J.T. Barrett gives Buckeyes best chance at repeating title
With a solid performance on Saturday night, quarterback J.T. Barrett (+4.6) continued to strengthen his grip on the Ohio State quarterback job, proving that he gives them the best chance of repeating as national champions. He’s graded positively in each of the past four games, while continuing to make plays on the ground. He’s clearly the better option over Cardale Jones for the Buckeyes, but how does he compare to his impressive season in 2014?
As the starter for most of the year before getting injured, Barrett was prolific on the ground. Rushing for 1,100 yards and forcing 39 missed tackles as he did. He was second on the team in missed tackles forced to Ezekiel Elliott who forced 41 missed tackles, but did so on 125 more carries. What made Barrett so dangerous was that he was a danger to create a big play from anywhere. He scored three touchdowns, forced 12 missed tackles and rushed for 324 yards on quarterback scrambles, but had a long run of 10 yards or more off every point of attack on designed runs, with the exception of off right tackle.
This season he has seen much less of the field, but has already rushed for 403 yards, with eight touchdowns and nine missed tackles forced. Once again he’s doing it in a few different ways, and while he is dangerous as a scrambler, his longest run of the year so far went for 40 yards off left end. Most important is how he meshes with running back Ezekiel Elliott, with the two forming a formidable duo in the backfield. That’s partly to do with how good Elliot is as a blocker too, with the star running back leading the way on most of those wide runs.
As a passer in 2014, he was solid if unspectacular. His raw numbers, 34 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions, jump out, but he was also buoyed by having a wide receiver like Devin Smith, who was able to locate the deep ball better than any wide receiver in the nation last year. That definitely helped with the deep passing game, with Barrett throwing nine touchdowns to four interceptions on passes of 20 yards or more downfield.
Since takings the reigns again this year, Barrett has been fairly similar as a passer. Despite not having the same standout deep threat that he had in Smith, he has still been efficient on those deep throws, with four touchdowns and two interceptions so far. So with Barrett performing at a similar level as last year, the Buckeyes are once again in perfect position to win it all.