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J.T. Barrett likely ran the ball in more short-yardage situations than any other quarterback in the country

And he was incredibly successful on those runs, too

Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ohio State was one of the best teams in the country at converting short-yardage situations. They ranked 12th in power success rate, getting a first down on 80% of third or fourth down with two or fewer yards to go.

The Buckeyes’ reliance on J.T. shouldering the load in those short-yardage situations was most apparent in the Big Ten Championship on a crucial fourth-and-one, where all 22 players on the field knew exactly what the play would be:

The spot was good, J.T. still got the first down.

On a recent Buckeye Talk podcast, the team discussed how important J.T. Barrett was on third-and-short and how the Buckeyes used him, like Meyer did with Tebow, almost as the offense’s fullback.

So I took a look at just how effective and reliant the offense has been on J.T. Barrett running in short-yardage situations. While the offense as a whole may convert 80% of short-yardage situations, how effective is J.T. specifically, and how does that compare with quarterbacks in other offenses?

I pulled the top-100 players with the most rushing attempts this season, 15 of whom were quarterbacks. The top four QBs, unsurprisingly, were from triple-option teams, and were removed from this list (I kept Tulane’s Jonathan Banks in because their system is a little different and he was just 13th on the list).

I filtered down to just these 11 quarterbacks because: A) I assumed they’d be most likely to get the carry in short-yardage situations if they’re also a frequent runner anyway, and B) The data isn’t set up to easily allow me to pull all QB rushing info.

For those 11 quarterbacks, I looked at how many third-and-3 or less rushing attempts plus how many 4th down attempts the team had overall, then looked at what percentage of those short-yardage attempts went to the quarterback, and how effective they were in those situations.

J.T. had the 6th-most rushing attempts of non-triple option quarterbacks, with 149. Lamar Jackson, unsurprisingly, had the most with 208 attempts. These two quarterbacks were the short-yardage stars:

Quarterback runs in short-yardage situations

Team Quarterback Total short-yardage attempts QB attempts Carries % 1st Downs % 1st Downs
Team Quarterback Total short-yardage attempts QB attempts Carries % 1st Downs % 1st Downs
Louisville Lamar Jackson 47 22 46.80% 16 72.70%
Ohio State J.T. Barrett 61 27 44.30% 21 77.80%
Miss St Nick Fitzgerald 57 25 43.90% 22 88.00%
Utah Tyler Huntley 55 24 43.60% 17 70.80%
Clemson Kelly Bryant 57 23 40.40% 12 52.20%
Duke Daniel Jones 52 16 30.80% 11 68.80%
Ga South Shai Werts 57 17 29.80% 7 41.20%
Syracuse Eric Dungey 61 17 27.90% 13 76.50%
Tulane Jonathan Banks 51 12 23.50% 6 50.00%
UNLV Armani Rogers 50 9 18.00% 6 66.70%
S Florida Quinton Flowers 61 7 11.50% 2 28.60%

As you can see in the table above (which is sorted by QB percentage of short-yardage carries), J.T. had more short-yardage attempts than (likely) any other quarterback in the country, with 27 out of the team’s 61. He also had the second-highest percentage of his team’s short-yardage runs, behind only Lamar Jackson (44.3% to Jackson’s 46.8%).

Barrett was also incredibly effective, despite opposing defenses almost always knowing what was coming. He converted 77.8% of short-yardage attempts, which was again second-best behind Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald who converted an incredible 22 of his 25 attempts.

Barrett was also five-for-five on 4th down attempts, averaging 2.2 yards with a long run of 4 yards.

The Ohio State offense overall was elite in short-yardage situations, too. J.K. Dobbins had 26.2% of third- or fourth-and-short attempts, getting the first down on 81.3% of his attempts. Have to thank the offensive line there.

But Dobbins’ success in those short-yardage situations also gives some evidence that next year’s offense may not necessarily have to just rely on quarterback runs, since Dobbins already had 16 attempts (converting 13 of them) this season.