Barrett Wraps Final Spring With Laser Focus

By Maria DiTurno, April 20th, 2017

Ohio State’s Spring Game, staged Saturday at the Horseshoe, featured lots of offensive firepower and brought much-needed hope for a Buckeyes teams that ended the 2016 season with a whimper.

With so many new recruits and returning players, Urban Meyer’s football team has a lot to look forward to this season. One of those key returning players, of course, is veteran quarterback J.T. Barrett.

Barrett wrapped up his final spring session in impressive fashion even though his Gray team was nipped in a 38-31 loss to the Scarlet and he didn’t participate after halftime.

He finished with 8 of 12 completions for a total of 71 yards. During his time on the field, he had one touchdown and one interception throughout the game.

With the 15th and final spring practice in the books, Barrett was asked how the deep ball had progressed in recent weeks.

“It went very well,” he said. “Before we were just shooting them. And we weren’t necessarily making them at first (this spring), but then Coach (Zach) Smith and Coach (Ryan) Day have really been finding landmarks for those throws to the field and to the boundary so the receivers understand where it’s going to hit at.

“And also it’s about those guys running hard downfield and beating their guy. Toward the end, I felt we did a really good job of completing the ball.”

Fortunately, the team is improving with the leadership of Barrett, who feels he has much to prove as he enters his final season with the Buckeyes.

Currently, Barrett holds multiple single-season records. They include the following: 45 touchdowns accounted for, 35 passing touchdowns, 3,772 total yards, and a 169.8 passing efficiency.

Even with all of those marks, Barrett has the potential to break multiple records during the upcoming school season – both single-season and career records.

First, with coordinator Kevin Wilson now at the controls board of the offseason, many believe Barrett could approach single-season records for passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, passing touchdowns and 300-yard passing games.

He was third overall in passing yards with 2,835 yards in 2014 and threw the ball 314 times that year, making him a major contender in the passing yards and pass attempts categories.

Barrett also has a shot of breaking a few more career records. Currently, the record for pass completions is 498, but if Barrett matches his 2014 season total of 203, he could take over this record.

With 69 career touchdown passes, Barrett already has shattered the current record of 57 set by Bobby Hoying in the 1990s. With 8,846 career yards of total offense, Barrett likely will hop over former QBs Art Schlichter (8,850) and Braxton Miller (8,950) from third place on the all-time list to first during his first game this season.

Of his offseason progression, Barrett said, “I think this is probably the best spring I’ve had as far as accuracy and getting our offense into the best plays. With that, I have to make sure I keep enhancing that, and, like I said, just paying attention to the little details on pass plays, especially in the red zone – being able to get on the same page with the guys like Johnnie (Dixon), Parris (Campbell), Bin Victor and also the tight ends. We’re going to take it to the summer and get really good at that.”

Hopefully, Barrett can show implement these improvements when game day is here. Playing for yet another offensive coordinator and QB coach – going from Tom Herman to Ed Warinner/Tim Beck to Wilson/Day – Barrett has had some continuity issues.

Part of his troubles last year, though, had to do with pass protection breakdowns and inexperienced wide receivers. He’s seeing signs of improvement in each area, especially the latter.

Johnnie Dixon (pictured) is among the wideouts Barrett believes are ready to emerge.

“Our receivers, just great dudes,” said the team captain. “We always have good dudes in the room but they continue to work hard. And we’re to the point where we have older guys in that room now, just understanding what we’re trying to do offensively.

“I think a lot of times receivers are at the point where they’re like, ‘I have my route, I see the coverage,’ and that’s it. Now we’re really understanding what we’re trying to do on certain plays, who’s going to get open and be able to help those guys. They’re helping each other and not just waiting for me to get them the ball.”

Barrett also had positive points to make about the tight ends on the team.

“Something that has been really good for us with Coach Wilson coming in and Coach Day is being able to utilize the tight end,” he said. “Tight end is a very crucial position in the offense because, when you think about it, if you’re bad at tight end it hurts you in the run game and the pass game. But having a really good tight end helps you because you can have them in isolations when they plan and then have them in the run game, too, be able to ram it in there on the D-end.”

This can be Barrett’s year. The season is lining up to be an exciting one for Buckeye fans and the players. Still, in the months leading up to the opening game, he knows from previous experience that success isn’t guaranteed.

Going into summer training, he said the Buckeyes need to keep striving to get better with the opener at Indiana looming.

“Now is the time when we get to summer training, so we work on speed work, but when it comes to the passing game this is the time when you polish up those little details,” he said.

“I remember me and Noah (Brown) last year, we worked on back-shoulder fades all the time, and then it came up in the game several times, whether it be Oklahoma or against Wisconsin in overtime. So that’s the things you work on, things like red-zone timing.”