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Buckeye Football Notebook: 'We have another wave of playmakers that we have coming up too'
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — After weeks of near-hits, running back Michael Weber finally came away with a couple of long runs last weekend against Rutgers. He had a 49-yard run that could have gone the distance if not for a defender having the angle on him, but there was no such angle for the Rutgers defense on Weber's 46-yard touchdown run.

The play, which was dissected here, was thanks to excellent blocking as well as a perfect diagnosis of those blocks by quarterback J.T. Barrett.

Speaking with the media this week, Weber was asked about his quarterback, but before he could answer, Barrett sidled up to the media throng to await Weber's answer.

"He’s not very good," Weber said, looking at Barrett while trying to hide a smile.

For his part, Barrett had a few choice words before walking off. Weber was then asked about what makes Barrett so good with the read option, specifically on his 46-yard touchdown run.

"After the play he came to me and said it took him forever to hand me the ball because he was trying to read the D-end and he was just sitting there," Weber explained. "But he saw the blocks developing down the field, so he just handed it off to me. I think he’s really good on the read-option plays. He’s a good quarterback and he’s got a huge future ahead of him."

Much was made last season about the lack of fluidity in the play calling for the Ohio State offense. That fluidity didn't really start picking up until both Ed Warinner and Tim Beck were upstairs in the press box. This move also allowed them to run more up-tempo offense, which proved quite effective against both Michigan and Notre Dame at the end of the 2015 season.

J.T. Barrett was asked if there has been a noticeable difference in the play calling between this season and last season. He admitted there is a difference, but probably not in the way that you might think.

"Not really," he said. "I think it was more of the plan going in. I think last year we were trying to get the perfect play each and every time because as an offense of course you want to do that. This year we’re running plays, we’re playing fast, and if they got us one time out of the 90 plays we run, then darn, they got us. It wasn’t that big of a deal that they got us a couple times. I think the main thing is that we’re playing fast and we’re not trying to get into a perfect play each and every time. So it’s letting the guys line up and just fire off the ball, whereas last year it was kind of like, ‘Well, we want to get in the perfect play,’ which if you try to play like that then you’ll drive yourself crazy."

When defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was hired by Urban Meyer and he got to address his players for the first time he let them know that there was NFL talent in the room because he had seen it when he had visited Ohio State previously. He also let them know, however, that talent needs to be developed and pushed if it is to reach its potential.

"I said, ‘I can see the talent is there,'" he recalled. "I had visited before. Sometimes the biggest gap is between the talent and achieving what that talent is capable of. We have quite a few if they’ll continue to get better. We’ve had quite a few, so I think that cycle will continue as long as we continue to develop them and as long as they continue to work."

Knowing that the NFL is achievable can be an incredible motivator for the players.

"I think that’s part of our program," Schiano said. "I think the expectations are extremely high not only as a team but individually. When you’re around that every day in the locker room, that’s what you strive for."

Last Saturday the Buckeyes saw several true freshmen take the field on both sides of the ball. For some of them -- like running back Antonio Williams and receiver Binjimen Victor -- it was their first action of the season.

Despite the fact that they hadn't played until the fourth game of the season, there was no doubt among their teammates that they were ready.

"We see those guys every day in practice, so we know what they can do," left tackle Jamarco Jones said. "It’s just a matter of them getting the chance to go out there and do it. Ben makes some crazy catches. You know he’s a long athletic guy. Antonio, he’s a really tough guy. In the spring he and Mike were the only two backs really. So we know what Antonio can do as well. Being able to see him go out there and perform, it was exciting to know we have another wave of playmakers that we have coming up too.

There was also another freshman skill player who played, but it wasn't his first turn at the wheel. Running back Demario McCall has played in three of the Buckeyes' first four games, and scored in two of them. Against Rutgers he rushed for 85 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown on a 39-yard jaunt.

"Oh man, he is fast," Jones said. "It seems like every time he touches the ball he scores almost. He played really well when he got his chance too. I think that was his first drive in there and maybe his first or second carry he got that long touchdown run. It’s just exciting to see stuff like that. And then those guys, the second unit was out there. But just to see those guys get an opportunity and that happens, it’s just a great feeling.

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