Dozens of reporters squeezed into a room the size of a large closet Saturday to watch quarterback J.T. Barrett give his first press conference since his OVI citation on Oct. 31.
After a 28-3 victory over Illinois at Memorial Stadium, Barrett answered every question with poise, including the one about whether there was anything he wanted to say to Ohio State fans.
“I’m truly sorry for my actions,” Barrett said. “I know the main thing about it is I wasn’t thinking really about my position here at Ohio State. I’m facing consequences. That’s going to be a long-term thing I’m going to deal with. But I’m moving forward. I extremely apologize to Buckeye Nation. I never want to hurt Ohio State and what it’s done for me as a person and also as a player. It was just a selfish act.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer suspended Barrett for one game after the incident during the bye week. He didn’t play in the 28-14 victory against Minnesota but returned to the starting role Saturday. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 150 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“Last week was not fun. It was rough not being out there,” Barrett said. “Today was good. I just tried to play within myself. I wasn’t trying to force anything. I think it was a good day, but I can definitely get better.”
Big game: Ohio State led 21-3 and faced a fourth-and-1 at the 50-yard line late in the third quarter. Meyer elected to go for it, and Ezekiel Elliott ran nine yards for the first down.
The drive ended with an interception by Barrett, but Meyer needed to see his offense deal with a moment like that, so it’ll be ready if a similar situation presents itself next Saturday against Michigan State or the following week at Michigan.
“I just challenged the offensive line,’ Meyer said. “To that point, we were playing good but not great. I knew the defensive line was the strength of their unit. With what’s coming down the road, if I can’t trust the offensive line right now, then we’ve got a major problem. You try to train and prepare them for those moments so you can look them in the eye and say, ‘Can you get this?’ Obviously with Zeke and four returning starters, you better be able to get that.”
Ohio State also converted a fourth-and-11 play in the second quarter. Barrett ran 16 yards and scored on a 6-yard run four plays later.
Tackle leader: Linebacker Raekwon McMillan led the defense with 14 tackles. He also had two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.
Bosa’s game: Defensive end Joey Bosa had seven tackles, and three were for a loss. In Big Ten play, he leads the conference with 12.5 tackles for a loss.
“He’s a team guy. Last year he wasn’t,” Meyer said. “He was just a guy who did his own deal and did it well. He’s all about team now. He’s all about being unselfish.”