Ohio State has its quarterback – and it made the right choice.
After seven weeks of musical quarterback chairs, Urban Meyer named J.T. Barrett the starter heading into a road game against Rutgers last week. The result? A 49-7 win in which Barrett threw for 200+ yards, rushed for 100+ yards and had five touchdowns (three pass, two rush).
“I don’t know anybody that watched them play against Rutgers with J.T. in there that doesn’t think that whatever their chances were at repeating national championships, their chance just got significantly better – and I would put myself in that group,” Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They started to make the turn a couple weeks ago with Cardale. I think they totally made the turn this past week with J.T.”
Barrett had served as a red-zone specialist in the weeks leading up to the Rutgers game and was remarkably efficient in that role. In fact, in his last three games, Barrett is 20-of-26 for 279 yards and five touchdowns and has run for 265 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ohio State scored a season-high 49 points in two of those three games.
Why exactly is Barrett a better fit than Jones?
“Technically, he’s a better fit because when you have to defend Ohio State with J.T. in the game, you have to defend the quarterback run game,” DiNardo explained. “When Cardale’s in the game, you don’t have to defend the quarterback run game. You just have to defend the tailback run game, which threatens inside the tackles. The quarterback run game threatens outside the tackles, which makes the inside-the-tackle run game with Elliott much better.”
Of course, that’s just the schematic advantage that Barrett provides. There’s also the intangibles to consider.
“From a morale standpoint, this is a sophomore captain,” DiNardo said. “To be voted as a captain as a sophomore at an elite program in the country, there has to be something special about that person’s leadership, his personality, his (ability) to be a teammate. As I study the coaching tape, in the games that both quarterbacks play – unless it’s just because this is what I think I want to see – it seems to me in the games where they both play, the minute J.T. came in the game, the offensive line blocked better, the whole team looked like it was in sync. So it’s not only what J.T. brings as a player; it’s the energy that surrounds him once he enters the game.”
No. 1 Ohio State (8-0), which has a bye this week, hosts Minnesota (4-3) on Nov. 7 and plays at Illinois (4-3) on Nov. 14 before returning home for a monumental clash against No. 6 Michigan State (8-0) on Nov. 21.