COLUMBUS, Ohio — J.T. Barrett’s accuracy is not a problem.
Every quarterback has some weakness, make no mistake about that. Now one game into his fourth season, Ohio State’s senior leader has had his flaws dissected, his tendencies established and criticism heaped on him despite all the victories, awards and record books with his name scrawled over them.
Tom Allen thought he had it figured out when he made his game plan for Indiana, dropped extra defenders into coverage and then publicly suggested his reasoning was Barrett wasn’t going to be precise enough to hurt his team.
How did that work out for the Hoosiers again?
Maybe Barrett couldn’t pick locks by throwing a football through the keyhole. Somehow he found the right vicinity enough times to complete 20 of his 35 passes for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns, numbers that could have been even better if not for a handful of key drops. His yardage totals might have been inflated by long catch-and-runs, but somebody had to hit Parris Campbell in stride on his crossing route to get him in space to unleash his speed. Barrett also again finished a game without an interception, an impressive feat for all that supposed wildness with his arm.
If it seems crazy that the Buckeyes once again have to defend somebody on the brink of becoming the most productive passer in Big Ten history.
“Yeah, he’s a very accurate passer,” coach Urban Meyer said. “I made this comment: The accuracy of a quarterback has to do with the timing and relationship he has with the receivers. If he’s expecting a receiver to come back and the receiver goes there, it may look like the quarterback’s fault. That’s what happened the last couple [of games].
“We had some accuracy issues with J.T., but also with the receivers. It’s much better now.”
The Buckeyes obviously are a little biased when it comes to their three-time captain, and there’s value in an outside scouting report such as the one Allen provided with his setup last week in the opener.
The Hoosiers wouldn’t have committed to that plan without fully believing it was the best way to stop Barrett. For a while, it worked during an uneven first half for the Buckeyes.
“With a quarterback like that who’s not an accurate quarterback, that’s what you try to do,” Allen said after the game. “ … Even the ones he got, they caught them underneath and then outran us. It wasn’t like they just ran down the field on us.
“It’s a chess match.”
Eventually superior talent provided the checkmate for the Buckeyes. And it was Barrett leading that charge as he settled into his role once again pulling the levers of the power-spread attack.
He is at his best when he’s living up to the “distributor” label Meyer bestowed on Barrett when he burst on the scene unexpectedly as a freshman in 2014.
To be fair, generally that role in Ohio State’s system doesn’t require Peyton Manning-like precision. And Barrett often has joked about not having the arm strength of Cardale Jones, which used to be the go-to knock on the veteran and a reason the Buckeyes haven’t stretched the field the ways they want to over the last couple of seasons.
Barrett is a conservative passer, although he’s been working on trusting his receivers and blockers more to dial up the aggression. That approach, though, often comes with the benefit of avoiding costly mistakes and critical interceptions that could have changed games, such as the one at Indiana, when the early momentum was against Ohio State.
There isn’t a rocket launcher attached to Barrett’s right shoulder. But what more could he have done on that perfectly delivered deep shot in the third quarter to Campbell that hit him squarely in the hands?
And if a national accuracy competition to determine arm talent existed, odds are Barrett wouldn’t be the winner. But there’s plenty to be said for knowing where the ball needs to go, picking the right spots and putting speedy skill players in position to do what they do best.
So, sure, Barrett isn’t perfect. But the reason everybody already knows that is because his start at Indiana was the 31st of his career.
Maybe accuracy is a problem. But odds are Barrett wouldn’t have just claimed win No. 27 if it were.
The post Ohio State is still in good hands with arm — and accuracy — of J.T. Barrett appeared first on Land of 10.
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