Clemson safety Jadar Johnson had some words about Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett at late morning media availability that sure are making their way around the internet.
As though they were delivered with the same bravado as Oklahoma freshman backup quarterback Austin Kendall, who infamously predicted starter Baker Mayfield would pick apart a “basic” Ohio State defense, many are quickly pointing to Johnson’s “He’s not one of the best quarterbacks we’ve played this year,” as though the senior was trying to provoke Ohio State.
Looking at the actual context, as well as some of the ups and downs Barrett’s experienced over the course of the last two seasons as a passer, paints a bit of a different picture.
VIDEO: Clemson's Jadar Johnson's evaluation of Buckeye QB J.T. Barrett. pic.twitter.com/CordqlWKjS— Jerod Smalley (@JerodNBC4) December 27, 2016
“I’m not taking anything away from him, I don’t think he’s a bad player, he’s definitely a good player, but you know, he just doesn’t stand out as one of the best quarterbacks we’ve played this year,” Johnson said subdued and not in a provocative manner.
Clemson had an epic duel with eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, one of the few players capable of hurting opposing defenses with his legs even more than Barrett. And while Barrett threw fewer interceptions had a slightly higher completion percentage on the season than Jackson, Jackson’s arm strength and effectiveness on the deep ball surpassed his counterpart in scarlet and gray this past season.
“Actually, I feel like, he’s a great quarterback on his legs. I don’t feel real strong about his arms; I don’t think he’s one of the best passers. So I feel like if we can limit him on his legs, limit him in the running game, I feel like we’ll have a pretty good chance of doing good against this offense, because you know they’re a run first offense,” Johnson added.
Again, these are hardly fighting words, and to be honest, a pretty accurate assessment of the 2016 edition of J.T. Barrett. The Tigers also go against two time Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson everyday in practice.
Of course click-chasing and Facebook misdirection aside, the only thing that really matters is how the folks in the same locker room as Barrett perceive the comments.
A team like Ohio State certainly doesn’t need any extra motivation -- it’s the College Football Playoff semifinal against a team who beat the Buckeyes just two years ago. But that doesn’t mean Barrett’s and peers won’t try to push all the extra buttons they can in an effort to get one of Barrett’s best games of the season out of him.