Is Loyalty to J.T. Barrett a Problem for Urban Meyer?

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback J.T. Barrett
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback J.T. Barrett /

Is loyalty becoming a problem for Urban Meyer?

One characteristic I’ve always admired in Urban Meyer is that his competitiveness allows him to make necessary adjustments. He is willing to sacrifice ego to make the Ohio State football program better.

In 2013, after suffering through a season of unmet expectations on defense, he shows Everett Withers the door and hires Chris Ash and Larry Johnson to make the changes.

After getting embarrassed 31-0 by Clemson, Meyer vowed to the press, “That’s not going to happen again.”

Ed Warinner and Tim Beck were let go and he hires Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day to resurrect an offense that lost its way after the 2014 season.

Success of the program and culture comes before any one person, at least that is how it appears.

Meyer has hitched his wagon to J.T. Barrett and seems unwilling to admit, though this is difficult to truly assess from outside the program, that Barrett’s play is not exceeding his leadership capabilities.

It is not enough to be the locker room and practice guy if it does not translate to winning the big games anymore.

Granted, there is plenty of blame to go around, most notably Kevin Wilson and Greg Studrawa.

Wilson’s failure to utilize J.K. Dobbins inside the red zone on the second drive of the second half is perhaps the greatest blunder that I have seen an Ohio State coach make.  This is the Buckeyes’ best weapon who just tore off 37 yards on three plays to get the offense in position to seize momentum in a game they had no business winning until that point.

Then Meyer elects to go for a field goal instead of touchdown.  If there was ever a sign that this offense is lost, it is Urban Meyer kicking a field goal over going for it on fourth down from the five-yard line.

The frustrating part of the Oklahoma game is watching Baker Mayfield take a shot downfield on fourth and three hoping his guy makes a play.  It resulted in a pass interference.  He trusted his playmaker.

I am not seeing the same faith from Barrett.

On Ohio State’s ensuing drive, facing a third and 18 from Oklahoma’s 49, Barrett attempts an underneath pass to Campbell that had zero chance of converting.

The next possession, the offense had a third and goal from Oklahoma’s 12-yard line, Barrett hits Campbell in traffic at the six.  The offense needs 12 yards for a touchdown.  Is there not a play designed to throw into the end zone or at least around the one-yard line to make a play for a touchdown?

What is concerning is the issues will be concealed over the next five weeks as the team feasts on chumps, but the underlying issues will still be there come October 28.  The team will be 6-1 and likely ranked between No. 5 and No. 7, depending the outcome of a few games.

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As difficult as it is to say this as a fan of Barrett, the team has reached its ceiling with him.  His play has not progressed and a reasonable argument can be made that he has regressed considerably. Contrast that with Mayfield who is progressing.

He was scrambling for his life and able to extend plays with his elusiveness and accuracy.  He took the painful lessons of 2016 and now appears poised to make his second run at the Heisman and College Football Playoff.

Buckeye Nation is left scratching their heads wondering why a fourth-year starter can’t get this team going.

Urban Meyer said there will be no change.  He gets paid to make these decisions, but I am wondering if he is staying loyal based on Barrett’s potential, rather than actual play. Because big game after big game, I don’t see how Barrett’s elevating the play of the team.

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If this continues, it will be the second time in three seasons that a veteran squad has failed to meet expectations.