Ohio State Football: JT Barrett shines with the right pieces around him

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: J.T. Barrett /

With the right pieces around him, Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett is shining once again.

JT Barrett has silenced those who wanted him replaced as the Ohio State quarterback just a few games ago. The Buckeyes are on a five game winning streak and Barrett has played at a higher level than any quarterback in college football during that stretch.

But why is he playing so well now? It’s really quite simple. JT is really talented, and when he has the right pieces around him he shines.

Just think about the players on the Ohio State National Championship team in 2014. JT led the Buckeyes to the brink of the National Championship that year as a redshirt freshman before he was injured, and then Cardale Jones brought the trophy home.

His wide receivers that year were Devin Smith, Michael Thomas and Evan Spencer. The H-backs were Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel. The tight ends were Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett.

Barrett had Ezekiel Elliott to hand the ball off to. And Tom Herman was the offensive coordinator of the Buckeyes.

In 2015 there was a significant loss in production by the Buckeye offense which ultimately cost Ohio State the national title, but JT didn’t take the brunt of the criticism. Smith, Spencer and Heuerman had graduated and there was a quarterback situation between Barrett and Jones. Also, Herman left to take the head coaching job at the University of Houston.

However, last year the Ohio State offense looked stale at times especially during the second half of the season. The Buckeyes rarely threw the ball downfield successfully so Barrett increasingly came under fire, but unfairly so.

Quite frankly, he had a receiving corps that was a mess and there were three new offensive lineman. Receivers struggled to get open and Barrett was often scrambling to avoid the pass rush, or was sacked. And Ed Warinner was still the Ohio State offensive coordinator.

Following the season, many fans were hoping JT would opt for the NFL and let either Joe Burrow or Dwayne Haskins take over the reigns as the Ohio State quarterback. After the week two loss to Oklahoma, there was a clamour for Urban Meyer to replace Barrett with Haskins.

But JT has turned things around with 1,351 yards passing for 18 touchdowns with no interceptions during the last five games. He also has rushed for 232 yards and 4 scores.

Barrett has put up those stats while only averaging about three quarters of playing time per game in the Buckeyes’ five game winning streak. Here are the reasons why he has been so successful during that run.

First and foremost the offensive line has improved their pass protection which provides Barrett time to find the open receiver. Several wide receivers have performed well with Terry McLaurin and Binjimen Victor leading the way with 20 and 18 receptions respectively. And Johnnie Dixon is averaging over 27 yards on the 10 passes he has caught.

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The H-backs have played at a very high level and have caught 68 passes already. KJ Hill (28), Parris Campbell (27) and CJ Saunders (13) have totaled 851 receiving yards so far.

The three Ohio State tight ends, Marcus Baugh, Rashod Berry and Luke Farrell have 21 receptions between them, and Barrett now has a one-two punch in the backfield. Freshman JK Dobbins has been outstanding in the first seven games and sophomore Mike Weber is finally healthy and contributing.  

But the one thing that may have aided in Barrett’s improved play more than anything is this. Kevin Wilson is now the offensive coordinator for Ohio State, and he has figured out how to use the weapons at his disposal. And no other OC in the country is better at doing so.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that JT Barrett is playing as well as he is. He performed well as a redshirt freshman when he had the right players around him, as well as a terrific offensive coordinator.

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There has never been a question in my mind that JT would be successful if the right pieces were around him like they were during the 2014 season. That appears to be the case this season so Barrett’s star is shining bright once again.