The interception he made on a deflected pass in the end zone against Purdue is almost a distant memory for C.J. Barnett. He figures he just was in the right place at the right time. Those are plays he expects to make.
But the Ohio State junior safety still dwells on the many chances he’s had to commit larceny, only to allow opponents’ passes to sail through his fingers. Those are plays that are tough to shake.
“I think I’ve had six dropped picks so far, which is ridiculous,” he said.
“I’m trying to let it slide, but it just kept happening. In the Indiana game, I think I dropped like three of them. … If I make those plays, it’s a different game. You’ve got to make those plays when they come to you. If not, they’ll get someone else in there.”
Barnett’s spot in the starting lineup, though, certainly is secure. The Northmont High School grad cracked the first string as a redshirt freshman in 2010, but played only two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
He started all of last season and has been a steadying influence in the secondary this year. He missed three games with an ankle sprain, and it’s probably no coincidence OSU has had its best defensive showings in the two full games he’s played since his injury.
“I think my role back there is just to be someone who’s calm and collected,” he said. “I never get too up, never get too down. I show emotion sometimes, but usually I’m the guy that calms everyone down. … I would describe my role, I guess, as the granddaddy back there.”
The Buckeyes likely will need the veteran perspective Barnett can provide on Saturday when they host woeful Illinois, which is on a five-game losing streak.
They’ve done their best work against the top teams, especially in night games. But lesser opponents have given them fits.
“Sometimes I’ve been around teams like that,” coach Urban Meyer said. “The Nebraska atmosphere, the Penn State atmosphere, we played our best games. I’ve addressed that. … I’m kind of counting on our guys going out there, growing up, performing and not worry whether it’s prime time or not.”
Schedule update: The Buckeyes have agreed to a two-game series with Boston College in 2020 and ’21, the same seasons they’ll face Oregon.
In the next 11 years, they’ll also play two games apiece against Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, North Carolina, TCU and Texas.
Kudos from coach: Quarterback Braxton Miller was asked what he thought of Meyer finally backing him as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
“It’s an honor to put my name in the Heisman thing,” he said. “You just work each and every day, and you never know what’s going to happen at the end. … You (can) win awards with our offense. It’s supposed to make big plays.”