I think it’s safe to say we’ve officially had the first verbal shots fired in the run-up to the College Football Playoff.
Clemson will square off with Ohio State in one of the CFP semifinals on New Year’s Eve, with the winner advancing to face the Alabama-Washington survivor in the national championship game. Players in the former game met with the media for about an hour Tuesday, with safety Jadar Johnson gifting those assembled with some bulletin-board material in offering a very frank assessment of OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
He’s pretty good. We’ve definitely faced quarterbacks better than him. I feel like if we can limit him on the ground with his running then we’ll be pretty good. I don’t think he’s a very accurate passer. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from him. He’s definitely a good player, but I feel like his strong point is on his legs.
“Not taking anything away from him, I don’t think he’s a bad player, he’s definitely a good player. He just doesn’t stand out as one of the best quarterbacks we’ve played this year as a defense.
“Actually, I feel like he’s a great quarterback on his legs. I don’t feel real strong about his arm. I don’t feel like he’s one of the best passers. I feel like if we can limit him on his legs, limit him in the running game, I feel like we’ll have a pretty good chance of doing good.
The quarterbacks Johnson, a first-team All-ACC performer, and his Tigers defensive teammates were charged with slowing down this season included Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman and Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans. All of those players ranked higher than Barrett this season in passing efficiency, and the Buckeyes’ struggles in the passing game have been widely noted throughout OSU’s run to the playoffs, so Johnson’s assessment of Barrett is not exactly coming out of nowhere.
Johnson’s teammates, though, were a bit more complimentary of Barrett.
Clemson LB Ben Boulware gushed about Barrett. Said he can pass and run and is as intelligent as any QB in the country.
— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) December 27, 2016