Preparation is the Key
USC has the kind of defense that will throw an entire kitchen sink at Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. And then after they throw the sink, they will see what else is left over in the cupboard.
The Buckeyes have been preparing for many different forms of attack from the Trojan defense, and Barrett is confident that he will be prepared for what is coming.
“This month of practice has been very good to us,” Barrett said. “I think our coaches always are doing a great job trying to put us in the best situation to be successful, the best plays. As players, we just have to go out there and execute. I think not just myself, but the other guys on the offense just keep on gaining confidence in the practices, which is very good to see.”
While J.T. Barrett prepares for what he will see from the USC defense from his vantage point, the Ohio State offensive line has been doing the same thing from their own perspective.
The Trojans have more sacks than anybody else this season, save for the Clemson Tigers. They are an aggressive defensive front and one that caught left tackle Jamarco Jones’ attention very early on.
“They’ve got a big front. Big, physical guys up front,” he said. “Their linebackers are pretty good as well. We’re going to be going up against a really good front seven with a lot of talent. I think it’s pretty much going to be like a Big Ten game. One of those types of games that you just have to battle it out in the trenches.”
Heading into their respective conference championship games, both Ohio State and USC were thinking about the possibilities of making the playoffs.
Those possibilities never materialized, however, and now both teams find themselves in Dallas, waiting to play each other in one of the marquee bowl games of the year.
USC running back Ronald Jones is planning on using the game to make a statement.
“We’re going to treat it as a playoff game. They are too,” he said. “Make a statement. Just let us in next time. But, yeah, it’s definitely a big game. A lot of guys sit out games like this, but this is a New Year’s Six bowl.”
Speed on Speed on Speed
Once the Cotton Bowl was announced, USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin went to work on the Ohio State defense.
What he saw was a top 20 scoring defense, a top 10 rush defense, and a top 15 pass efficiency defense.
But that wasn’t all he saw.
What else got his attention?
“Athleticism, speed,” he said. “They can run on the perimeter, the DBs, secondary, linebackers on the field. But even when they have those guys on the field, they all can run. And third down, obvious passing downs get after their quarterback pretty good, multiple pass rushers.”
The personnel was an eye catcher. The scheme, on the other hand, isn’t too complicated. But it doesn’t need to be.
“A scheme that’s sound, not overly complicated but gets the guys in position to make plays,” Martin said. “And I think that’s what they do well, putting their players in position to make plays and do what they do best”