By Matt McCoy
When the Buckeyes open against Navy Saturday, youth will be served. The Buckeyes two-deep roster for the opener includes 16 freshmen---17 if you included place kicker Sean Nuemberger.
Five of the freshmen are listed as starter or co-starter at their position. The headliner is quarterback J.T. Barrett. The redshirt freshman will not only play in his first collegiate game, he's also making his first start. Barrett was thrust into the spotlight with the season ending shoulder injury to Braxton Miller. By all accounts he has handled himself perfectly in practice. How will be be on game day?
"That's a great question," Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer said. "Everybody's demeanor is different. The really neat thing about him is I don't anticipate anxiety...hopefully the ball gets snapped. I'll never forget Alex Smith (at Utah) couldn't say the first play...and I thought 'I don't know if he'll ever be any good'...and he turned out to be what he is."
Smith played for Meyer at Utah, and led the Utes to an undefeated season and was eventually the number one pick in the NFL draft.
How Will The Rest React?
It's not just Barrett and other key freshmen like running back Curtis Samuel, H-back Jalin Marshall, linebacker Darron Lee and defensive backs Gareon Conley and Eli Apple who will be have key roles for the first time in their careers.
First-time starters dominate the Buckeye two-deep, especially on offense where there are four new linemen, sophomore Ezekiel Elliott at running back along with Barrett at QB.
"They're good players so (I'm not) nervous," Meyer said of his youthful offense. "Nervous is when you don't have very good players and I think they're very good."
Respect For Navy
There are opponents...and then there are schools like Navy. The guys on the Midshipmen are more than just players or student-athletes. They are future leaders and protectors of our country. This particular Navy team also happens to play some pretty good football.
"There's just a tremendous amount of respect for who they are and what they do," Meyer said. "I know how hard it is to get into (the Naval Academy) and I know their schedules so I have a lot of respect for who they are. But you take that out of the equation this time because I think they're really good. We have to play our best to win this game."
Navy finished 9-4 last year and return star quarterback Keenan Reynolds who rushed for 1,346 yards and 31 touchdowns last season.
To listen to all of Urban Meyer's comments on J.T. Barrett, the Buckeye two-deep, Navy and more, click here: