Pregame run-in with photographer nearly shelved Barrett from the start

  • Marcus Hartman
  • Staff Writer
6:07 p.m Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 Sports

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the Ohio State-Michigan game comes up with something new.

The Buckeyes finished their 31-20 win over the Wolverines on Saturday without J.T. Barrett. Ironically, that has happened before, but this time the circumstances were different.

The senior quarterback limped off the field at Michigan Stadium after a scramble in the third quarter and went straight to the tunnel that leads to the locker room.

He was replaced by Dwayne Haskins, a redshirt freshman who led the Buckeyes to the go-ahead touchdown and finished the game at the controls.

After the game, Barrett and coach Urban Meyer explained Barrett was actually hurt twice, and the first time was before he even went into the game.

“I’m just so upset with myself,” Meyer said. “It was a non-football injury. Too many damn people on the sideline. A guy with a camera hit him in the knee. I’m gonna find out who. Think about that. So I’m so angry right now. I’ve got to move on. (Angry) that I let that happen.”

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Until Meyer brought it up in the postgame interview room, no one in the press had been aware of the origin of Barrett’s injury.

“I looked over and he was on the ground,” Meyer said. “We were worried he wasn’t going to be able to (play). He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. It locked up on him before the game. They got it to unlock. And then it locked up on him again. That’s what happened.”

While the coach was visibly angry, Barrett, the first Ohio State quarterback to start four wins over Michigan, didn’t seem too put out.

“I was warming up, trying to throw, and somebody tried to squeeze (between Barrett and the Buckeyes’ bench) I guess and he hit me,” Barrett said. “My knee just kind of shifted in, twisted up on me, and we was able to lock it out and put it back in, but that’s how it was.”

He played the first two and a half quarters, though he wasn’t sharp. He completed 3 of 8 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown while also running for 67 yards on 15 attempts.

The Texas native also revealed he had a recurring situation with the knee, one he has learned to deal with.

“It’s not anything too crazy,” Barrett said. “I’ve played with it this whole year. It’s just twisted and I just unlocked it. This time it just didn’t unlock for me.”

He wasn’t sure who made contact with him but didn’t think it was intentional or malicious.

“Nah, I don’t think it was that type of rivalry where people would try to do that,” Barrett said.

“I don’t know who it was. Michigan has a lot of people on our sideline, whether it be fans or camera people. I don’t know. He bumped me and my knee kind of shifted in. It’s happened before where my knee has just twisted on me. I have to hyper-extend it and get it to be untwisted.

“When it happened in a game I just locked my leg out and popped it back in and continued to play. I didn’t need to tell the trainers or tell anybody. I was good. I felt fine running around cutting before it happened the second time. So it wasn’t affecting me. It’s just in that few moments when it happens. Today I wasn’t able to pop it back in. So it’s not injured.”

Ironically, Barrett already knew what it was like to miss the end of a Michigan game. He broke a lower leg bone three years ago with the Buckeyes clinging to a lead in the fourth quarter. They ultimately won that one with Cardale Jones finishing.

That was unfortunate but something that happens in the course of a football game.

It was also season-ending.

This time, Barrett assured reporters after the game he will be ready when the Buckeyes play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday in Indianapolis.

As for the person who ran into him on the sideline? Meyer said he wants to find out who it was.

Barrett just recalled seeing someone wearing gray — which happens to be the color of vests worn by all photographers with credentials to shoot the game.

“He just continued to walk,” Barrett said. “I was pretty sure he got pretty nervous.”