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The Buckeyes' Game-Winning Touchdown Was Months in the Making
By Patrick Murphy
 

COLUMBUS – When J.T. Barrett dropped back to throw on third down and two yards to go in overtime against Wisconsin on Saturday night, he wasn’t nervous or unsure. The Buckeye quarterback knew what he was doing because he’d run that play a thousand times before.

“I think that’s something that we worked on countless times in the summer,” the Ohio State quarterback said following the dramatic win.

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from working with the players in normal practice during the summer, so it’s up to leaders like Barrett to get workouts together. But the quarterback doesn’t just use that time to build chemistry and get into rhythm with his receivers, but rather work game scenarios just like the one against the Badgers.

“We don’t go out there to just throw routes,” Barrett explained. “We play the situation, play coverage and understand that that’s when it’s going to come up and that’s something that came up today and I just put it up there, back shoulder and he did a great job adjusting and he made the play.”

Barrett’s confidence on the play also stemmed from his intended receiver. The 6-foot-2 Noah Brown is the ideal target to go up and get the ball and has the hands to make the catch.

“I think it’s preparation,” he said. “All throughout the summer, me and J.T. have been working on fades, end zone passes just like that and just routes in general. Having awareness of the field, I’m pretty comfortable in that situation because I practice it a lot.”

Of course it wasn’t the first catch like this Buckeye Nation has witnessed between these two, nor the second, third nor fourth. In the third game of the year, Brown caught four corner-of-the-endzone touchdowns at Oklahoma, and while the country was amazed with what Brown could do in both road games, it was just another day at the office.

“I kind of found that out after the Oklahoma game,” Brown said on Monday. “People were ‘Wowing’ things that we think are routine because we’ve practiced it so much and people don’t really understand the effort that we put into it. So I’m just glad to make the play.”

If the game-winning play in overtime looked familiar, it’s because the Buckeyes ran the same set in the second quarter against Bowling Green the opening Saturday of the season. As you might expect, the result was the same.

“As a receiver all I can I ask for is a chance to make a play,” Brown said. “So if (J.T.) can put it somewhere where he gives us an opportunity, that’s all I can ask for. That’s all I expect really from him.”

While Brown admits he still has a lot to work on, he was unhappy with his drop on an easy out route on the first possession against the Badgers, he is pleased to help his team keep winning.

According to Brown, the duo typically won’t leave the practice field before completing at least two of these plays and that preparation has been key for the Buckeye duo on the six touchdowns this year.

But as Brown is quick to point out, it helps having Ohio State’s all-time leader in touchdowns accountable for throwing him the ball.

“I definitely think it’s a blessing to have a quarterback as great as him,” Brown said. “As a wide receiver, it makes a lot of things more easy and just the leader that he is as a player in general.”

Player profiles relevant to story:
16 - Barrett, J.T.
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