Jard Work: Williams' Impact And More

Wonder what the Ohio State coaches feel Nathan Williams brings to the table? Curious as to how C.J. Barnett is handling his recent surgery? Want to know what the Buckeyes think of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson? This week's installment of "Jard Work" has you covered.

Nathan Williams wasted little time in making an impact during his return to the Ohio State lineup. Six plays into the first drive of the game for Miami (Fla.), the junior defensive end came up with an interception after sophomore safety C.J. Barnett deflected a pass.

But as late as the Thursday before the game, linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said the coaches were not sure how much – or if at all – Williams would be able to go as he continued to recover from a knee injury suffered Aug. 14.

"He'd had a bad knee and going into Tuesday he couldn't go," he said. "He came out Wednesday and it was like, ‘Maybe he can go.' On Thursday the trainer said he couldn't play more than a few plays."

As Fickell pointed out, however, Williams did not start. He replaced junior Solomon Thomas on the third play of the game as the Buckeyes switched from their base defense to nickel. He remained in as they then switched back to their base defense.

The 6-3, 260-pound Williams has recorded 44 tackles including 12 for loss and 5 ½ sacks while carving out an early role in OSU's defensive line rotation. His interception against the Hurricanes was his only statistic during the contest. In comparison, the 6-5, 255-pound Thomas has made 11 tackles in three years after taking a redshirt season.

"He really gives us a spark," Fickell said of Williams. "He's a little bit different than the other guys and has some versatility. Not that those other guys hadn't done a great job like Solomon Thomas, but when you only have to play 40 snaps as opposed to 60 or 70 snaps, you can be a lot more effective."

Barnett Not Down, Just Out – Just as Barnett was starting to impress with his physical brand of play, the sophomore safety was lost for the season with a knee injury. Inside the OSU locker room, however, Barnett's demeanor has apparently barely changed since the prognosis.

According to seniors Dexter Larimore and Devon Torrence, Barnett remains an upbeat figure for the Buckeyes.

"He's hurting, but I think he's optimistic," Larimore said. "He's looking forward. He's doing all the right things. Right now it's a hard time for him coming off a good game, being a guy to step in and do well for us and then all of a sudden get hurt. It's a bad situation but he's optimistic and he's doing well mentally."

Torrence, a cornerback, said it was possible that the rest of the team feels worse about the situation than Barnett does.

"C.J., he's a cool kid," the senior said. "He's not down or anything like that. He's a happy, joking guy all the time so he's not really down. We made sure he was all right. He's doing all right. We'll keep our prayers with him and he should be back soon."

Here's To You, Mr. Robinson – The performance put on by Michigan starting quarterback Denard Robinson has not gone unnoticed in Columbus.

Two games into the season, the sophomore has carried the ball 57 times for 455 yards and completed 43 of 62 passes for 430 yards. Robinson has a combined five touchdowns so far.

OSU head coach Jim Tressel said the Wolverines have been impressive this season, but Larimore offered some more insight into why.

Last season, Robinson saw some action against the Buckeyes. He carried the ball 10 times for 31 yards and completed 2 of 4 passes for 3 yards. Larimore said OSU was able to limit his effectiveness because he was more of a one-threat quarterback last season.

"Last year he was a guy that they came in and did what we call a wildcat formation where he's going to come in and he's probably not going to throw it," he said. "This year obviously he's been doing very well in the passing game and getting balls out there. That's what is probably critical to their offense posing that threat of they can still throw it so now you can't have eight or nine in the box. You have to spread it out."

Initially a four-star cornerback prospect as ranked by Scout.com, Robinson also held scholarship offers from Florida, Georgia and South Florida, among others. As a freshman, Robinson carried the ball 69 times for 351 yards and completed 14 of 31 passes for 188 yards.

Last year "he might throw a little out route, but he was going to run it," Larimore said of Robinson. "I think that's why last year we were able to stop it is because we knew it was probably going to be a run so we lined up in run formations and got a blitz going.

"Obviously we don't look ahead, but he's doing an unbelievable job there. That's the offense that (U-M head coach) Rich Rodriguez has probably been looking for. It's going to be fun to try and stop him because he's doing phenomenal."

The Posey Bowl – In case you have been living under a rock this week, Saturday's game will feature two brothers going against each other: OSU's DeVier Posey and OU's Julian Posey.

Here's a few of the best quotes from the OSU wide receiver.

"Not a day goes by that we don't talk. We're on the same cell phone bill. If we're not talking about how his day was it's me telling him to give me his money for the bill. That's one of my best friends.

"I plan on talking to him the same amount. It's weird because most of the time when we talk during the season it's, ‘Oh, who do you guys have this week? What do they do? Who are you going to be guarding?' It's weird this week because I can't tell him too much. We probably won't talk as much but I'll see him on the field and we'll have a conversation.

"I remember last time we played him my freshman year he told me he was going to line up and hit me in my face for all the times he left the living room and I stole the remote from him or I took his seat at the dinner table. I have a lot of memories of him beating me up when I was younger and I couldn't really defend myself. He hasn't really seen the 2010 DeVier. I'm excited to show him."

Torrence said he is familiar both with going up against his brother and with Posey's brother.

"I went up against my younger brother Devoe all the time," he said. "It's going to be pretty exciting to see what DeVier does. Julian is a really good friend of ours. He'll come up here and we'll all hang out so it will be interesting to see how they react."

Pitching The Ball – Larimore knows his chances of rumbling with the football after nabbing an interception are slim at best. But after watching line-mates Cameron Heyward and Williams each come up with picks in last week's win against Miami (Fla.), Larimore said he has a plan in case of emergency.

"The big joke is when Cam was running down there like, ‘Why didn't you pitch that to a guy that could score?' " he said. "The big joke is that if I ever get it, make sure you come by me because I'm going to be looking to pitch it so you can get in the end zone. The other side of that is I said, ‘If you guys are by the goal line, be looking for me to pitch it and I'll run in for you.' "

As a tackle, Larimore said the last interception he could recall came many years ago.

"In middle school I did, but I think it was in practice," he said. "Nobody stopped me, that's for sure."

During a 2007 victory at Purdue, Larimore dropped a potential pick at the goal line as the Buckeyes unsuccessfully tried to preserve a shutout in the final moments.

"I'm always looking for it," he said. "I don't know if it's going to happen."

He might have a chance, however. Both linemen came up with their interceptions when they dropped into coverage. Against the Hurricanes, Larimore said his position was required to do the same on a few plays but that he was not on the field at the time. Instead, it was freshman Johnathan Hankins who was in coverage.

Larimore said the Buckeyes could have a secret weapon should 6-3, 335-pound freshman Johnathan Hankins come up with an interception.

"If we get the ball in Big Hank's hands, it's going to be hard to stop him," the senior said. "It's going to be hard for him to get going, but it's going to be hard to stop him too."


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