Kirk's Corner: Always Enjoy The Wins

Saturday was a bumpy ride for Ohio State, but it was bumpier for teams like Ole Miss and USC that lost last weekend. There's always time to enjoy the wins, former OSU All-American Kirk Barton says, especially when they come as sweetly as Saturday's did.

Former Ohio State offensive tackle Kirk Barton started four wins against Michigan in his career and also spent time on the coaching staff under Luke Fickell and Urban Meyer. He’ll check in with BSB throughout the season with his thoughts on the Buckeyes’ season.

Thinking about Ohio State’s double-overtime win at Penn State, the thing I’ve learned since I’ve played and coached and now I’m just a general follower of the program, I enjoy every win now.

When I was a player and a coach, you’re just always somewhat miserable because there is always something you could have done better, or you know you had a chance to put a team away and we let them back in the game. Or you gave up a quarterback hit, or you didn’t rush for 150 yards. There are so many things that you go through and nitpick about.

I enjoy the wins now because you could wake up the next day and be an Ole Miss fan, who lost at the end of the game Saturday, or you could be like USC. I was watching all these teams go down at the end of the night, and I’m happy to pull out a win.

The Buckeyes had a lot of things against them, and it was a strange game, so I’m just happy they got the win. I’m happy for the players, I’m happy for the coaches, the program. I’m just happy in general.

I feel like sometimes there is a little too much negativity about what went wrong or what isn’t as good as people want it to be or whatever. At the end of the day winning at Penn State at night when that’s their rivalry, their Michigan game, it’s a good thing, especially when you have a really young team.

Most of those guys that are playing, especially on offense, they’ve never played there before so they probably didn’t realize how bad it can be in terms of how loud it is. As I think about it, only Evan Spencer and Jeff Heuerman had ever really played there before on offense. For an O-lineman that hasn’t played there before it’s just a different bird because it’s just so damn loud.

For them to be able to have their mettle tested and then pull it out in double overtime, I think the guys realize they’re going to need a really strong effort in East Lansing in two weeks. Penn State is a tougher venue, but the team’s not nearly as good as Michigan State is going to be in my opinion.

I think it’s good they got out of there with a win, and then they’ll have motivation the next two weeks to get in gear and get ready to go for it. To be honest, if they have any aspirations to make the playoff and win the national title, they have to be on it the next two weeks. If they don’t get that one done, all their dreams die.

The Buckeyes are still kids, and they’re still young. They were playing out of their shoes for three weeks vs. lesser competition, so it was good that they had to go through a pretty good trial. Playing out there is no joke. They were able to get punched in the face a little bit and then step up and end up winning the game.

I felt like the offensive line played better as they got more used to the noise – they were great in the two overtimes. It’s one of those things where I think it’s good to have that test and it’s a good kind of eye-opener that this is what East Lansing is going to be like.

As for Joey Bosa, he’s a real low-key guy. He’s quiet, but he’s just a great kid. He’s got every tool you can imagine. He’s so strong, he’s quick. He’s only 19 years old, which is the most mind-blowing thing. He looks like he’s an NFL starter. He’s built better than most guys that start in the NFL right now.

He makes the biggest play of the game, he celebrates with his teammates, he goes and hugs Larry Johnson. They’re a great family and he’s a great kid. I’m just happy for him that he has had so much success and he’s played well. Honestly he’s a load for any tackle that has to take him on for a whole game because he is 6-5, 6-6, he’s 270 pounds, he’s strong as an ox.

His production has just been off the charts. He’s had a game-changing play in every game so far. Against Cincinnati he crushes Gunner Kiel and it leads to a safety, against Virginia Tech down on the closed end of the stadium he forced that fumble when Ohio State tied the game. He’s a difference maker, plain and simple.

On the final play, someone blew it up front for Penn State. There is no scheme in the history of football that would leave a 3-technique unblocked to a running back when the quarterback is in shotgun because the running back has no chance. You get a 3-yard head start on a running back who is stepping right in front of the quarterback, that’s going to happen every time.

Loudest Atmosphere
When I was on the staff in 2012 in Urban Meyer’s first year, I told those guys it’s the loudest place to play in the Big Ten and it’s the hardest place to play in the Big Ten.

We always have to play Penn State at night. Other than like 2009, which was a 3:30 game, we had to play them at night every time we were down there in 2005, ’07 and 2012. It’s like the marquee game on their schedule. That’s their Ohio State-Michigan game, basically.

I honestly think we may have been the first White Out when we lost in ’05. Now every time we go it’s a White Out or every time Michigan goes there it’s a White Out. I think that’s their biggest recruiting game. We have Virginia Tech at night, we have Michigan at the end of the year. I’m not sure what game they would have that would be bigger than that one in terms of having unofficial visits and official visits. They’re not going to have a better environment all year than when we come to town.

It’s tough and it’s something that I think you really have to emphasize in practice. In all honestly when we went out there in ’05, I guess none of us really realized how bad that stadium was in terms of how noisy it was. Jim Tressel’s staff, in 2003 and ’01 when they went out there it wasn’t a night game, so no one had been there at night. It’s kind of like Death Valley at LSU at night vs. during the day. It’s a much louder, more crazy kind of venue at night, especially when we come to town because they hate us so much.

The thing that we learned from ’05 to ’07 was how big an impact the noise can have. I don’t think it affected us directly, but we literally couldn’t communicate anything in ’05 in terms of offensive line calls because you could be standing next to your buddy – I was standing next to T.J. Downing and he would have to look at Nick Mangold’s mouth and get the call and then turn to me and scream it, and I’d have to read his lips. Literally he is two feet away from me and I’m down in my stance, and you couldn’t hear him. You can’t get a single call.

In our offense our center would call the pass protection. He would point out the Mike linebacker then he would pick out where we would go with our slides. If you don’t hear that, it’s really hard. In 2007, Jim Cordle used sign language. He would do something with his hands and it would be what direction we were sliding or who the Mike was, but then he would give another signal for what his call was going to be. That made it pretty easy, and they weren’t as good as they were in ’05, but we beat them pretty good.

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 barton.145@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter @Kirk_Barton.


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