The Ohio State Buckeyes are entering unfamiliar territory in 2018. For the first time in four years, the man under center will not be a kid from Wichita Falls, Texas donning the number 16.
J.T. Barrett has been OSU’s starting quarterback since 2014, helping lead the Scarlet and Gray to a National Championship and a pair of Big Ten Championships. He is one of the most decorated signal callers in both school and conference history.
Barrett is the leader in nearly every category for an Ohio State QB. He holds the record for most career passing yards with 9,434. He holds both the school and conference record for passing touchdowns, beating out Drew Brees with 104. He is also both first and second on the list for most touchdowns thrown in a season by a Buckeye, with 35 in 2017 and 34 in 2014.
Barrett was good with his feet as well, rushing for over 3,200 yards and an additional 43 touchdowns on the ground. In fact, one of his most memorable moments came on a run, a controversial 4th down conversion in a game against Michigan that the Buckeyes went on to win.
However, despite all the wins and the accolades, Ohio State may very well be better off without Barrett.
We saw a glimpse of what the Buckeyes could be without Barrett in their playoff run in 2014. In the last game of the season, Barrett went down with a broken leg, missing the Big Ten Championship Game and subsequent playoff run. Ohio State went on to win the National Title with Cardale Jones as their starting QB.
The biggest problem that plagued Barrett at times was inconsistency. In times where he did not have his accuracy, he relied too heavily on his running game. In his last two seasons, it seemed as though he was almost totally incapable of hitting the deep ball.
That was where Jones thrived. Jones’ cannon of an arm combined with the impeccable hands of Devin Smith and Michael Thomas made for a passing game that gave Ohio State the best offense in the country, taking down Alabama and Oregon to win it all. Combined with an unstoppable running game provided by Ezekiel Elliot, the Buckeyes ran their most efficient offense of the last decade.
OSU could see something very similar this season, as projected starter Dwayne Haskins has drawn many comparisons to Jones. While Jones’ next season was not as successful, as inaccuracy began to plague him as well, Haskins is set up for success.
Ohio State is impeccably deep at wide receiver, with a plethora of wideouts both young and experienced that will all see minutes. They also feature a two-headed monster at running back, with both J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber returning.
The Buckeyes are at their best when they run a balanced offense. At times with Barrett, they got too one dimensional and utilized him only for his feet, taking the passing game out all together and not utilizing Elliot to his fullest abilities. With Haskins more of a pocket passer, the Ohio State offense will be able to achieve that balance, and give opposing offenses fits in 2018.
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