Rex Kern, who helped lead Ohio State to a national championship in 1968, is about as old school as old school can get. For a guy who played the game under legendary head coach Woody Hayes, you wouldn’t have expected anything different.
“A great defense wins championships,” Kern told BSB, “and Clemson’s defense was just too quick, too fast and too strong for our offense.”
According to the former All-American, there is no easy fix.
“First, I would have a full team meeting,” Kern said. “I would start with the special teams guys in the front row, defense in the second row and the offense in the third row. I would review each component of the team and explain how each phase of the game is interdependent on each other.
“After that, I would watch the game film of each phase. After the special teams are reviewed, release them to their coaches. The same for the defense and then the same for the offense. My point to the offense would be to get quicker, think smarter, be stronger and never quit.”
When all is said and done, Kern said he would remind the team that a lot of deficiencies can be overcome with solid fundamentals.
“The offensive line has to know its assignments,” he said. “The receivers have to run their routes exactly the way they’re taught and run them that way every time. That alone helps your quarterback because he knows where you’ll be every time.
“Running backs have to be north-south runners. And for the quarterback, read the defense, make the proper adjustments, be on time with your throws and be confident your receivers will be where they are supposed to be even if the defense tries to take that away from you.
“Raw talent only takes you so far, but if you back that up with solid fundamentals, talent can take you a long, long way.”
With regard to Barrett, Kern said he can’t believe the kind of criticism being leveled at the veteran quarterback.
“J.T. is the same today as he was yesterday – a great leader, a winner and someone to be admired,” Kern said. “But no one wins every game. I have lived in those shoes and it hurts to your core. It still stings today, nearly 50 years later, that we did not win two more games between 1968 and 1970.
“But J.T. will be fine. He is a strong young man, and I have a feeling this kind of adversity will make him even stronger.”
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