The last thing Ohio State needs is another injury at quarterback, but the Buckeyes will have to nurse one this week as J.T. Barrett suffered a sprained MCL in his knee, head coach Urban Meyer said at his weekly press conference Monday.
Meyer previously said that the redshirt freshman, who took over for senior Braxton Miller in the fall when Miller suffered a torn labrum Aug. 18, tweaked his knee during the No. 13 Buckeyes’ 31-24 win at Penn State.
Meyer said Barrett will be limited in practice this week but expects him to play when the Buckeyes take on Illinois in prime time Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
“obviously there’s no surgery or anything. I think he will be limited,” Meyer said. “We’re going to see how it goes. He’s probably going to be a guy that we won’t tell him he’s limited, but we’ll make sure he’s limited. It’s not throwing that’s a concern, it’s running.”
Barrett, who had thrown 17 touchdowns against just one interception the previous four weeks while vaulting into Heisman consideration, struggled vs. Penn State at times. He threw two interceptions that led to points, including a pick-six that shifted momentum after OSU held a 17-0 halftime lead, and finished 12-of-19 for 74 yards with a touchdown while rushing for 75 yards.
He was at his best in overtime, rushing for 32 yards on four carries with two touchdowns. His 17-yard run over the left side set up a 5-yard TD run in the first overtime, then he scrambled away from pressure in the second OT on second down before a powerful 4-yard touchdown run that served as the winning TD.
“He’s a guy that’s not going to say anything, but he’s one of the toughest cats I’ve ever been around,” Meyer said. “The thing that he did in that game, I’m just so impressed by that. To say I knew that (he would be that tough), I didn’t know that. How many guys could have done that? He had a very serious injury, an MCL is a serious injury, and to go in, he got hit on the 3-yard line ... it was unbelievable, he bulls his way in against the Penn State defense and wins the game.”
Barrett, who suffered a torn ACL his senior year of high school, might have to deal with the injury for the rest of the regular season depending on the severity. Miller was out for three weeks of action with an MCL sprain early last season and Carlos Hyde battled the same injury in 2012, missing two games.
On the year Barrett has run 98 times for 458 yards and six touchdowns while placing third in the nation in passing efficiency.