I think you can learn a lot in the 66-0 win against Kent State. The only thing that stinks, in reality, is that’s the kind of team you want to open up with. I know people hate seeing cupcakes to open it up, but you have a young team, and it could have helped build confidence and it can really help because you can empty your bench.
A lot of young guys played a lot of minutes, which is nice because when you play a team like Navy – who is really good, I think – you can’t get any of the young guys in. I feel like if they had opened with Kent, they probably would have beaten Virginia Tech because they would have gone into the game with a little bit more confidence.
The passing game looked good. It was nice for J.T. Barrett to get some confidence and find his receivers, and the offensive line looked good. Guys feel good, they played well and the young guys got in, so they feel better about themselves. You want a game where you can empty the bench and get kids in and let them make plays and feel like they’re ready to contribute.
Down the stretch, you’re going to need Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon and all those kids. You’re going to need Jamarco Jones. In reality, Jamarco could be the starting tackle. He and Kyle Dodson are both one play away from being in. Since they burned Jamarco’s redshirt, and now that he’s seen the field, he has to realize he can contribute for real now because if anything happens to Darryl Baldwin or Taylor Decker, he has to be ready to roll.
My goal in games like that was always to go out and kick the crap out of them and be done by halftime. It’s good for the starters because the starters get work, but it’s really important to build depth and get young guys to play because honestly, as much as they scrimmage and practice, I know it’s a cliché, but there’s nothing like getting live reps in front of a real crowd against another opponent. There’s no substitute for it.
It was good to see Raekwon step up and play, the young kids on special teams, Marcelys Jones and Jamarco play offensive line and Marcus Baugh score a touchdown. Those are the things you can’t get in practice. All those guys that burned their redshirts that are like back seven guys, they need live reps to see if they can chip in on special teams.
That would take some of the strain off the defensive starters who are on special teams. The thing about college football is you’ve got 105 guys on the sideline at home and you have 70 on the road. It’s not like an NFL roster where you only dress 45 guys and you have eight guys who are inactive. In college, you have really talented guys, and if they can go out and play special teams and you can take a couple of starters off special teams, that’s huge for as long as this season is going to be.
I don’t think they’re completely out of making the College Football Playoff. I know the Virginia Tech loss killed them, but if Ohio State starts beating the tar out of Big Ten teams, I think they could have an outside shot even though Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina.
Kent State also played some Bear defense just like Virginia Tech, and Ohio State did a good job of countering it because it had better athletes. When Kent State figured out Ohio State was ready for it and they didn’t have the personnel to do it, they got out of it and went back to their normal defense, but the general rule of thumb in football is anything that hurts you bad, you’re going to see it in the coming weeks.
Ohio State, I bet, every week is going to have Bear defense review. Conversely, if you’re scouting a team and you see the team the week prior do something that hurts them, you’re probably going to try to install whatever that is, if it was a certain play, a screen pass, a route concept, a run. That’s football. You can expect to see it again and again until you figure out how to stop it.
In 2012, it was a complete pain in the butt because our offense was new to the Big Ten and we didn’t know how teams were going to line up against us. Teams never lined up against us like they did against other opponents.
Every week, we would get out there and there was something different than what we practiced against. Against Wisconsin in 2012, we thought they were going to blitz us on every single play, and they didn’t blitz us a single time. Every time I ran a scout-team play (as a coach), we had a guy blitzing.
I think Cincinnati is going to be a tough test for Ohio State. Tommy Tuberville is a really good coach. This isn’t like a normal UC team because of Gunner Kiel. I know he was the No. 1 quarterback in the nation coming out of high school in the 2012 class. That’s just a different kind of guy from what they’ve had at Cincinnati. They haven’t had a quarterback who is that talented.
Tuberville beat Urban in 2006 and ’07 when he was at Auburn. You always remember the guys that beat you, especially when it’s during a national championship year and it’s your only loss. I’m sure Urban has tons of respect for Tommy Tuberville. I sat and listened to Tuberville at the Ohio coaches’ clinic on defensive line play, and he is really good technically. It’ll be interesting.
I wonder how much old Florida vs. Auburn tape they’re going to study. We go no-huddle now, but our offense is pretty close to the same. We still ran a lot of the same plays Urban ran at Florida. I wonder if they’ll take a peek back at the old Auburn/Florida games in addition to regular cut-ups.
A team captain in 2007, Kirk Barton was named an All-American that same year as a senior. After earning his MBA from Ohio State, he is a sales executive with Oswald Companies in Columbus. He works in the area of business development with a focus on property and casualty coverage. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @Kirk_Barton.