Ohio State’s passing game isn’t as good as you think

Ohio State is choosing between two star QBs, but neither graded particularly well as a passer last season, writes Gordon McGuinness.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

Ohio State’s passing game isn’t as good as you think

Even with Braxton Miller converting to wid9e receiver, the Ohio State Buckeyes are perceived to have an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position, with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones battling it out for the starting job. And there’s no arguing that both players were very effective last season.

But what might surprise fans is just how reliant the Buckeyes were on their running game last season. In fact, both Barrett and Jones graded negatively as passers in 2014. Barrett had some impressive throws downfield, but this was canceled out by some poor decision-making, particularly on shorter passes. He also struggled under pressure — his completion percentage dropped from 69.8 percent without pressure to 44.1 percent under pressure.

Jones was a slightly better passer than Barrett, but he too saw his completion percentage drop from 63.5 percent without pressure to 55.2 percent under pressure. It’s also worth pointing out that they have lost their top downfield threat in Devin Smith, who lead the nation with 754 yards on passes 20 yards or more downfield in 2014.

Both QBs were very effective on the ground, however, with Barrett having a higher yards per carry average and more breakaway runs but Jones edging him in terms of his elusive rating.

Right now it’s difficult to pick a clear-cut starter between the two. Regardless of who starts at quarterback the Buckeyes figure to have a dominant ground game, but the passing game may not be quite as impressive as you’ve been led to believe.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

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