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Ohio State Needs More From J.T. Barrett
By Patrick Murphy

COLUMBUS – Sometimes looks can be deceiving. For instance, J.T. Barrett’s stat line in 2016 shows 498 passing yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 92 yards and three more scores in two games. The quarterback is thought to be a Heisman Trophy candidate this season for the second time in his career.

Those numbers are good, but a closer look shows a bit of a different story.

In his second pass of the year, Barrett threw an interception reminiscent of a freshman, not a fourth-year junior. That play was a reversion back to mistakes Ohio State fans saw early in 2014 before Barrett settled into college football, hesitating too long before getting the ball out and not putting it close enough to his intended receiver.

While Barrett’s opening day of 2016 ended well, the interception wasn’t his only poor play. In the second quarter, Barrett nearly replicated that throw, hesitating again and not getting the ball out quick enough. Fortunately for him, the Bowling Green defender dropped the interception that might have been returned for another touchdown.

We said heading into week two’s matchup with Tulsa that we wanted to see more from Barrett. He is the leader of the offense, expected to distribute to the many weapons around him, yet through the first half of the 48-3 win, Barrett had only eight completions for 69 yards and only four Buckeyes had receptions.

Barrett is completing better than 64 percent of his passes and did set a single-game record for touchdowns accounted for against the Falcons, but he also did not throw a touchdown pass against the Golden Hurricane for the first time in his career as a starter.

Let that sink in for a second. Barrett, who has started 19 games for Ohio State, had never gone a game without a touchdown pass until Saturday.

Maybe the most indicative of Barrett’s season so far is that following the win over Tulsa, head coach Urban Meyer did not have anything to say about his quarterback. When asked about Barrett’s sharpness, Meyer said he would have to look at the film.

This isn't something obvious and it's not hurting Ohio State. Barrett isn’t playing poorly, but he isn’t playing great either and that’s problematic for the Buckeyes. There is a standard set in recent years by the Scarlet and Gray and with the way the team plays, it needs a quarterback that is going to make the offense go consistently.

In each of Barrett’s previous two seasons as a starter in Columbus he has improved as the year progressed and there’s no reason to expect that he won’t do the same this year.

The concern is that Ohio State is yet to face a team that has really presented a challenge and Barrett was expected to coast through these opening two games. The first major obstacle comes next weekend at Oklahoma in a game that looks to be a shootout.

If OSU plans on winning that contest in Norman, the Buckeyes can’t just have any quarterback. Rather, they need their Heisman contender at his best.

Is this an overreaction to the week one Big Ten Player of the Week? Sure. The 2016 sample size is small and when the Scarlet and Gray have needed Barrett to be big in the past, he has risen to the challenge. But on a young team that needs an offensive leader, Barrett needs to be the best player on the field.

Through two games, he has not done that. Yet.

Player profiles relevant to story:
16 - Barrett, J.T.
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