COLUMBUS, Ohio — Noah Brown’s circus TD catch against Oklahoma last Saturday was replayed over and over and retweeted for days, but his Ohio State teammates weren’t as impressed as everyone else. They’ve seen it all before.
Brown, a wide receiver who’d caught one pass at Ohio State prior to this season, had four touchdown receptions in the Buckeyes’ 45-24 victory over the Sooners. But the one everyone is still talking about happened at the end of the first half when Brown grabbed a J.T. Barrett pass and hugged the ball against the back of defensive back Michiah Quick as they fell out of bounds.
A great catch? Sure, said Barrett, but not a huge deal. The quarterback has been raving about Brown’s suction-cup hands for months already.
“I guess that’s the funny thing, we see him practice so it’s almost like it’s no big deal,” Barrett said. “And then it happens in a game, when everybody else sees it in the country and it’s blown up like that, I guess we forget that not everybody has seen that.”
Brown, a 6-foot-2 New Jersey native, saw limited playing time as a freshman in the 2014 national championship season and was expected to play a huge role last year before breaking a leg during fall training camp. This year, he’s second on the team with nine catches for 134 yards, and he leads the way with five touchdowns.
But the catch with Quick draped all over him in a nationally televised Saturday night game suddenly put him on college football’s radar.
“Any time J.T. puts the ball in the air he’s putting trust in me, and I try to come down with the ball for him,” Brown said. “I have to have my quarterback’s back. It felt good to make that play and put some points on the board for us.”
Like Barrett, coach Urban Meyer said he already knew what Brown could do. And he also knows that Brown is still recovering from the broken leg that sidelined him all of last season.
“He’s still not at the top end of speed,” Meyer said. “He still not quite 100 percent, which shows you just how good he can become. We all know he has the ability, but I’d say the quality of competition he did it against is always a little shocking when you have that kind of night.”
WORKING ON THE LITTLE THINGS
Ohio State players said they are using the off week to work on their mistakes and try to improve before embarking on the grueling nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning Oct. 1. Ohio State is No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll .
Barrett said he’s working on communicating better with receivers who had trouble getting lined up in time at various points during the Oklahoma game, leading to forced time outs and a delay-of-game penalty. Also he’s striving to get the ball out of his hands quicker and trust his playmakers.
“Everybody is looking for ways to get better,” said H-back Curtis Samuel, who leads the team in receiving yards and is second in rushing behind tailback Mike Weber. “Nobody is satisfied with where they’re at. Everybody is just looking to push each other and get each other to that point where they can really explode and really show their talents.”
HUG A BIG GUY
Barrett said he didn’t even want to think about what would happen if an Ohio State player dropped the ball right before crossing the goal line. There has been an epidemic the last couple of weekends of players nonchalantly letting go of the ball a stride before crossing the plane.
“I can only imagine what that day would be like for that man, the rest of the year, from coach Meyer,” Barrett said with a grin. “I couldn’t tell you how awful that might be.”
Replays showed Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon dropping the ball early on a 97-yard kick return, but the officials didn’t catch it. The gaffe has already cost Clemson and California touchdowns this season.
The Buckeyes even have a rule about it.
“We always make sure we keep the ball high and tight,” Samuel said. “That’s coach Meyer, keep the ball high and tight. After you score, give the ball to the official and go hug a big guy. That’s what we do.”
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