as much as he has in the past.
Barrett carried the ball 205 times last season, which was 23 more times than leading rusher Mike Weber. He had four games of at least 20 carries, compared to just one for Weber.
This has been a source of frustration for Buckeye fans, which makes one wonder how often we’ll see Kevin Wilson relying on “Old Faithful”. According to Urban Meyer, the plan is to limit the number of hits that Barrett takes.
“Well, we’d rather not use him as much,” Meyer said. “That’s not an indication things are going well. Sometimes you need to do it. But that’s also a get-out-of-jail-free card when things aren’t going as well. So right now the receivers are playing at a fairly high level. At times when we use him too much, that’s when things aren’t clicking at other spots.”
While the number of carries that J.T. Barrett has to handle will depend on how well the Ohio State receivers are playing, the freshmen wideouts shouldn’t have much say in that regard. That’s not to say that they won’t play or have an impact, but it’s just not typical for a rookie wide receiver to have a significant impact on an offense.
Though, this may not be your typical group of freshmen receivers for the Buckeyes. Trevon Grimes is finally healthy and practicing and he’s 6-foot-4 and 200-odd pounds with speed. He could be used all over the field. Jaylen Harris is even taller than Grimes, checking in around 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds. He has been impressive and is trying to make his way into the top seven for receivers coach Zach Smith.
While Grimes and Harris are the two freshman receivers who get the most attention from the fans and media, the coaches and players have made it a point to mention freshman Ellijah Gardiner as well. He’s big like the other two and fast as well. Overall, it’s an incredibly intriguing group with sizable potential.
But what do they have to do in order to see the field in 2017?
“You have to be tough, be able to handle the tempo,” Smith explained. “We do a lot of running. Then you’ve got to be able to block and you’ve got to be able to get open. We play the best DBs in the country every day. So if you struggle in practice, we can’t put you on the field. You’ve got to be able to get open in practice every day, and if you can do that here, you’re going to get open on anybody in the country.”
Malik the Freak
Ohio State is very excited about their overall group of linebackers. They also believe their top three is as good as anybody else’s trio in college football. Middle linebacker Chris Worley, Will linebacker Jerome Baker, and Sam linebacker Dante Booker are arguably the most athletic group in the nation.
This might surprise you, but the guys behind them aren’t too shabby either.
Sophomore Malik Harrison will likely be the first linebacker off the bench this season. He can play either outside spot and he does it with middle linebacker size. And he’s getting better every day.
“The linebacker part, he understands how to play defense,” said linebackers coach Billy Davis. “He’s big, he’s a good tackler. He’s got range and he understands coverage. I just think it’s a matter of getting him in there and getting his shoulder right so we can get real, live reps. He had his share last year. I want to say he had 40-50 snaps.”
And don’t think for a second that he wouldn’t fit in very well with the athletes at the top of the linebacker depth chart.
“The size and athleticism combination — he is 6-3, 240-pound athlete that moves,” Davis said. “He wins the basketball dunk competition on the team. He’s just that kind of an athlete and that big, and we’re really excited about what he’s going to bring.”
If you’re interested in seeing what Harrison is capable of on the basketball court, just check out the video below from 270Hoops.com.