Ohio State offense looks to handle aggressive Rutgers defense

OSU redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) attempts a pass during a game against Maryland on Oct. 4 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. Barrett threw for 267 yards and 4 touchdowns in OSU’s 52-24 win. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorComing off of its second bye week in a month’s time, the Buckeye offense is ready to get back onto the field.“It’s nice to get some rest on the bye week and get your body back, start feeling a little better than you had, but then you see all the other teams playing,” junior offensive lineman Taylor Decker said Monday. “It is fun being out there. It is definitely better than sitting at home.”The OSU offense, which racked up more than 1,200 yards in its last two games, will look to build on those performances this Saturday against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.The Scarlet Knights boast a defensive that has compiled 24 sacks on the season ­— led by a standout defensive line — which is tied for third in the country.With those kind of numbers, the Rutgers defensive front has drawn attention from the Buckeyes’ coaching staff.“They play with their hands — we call them violent hands. They are well-coached,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said during Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference. “They are always in the right gap so it’s a unique structure of defense that you can tell they have been doing it for several years and they are very good at it.”Decker said he expects the Scarlet Knights to throw a familiar look at the Buckeyes on Saturday.“Just like with any team we are going to play in the Big Ten, they are all going to have good players. We got into their defense practicing against it a little bit on the bye week,” Decker said. “We are expecting them to blitz a lot. We are probably expecting them to throw that bear cover zero at us too, because everybody has been trying it. We will probably get more into their personnel today and later through this week.”OSU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said Monday than he expects the Scarlet Knights’ defensive line to cause some problems for the Buckeye offense.“Front four are very active. They don’t blitz a ton on first and second down. I think somewhere in the range of 15 and 20 percent,” Herman said. “On third down, they try to really create confusion and havoc and they’ve got a whole third down specialist-type deal where they’re going to run a bunch of different guys in on the field and line up in some crazy alignments and try to confuse you and pressure the quarterback on third down.”The Buckeye quarterback, redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett, has filled in well for injured senior quarterback Braxton Miller as he has tossed 17 touchdowns passes to go along with 1,354 yards in Miller’s absence.Herman said while he doesn’t want to build up Barrett just yet, he has been happy with the young quarterback’s play so far.“I don’t know that I ever put an expectation level and said on Oct. 13, I expect him to be at this level. But where he’s at is a good place with still a lot of room for improvement,” Herman said. “To say he’s further along than he expected, I don’t know that I ever expected anything. But to say that he’s in a place that I’m pleased with right now would be an accurate assessment, knowing that he still has things that he can continue to get better at.”Barrett’s passing game specifically has helped the Buckeyes offenseOSU currently ranks in the top five in scoring offense in the FBS while also ranking No. 19 and No. 35 in rushing and passing offense respectively. That balance is something Herman said is a positive, but he still sees room for improvement.Herman said that he is pleased with the way the offense is performing but added that he believes there is always room for improvement.The season moves forward Saturday as OSU is scheduled to face-off with Rutgers at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.