Ohio State prepping for Hawkeyes


By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com



Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz is a fan of J.T. Barrett, but maybe not so much of the alternate uniforms the Hawkeyes will wear against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon.

Responding to a question during his weekly press conference on Tuesday about the calls from some people to replace Barrett as OSU’s starting quarterback earlier this season, he labeled that as “more than crazy.”

“It’s stupid. That was ridiculous, whoever was saying that, if anybody was. He’s a tremendous player.

“When I watch film, the guy’s a winner. I don’t think he was highly recruited – I don’t remember the story. I think he was kind of under the radar but whoever identified him really saw something,” Ferentz said.

Iowa will wear black pants and black jerseys with gray numbers on a gold background. The Hawkeyes also will wear special helmets.

Ferentz’s tongue-in-cheek reaction was to say when he first saw the alternate uniforms he was so excited he couldn’t sleep.

Turning serious, Ferentz said he understands the reasons behind one-time uniform switches.

“I get this. I’ve really changed my approach on all this stuff. I’m really for all this stuff now. If guys play, if they play well, I’m all for it,” he said.

DIXON AND TDs GO TOGETHER: Ohio State receiver Johnnie Dixon has caught 13 passes this season and six of them have produced touchdowns.

Two of his six touchdown catches came in the fourth quarter of OSU’s come-from-behind 39-38 win over Penn State last Saturday night.

Dixon downplayed his emergence as a playmaker this season after battling injuries most of the last three seasons.

“I’m just a piece of the puzzle. We have a lot of guys who are capable of doing what I did,” Dixon said on Tuesday. “We (OSU’s receivers) know when the ball is in the air and it’s time to make a play and it’s your turn, you’d better make the play.”

Dixon also attempted to run in a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter against Penn State but was stopped short. After the game, OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said Dixon was supposed to throw a pass to tight end Marcus Baugh but didn’t have time to throw the ball.

FULLER EMERGING AT SAFETY: First-year starter Jordan Fuller has had 15 tackles in the last two games, nearly half of his season total of 34.

Fuller had six tackles against Nebraska and nine against Penn State.

“I think he’s gaining confidence. This is his first year starting,” OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said on Tuesday.

“I think he kind of felt his way through the first couple games, figuring out what he can and can’t do. You could see him getting more comfortable. That’s the way it usually progresses – guys get more comfortable with things and then they start to play faster,” Schiano said.

STARTERS TO KICKOFF TEAMS?: Urban Meyer’s talk of personnel shake-ups on OSU’s kickoff teams apparently is not an idle threat and could put some starters on the field in kick coverage.

After a Tuesday practice, starting middle linebacker Chris Worley said, “He (Meyer) made it clear there’s going to have to be some guys who play a lot of football around here, offense and defense, who might have to go into the game on special teams.”

Worley said he told linebackers coach Bill Davis all of the starting linebackers are ready to help.

“If it’s me or Bake (Jerome Baker) or Book (Dante Booker) who has to go into the game, we’re all willing to make changes,” said Worley, who played on kickoff teams earlier in his career.

Penn State’s Saquon Barkley returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown last Saturday, two games after Maryland’s Ty Johnson fielded a kickoff and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.

The Buckeyes’ punt coverage teams are at the other end of the spectrum, though. Opposing teams have not been able to advance any of Drue Chrisman’s punts this season.

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By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com