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16 Jump Street: J.T. Barrett's Metamorphosis Into Tim Tebow Nearly Complete
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — It was a couple of weeks ago when the subject came up regarding the proposition of J.T. Barrett as a red zone specialist for the Buckeyes, much like Tim Tebow was for Urban Meyer at Florida as a freshman in 2006.

It was a legitimate thought because the Buckeyes had only converted 6 of 16 red zone opportunities into touchdowns through their first five games, and the effectiveness of a running threat down in the red zone is something that always stresses a defense. Without that running threat in there, a defense has less to worry about.

Since that running threat has been added, however, the Buckeyes are now 11 for 12 in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. That's not all simply J.T. Barrett, but the impact is clear.

So with the plan in place to continue this course, the next step in the full-blown conversion to the kind of red zone ace that Tebow was in 2006 was, of course, the implementation of the jump pass inside the 5-yard line.

And with just over six minutes to play in the game, Barrett took a snap at Penn State's 5-yard line, ran towards the line of scrimmage, and then jumped up to get a look over the line of scrimmage and tossed the ball to a wide open Braxton Miller in the end zone.

"Yeah, it was good, Barrett said after the game. "We knew that they were going to bite on that pretty hard so I just laid it up. Braxton did a good job of getting open versus man."

It was a brilliant play and perfectly effective, but whose idea was it?

"Who do you think?" offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said laughing after the game. "That’s Coach Meyer’s play."

"Wanting to do that for so long," Urban Meyer said in the postgame.

Meyer was then asked if that was his call or his wife's call, who has famously campaigned for other plays down inside the 10-yard line.

"That's between me and my wife," he laughed. "No, that was — the offensive staff has been working on that for a while. J.T. is a great manager. Glad to see Braxton get a play out of that, too, because he's a run threat out there. And they did pretty good."

They did more than pretty good, because Penn State was caught completely off guard, which they were for most of the evening where Barrett was concerned. And while the Nittany Lion defense may not have been ready for the play, the Buckeyes had been working on it for a while now, and have had the play in the playbook since at least 2013 when Kenny Guiton successfully converted a jump pass.

"Well, Coach Meyer’s made that famous over the years, so that’s always been in our package, and we happened to have the perfect opportunity there," Warinner said. "We were on the 5-yard line. We were debating what to do. We called a timeout and then we just thought what our options were, and decided on second down to give that a try and see if we could hit it, knowing that we still had third down to come back. What were we in the red zone today? Were we good? Six for six? Now 12 for 12. We need to find something else to work on now."

With Barrett's skills and ball handling abilities, there is a world of availabilities for him and the Buckeyes, and so it will be interesting to see what they come up with next. Though considering how well they executed this jump pass, it's hard to believe it will be the last time that we see it.

And no, Meyer isn't suggesting it constantly when the Buckeyes are down near the goal line; and no, Ed Warinner doesn't roll his eyes when Meyer does finally suggest his pet play.

"No, no, no, no, that’s the beautiful thing," Warinner explained. "He and I have worked together for four years and a couple of other guys on the staff as well, so nothing is mandated. It’s just, ‘What do you guys think? Is this going to work?’ And people see different things and the guys in the box had a good view because we were out there for a while and then we called a timeout, so they took a good look at the defense. So when he said, ‘Do you think that would work there?’ there was positive response from upstairs. He said to me, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘Let’s do it. Call it. Let’s go.’ We collaborate. And that’s the beauty of having a lot of good football minds working together instead of just one person having to bear the burden of everything."

The jump pass has brought Barrett one step closer to going Full Tebow for the Buckeyes, and if the 2006 National Champion Florida Gators are any indication, there is nothing wrong with that proposition.

And who knows, maybe it could also end up in a Heisman Trophy the following year, just like it did for Tebow in 2007.

Player profiles relevant to story:
16 - Barrett, J.T. | Coach - Meyer, Urban | Coach - Warinner, Ed
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