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Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett ready to take more risks when looking for receivers

The redshirt senior QB might be throwing more interceptions this season but that could be a good thing.

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“In the NFL, nobody's really open if you think about it. You think about third down and playing man-to-man, nobody's really open. What we do on defense here at Ohio State with the press quarters, it's challenging every throw. So with that, you have to do your best to give your guy the opportunity to touch the football.”

- J.T. Barrett via Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com

Many times in the past few seasons with J.T. Barrett at quarterback for Ohio State, there would be plays where it seemed like Barrett had nobody to throw to. In his mind, nobody was open. If there was a defender in the vicinity, Barrett considered his receiver covered and would often throw it away or tuck it and run. Now, it seems like quarterbacks coach Ryan Day has made an excellent impact on the redshirt senior as Barrett says he has a much different mindset when looking to throw to his wideouts this season.

In the article above, Day talked about explaining that throwing to receivers with defenders is fine, as long as Barrett throws to a spot where only the receiver can get to it. It’s a phrase that’s pretty common when watching the NFL or even high level college games. So it’s very possible we might see a few more interceptions from Barrett this season, but if the trade-off is a more explosive passing attack that can help balance the running game, then by all means, fire away.

“Barrett may not possess knock-you-on-your-back arm strength or blinding speed, but his all-around athleticism has helped him produce a school-record 100 touchdowns and 6,381 passing yards in his first three seasons.”

- Luke Knox, ESPN

Continuing with the J.T. Barrett theme, the senior quarterback was also included in ESPN’s list of ‘returning stars’ in their ‘College Football Year of the Quarterback’ feature. The ‘draft darlings’ category included USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. The returning stars included Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (who the Buckeyes play this season), Washington’s Jake Browning, and of course Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett. The final category was ‘the next wave’ which had the trio of Florida State’s Deondre Francois, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, and Alabama’s Jalen Hurts.

It’s no surprise that Barrett is included with these star quarterbacks, considering as a freshman Barrett finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. He also has amassed a 26-4 record as a starter with the Buckeyes under Urban Meyer. While he’s had his ups and downs with injuries and sharing time with Cardale Jones, the three-time captain will certainly go down in school history as one of the best to ever do it in the scarlet and gray.

“We'd rather not use (Barrett) as much. That's not an indication things are going well. Sometimes you need to do it. But that's also a get-out-of-jail-free card when things aren't going as well. So right now the receivers are playing at a fairly high level. At times when we use (the quarterback run) too much, that's when things aren't clicking at other spots.”

- Urban Meyer via Bill Landis, Cleveland.com

Ever since Urban Meyer came to Columbus to become head coach of Ohio State, quarterback runs have been a staple of the Buckeyes’ offense. And for good reason, as Meyer has already won a Big Ten championship and national championship with this strategy. The numbers game when the quarterback is able to effectively run the football is advantageous in many ways, but it also has some risk involved. Braxton Miller had several injuries during his tenure at quarterback and J.T. Barrett suffered a season-ending injury in 2014, as well. In general, it’s nice to have the advantage but you don’t want your quarterback broken to pieces by the end of the season.

With Kevin Wilson coming from Indiana to become the offensive coordinator, there’s already been talk about limiting the amount of carries Barrett gets, and while we’ve heard this before in recent years, it is interesting to see Meyer actually come out and say that the quarterback running so much is not a good sign in relation to how the offense is performing. He views it as a ‘get-out-jail-free card’ which is likely true, and with that in mind it will be something worth watching this season if Barrett and the offense can not rely on his running ability to move the chains and score points like they have the past two seasons.

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