Football

The Case For – And Against – Benching J.T. Barrett

To bench, or not to bench: that is the question.

Whether ’tis wiser on the depth chart to suffer

The slings and arrows of message boards and Twitter,

Or to take a different arm against a sea of Black Knights,

And by changing end them? To bench: to play;

No more; and by a change to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand angry Tweets

That Twitter is heir to, ’tis a consummation

Devoutly to be GIF’d. To bench, to play;

To play: perchance to win: ay, there’s the rub.

– William Shakespeare’s “Barrett”


The fifth and final act of J.T. Barrett’s Ohio State career took a dark turn on Saturday night as the Ohio State offense sputtered once again in a 31-16 loss to Oklahoma. It not only eliminated most of Ohio State’s margin of error for the season, but also erased much of the goodwill built up during a promising offseason and the occasionally-encouraging Week 1 win over Indiana.

Barrett’s stats against the Sooners (19/35, 183 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) were not impressive, and looked even shabbier in comparison to Baker Mayfield’s (27/35, 386 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs). Before the game was even over, the calls for Barrett to lose the starting job were overwhelming.

Urban Meyer watches J.T. Barrett carry the ball during the loss to Oklahoma. (Dan Harker/TheOzone.net)

OSU head coach Urban Meyer was quick to shoot down the idea following the game. A reporter asked if there was, “a possibility that you would ever even consider a change. Is that something that you will look at?”

Meyer immediately said, “No. No.”

In a press conference that was otherwise filled with vague responses and promises of more detail after Meyer had reviewed the game tape, the definitiveness of his “No” stood out.

There is certainly a case than can be made that Meyer is right to stand by his senior, and that Barrett’s experience gives Ohio State the best chance to win a national championship this season. There is also a compelling case that Barrett may have hit his ceiling developmentally, and that a fresh arm could provide a spark to an offense that has been largely stagnant for the previous five games.

PLAY HIM: A look at the entirety of Barrett’s resume suggests that he deserves more time to work with first-year quarterbacks coach Ryan Day and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson to get the kinks worked out of the new system.

Barrett finished fifth in the Heisman voting his freshman year, and is already the school record holder for career pass completions, touchdown passes in a game and career, 200-yard passing games, and is poised to set the all-time school passing yardage record. Even after Saturday’s ugly loss, his record as a starting quarterback is 27-5.

BENCH HIM: A look at Barrett’s more recent resume suggests that perhaps it is time for a change. His already unimpressive 183 yards against the Sooners look even worse when you take out the 99 that came in garbage time, after OU had built a three-score lead in the fourth quarter. In what has become a familiar and frustrating pattern for Buckeye fans, he frequently seemed hesitant with the ball, perhaps slightly unsure of himself as he looked downfield. The Buckeyes’ deep passing game was once again nonexistent. This was not just one bad night. The Buckeye offense looked dreadful for a half against Indiana, put up zero points against Clemson, and put up exactly 17 points in regulation against both Michigan and Michigan State to close the 2016 regular season. At this point, the back-to-back 62-3 wins against Nebraska and Maryland in early November 2016 feel like they happened a decade ago.

Terry McLaurin can’t haul in a long pass from J.T. Barrett during the loss to Oklahoma. (Dan Harker/TheOzone.net)

PLAY HIM: Of course, a lot of the downfield passing issues also fall on the wide receivers. Parris Campbell dropped a beautifully-thrown ball that would have been a long touchdown against Indiana, and Terry McLaurin had an almost-identical drop when Barrett arced a throw just over a defender and directly into McLaurin’s arms at the goal line. And whether you can see it on TV or not, there are frequently not any open receivers for Barrett to throw to. Dwayne Haskins or Joe Burrow can’t catch their own deep passes, either – the receivers need to do their part.

BENCH HIM: One reason the receivers may not be getting open is because of how teams are defending the Barrett-led offense. Indiana head coach Tom Allen was very open about the fact that he frequently dropped eight men into coverage because felt Barrett simply would not be able to pinpoint the holes in that defense, even with time to throw. “With a quarterback like (Barrett) that’s not an accurate quarterback, that’s what you try to do,” Allen said.

PLAY HIM: Barrett’s career completion percentage is .627, tied for #2 all-time at OSU with a guy named Troy Smith, who people were generally okay with. Seems pretty accurate to me. And don’t forget that Smith had Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez to throw to.

BENCH HIM: Know who’s #1 on that list ahead of Troy and J.T.? Todd Boeckman, who lost his job to a talented, but raw freshman QB after an ugly non-conference loss. Barrett may put up shiny numbers and give OSU the best chance of winning against middling opponents, but we’ve seen what happens when he plays a great team. The offense didn’t just struggle against Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Clemson, and Oklahoma; it struggled in very similar ways each time. No downfield passing, too much indecision on throws, too many quarterback runs, and not a 30-point performance in regulation to be seen. This is who he is. And it’s not good enough to get where Ohio State wants to get this season.

OSU quarterbacks Tate Martell, Dwayne Haskins, and J.T. Barrett. (Dan Harker/TheOzone.net)

PLAY HIM: If this is who he is, who is Dwayne Haskins? Who is Joe Burrow? How will they do against Penn State? Or on the road at Iowa? Or at Michigan? The Ohio State coaching staff has seen a whole lot more of Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow than fans have, and they seem certain – at least so far – that it is Barrett who gives them the best chance to win. They’ve seen Barrett beat Michigan, including hanging 42 on them in Ann Arbor.

Terrelle Pryor replaced Boeckman during the BCS era, when a 35-3 non-conference loss really was the end of your national championship hopes. That’s no longer the case. Urban Meyer was willing to pull the starting job away from an undefeated, national championship-winning quarterback two years ago when he thought it was the surest path back to the College Football Playoff, so it’s reasonable to believe that he would pull Barrett this year if he thought it would get the Buckeyes back into the bracket.

There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer right now. Either path could lead to playoff glory or more punchless offensive performances. And at least for now, it seems like we know which path Meyer has chosen.

21 Responses

  1. Barrett has continually regressed since Herman left. What’s with all the bouncing around in the pocket? Everyone can see that he holds the ball too long before throwing an incomplete pass. He also no longer runs with abandon. He slides or steps out. I remember when Braxton Miller was the answer until he wasn’t. Then it was Barrett until he wasn’t. Then it was 12 Gauge that guided the Bucks to a NC. Urb pulled senior Chris Leak in favor of freshman Timothy Richard Tebow at UF. Its time to put a young gun in there and lean on the power run game more if necessary.

  2. For those that are referring back to 2014 and comparing JT to Jones, you are missing 1 key component, Tom Herman. Herman tailored the offense to Barrett and then when he went down, he changed it to take advantage of Jones abilities.

    Unfortunately, when Herman left, Warnier took over and you know the rest of the story. JT looked the best when Herman was drawing up and calling the plays. I believe that K. Wilson is capable, but for some reason, Meyer will not allow him the freedom to change the offense the way he needs to to fit JT.

    Also, the receivers coach is not doing us any favors. For too many games I’ve watched the receivers run down field and not even attempt to get open. It’s like they run their route and if the ball does not arrive, they just stand around waiting for JT to do something. Then when the ball is thrown their way, they wait for the ball to come to them instead of going up and fighting and high pointing the ball. If this was just a couple of the receivers in the group, I could put it on them, but this has been the case for 3 or 4 years now.

  3. Ah, the old “You guys don’t know anything, cuz, if you did you would be coaching……….” GARBAGE. That’s the cop-out from a PC nimrod who lets others do their thinking for them. Meyer says, therefore it’s GOSPEL……….BARF.

    I’d be willing to wager that MANY people posting in forums have played, and some have coached. MOST know the game of football pretty damned well………regardless of whether they’re coaches or not inside and out.

    One thing every “fan” has is eyes. Stats can lie, and often do. They often don’t tell a damned thing about how they were arrived at. But the eyes, which can be deceived at times still see events as they unfold and often expose the lies that stats tell.

    Anyone with eyes can see where the Buckeyes offensive woes lie. It starts with the man in charge. He’s busy trying to prove to the rest of the world that he’s right to hold his cards. Nobody is buying that bluff anymore…….except cling-ons. Meyers offense isn’t broken…….it’s simply been figured out and solutions being applied to opponents defenses who can at least be in the same ballpark with their talent to negate the huge advantage Meyers philosophy once had.

    The next fault is not acknowledging the issues and getting the help to correct the weaknesses. The weakness in Meyers philosophy is a consistent intermediate and deep passing game. Actually it’s not a weakness, it’s a fatal absence flaw. He brings in yes men to tell him how great his philosophy is and not a single one of them are worth a damned as developers of talent. Just yes men. So all that built up recruiting talent isn’t getting the developmental help they need.

    Clowns like Zach Smith, Day, Studrawa are jokes to a top tier program. They can’t develop a single thing, yet here they are………at Ohio State.

    MOST follow recruiting. There isn’t a thing wrong with the receivers, OR the quarterbacks OR the linemen. The problem is that there’s no one on the coaching staff to develop or enhance their incoming skills.

    Coach Mick hands the coaching staff highly refined athletes perfect to be positionally developed. The offensive staff turns them into players with JUST HS qualities. That’s because that’s where these position coaches belong………teaching HS players.

    The problem? A coach who refuses to see the issues HIS decisions of position coach hires has created. Day, Studrawa, Smith don’t belong at Ohio State. PERIOD. The results of those bad hires is that the offensive TALENT is left behind on the development curve. Other than tailback the rest of the offensive players are no better than they were in high school. When junk defenses like Indiana and Oklahoma can make fools of the Buckeye offensive line and quarterback and receivers. Players who were among the most sought out players in recruiting, something is missing and wrong.

    The Buckeye receivers are left at the altar by an undeveloped quarterback, who is left exposed by a horrible coached offensive line. A quarterback who is forced to utilize a grade school passing route tree because NO ONE has ever developed any passing skills in him.

    Go back and look at JT Barrett during his junior year in HS. His passing there is EXACTLY what it is today. The difference in HS was that he actually had an offensive line developed to play against HS talent. NOW JT Barrett has no developed skills and he’s STILL trying to quarterback behind an HS offensive line. Because no one since arriving at Ohio State has taken the time to actually develop JT’s passing ability, the blue chip receiver recruits brought in are hung out to dry by a quarterback who can’t deliver a pass worth a damned.

    The problems aren’t some secret decoder ring BS. They are obvious and most invested fans can see the. We DON’T have to be coaches to see what’s broken, nor what it would take to fix it. As a wise coach once said YOU WIN WITH PEOPLE. The RIGHT people. Meyer has surrounded himself with yes men without the ability to develop top level talent.

  4. Those who know very little about the game will always blame the QB. Meaning those people do nothing but complain no matter what.

    There are MANY problems on this team. I mentioned VT only as reference as to the growth a team makes from one weekend to the next throughout the year, and you’ll notice I never mentioned a thing about an individual. Team Sport – and that includes play calling. Has JT struggled… yes, have the receivers struggled… yes, has the Oline struggled…yes. How about the Secondary and LB’s…. Not impressive.

    This team does have talent. Many have never played extended minutes or together. Some are just under performing. I still trust JT and Urban to get things figured out. As well as the D.

    1. I trust the defensive staff to figure it out and the players to begin to excel. I have exactly NO trust or belief that the offensive staff has a clue. 3 coaches don’t belong at Ohio State. Studrawa, Day and Smith.

      Oh, they’ll “appear” vastly improved against garbage opponents like Army, UNLV and bottom of the conference opponents. When the offense has to face an actual talent lined roster, the offense will return to garbage status and the same conversations will still be taking place. The same caped defenders of nonsensical coach speak will address the world and tut tut down their noses at what bad fans us naysayers are.

      HOW DARE us NON coaches state what we believe the problems are. We should just shut up and fall in the yes man line and be satisfied with the always a bridesmaid status.

      Here’s a heads up. Just because we aren’t afraid to be critical of the Buckeye football program, DOESN’T mean we aren’t stalwart fans who bleed scarlet and gray. We sit in the stands and scream our heads off for this program, and will continue to do that, because that’s what fans do. We simply want the best for the kids. If they aren’t getting the best, we’ll scream our heads off about that too.

  5. Had to see the blah blah blah Virginia Tech blah blah was going to spew out of people. This is JT fifth year not his second game… We are very lucky to not be playing Maryland yet bc we would get beat by two tds. We need receivers to play receiver instead of guys who were really fast in high school. When we heard that Terry Mclaurin was doing good out of practice, we should have known right there we would have no one to rely on once again this year. I am happy We have Urban to fix it but I’m hating what I see so far.

  6. Why does it seem like the receivers for the opposing teams have hands about two feet long, while ours (like Parris Campbell in the first game, Terry McLaurin in the second) seem to have hands about two inches long. Barrett would look a lot better if he had someone to throw to that could snatch the ball out of the air, rather than looking like the wickets of a croquet game. Maybe Victor, or Mack? Somebody on the receiving end, please, step up!

  7. Hmmmm…. I seem to remember a certain 2014 team that started off on the road and struggled with Navy in the fist half, winning handily, and then looking Horrible against a VT team. Young people all over the place, including a Defense that didn’t come into its own until late in the season. the OLine was shaky to start but was amazing in the end, which allowed a pretty fair RB to Blossom :-). lets not forget we had some incredible receivers as well.

    They figured it out then and I trust Urban and company will figure it out this time as well. even if they lose another game and are 10-2 or 11-2 that’s not a bad season. We’ve had it pretty awesome for the last 25+ years.

    if you expect perfection every year…,…,… You’ll never be anything but disappointed.

  8. To all the people who know what changes need to be made I ask you “Why aren’t you coaching?”. I am frustrated with the Bucks just like many other fans but am also appreciative of what we have in a football program going all the way back to the days of John Cooper. How many programs have been able to sustain the type of success that is Buckeye football? Yes there are some issues with the current edition of the program, but I am willing to accept what we have as opposed to going through many of the ups and downs other “top level” football programs have experienced. Look at USC, ND, Texas and Nebraska to name a few. Historically great programs that have not been able to maintain a successful program. Sit back, enjoy and appreciate what you have. You could have Brian Kelly as your coach.

      1. You are absolutely correct. Only coaches should be allowed to comment on football. I am certainly sure you have no opinions on space travel, the economy or the war on terror. However, coach, it seems as though you are saying only coaches are allowed to disagree with you.

      2. No, I won’t sit back and keep my mouth shut and just enjoy the status quo. The talent is in the program to up the status quo but, it’s not going to change if its just left up to the man in charge. Ohio State has always been a power in my lifetime. My lifetime supporting Ohio State spans more than 50 years. One thing every coach has been keenly made aware of. Pressure from the OUTSIDE can and does effect change. Maybe not immediately, but change WILL come, or that coach will no longer be the man in charge.

        Meyers storm is just starting to form an eye. He’s been put on notice by media and more and more by the people who support the program. FIX IT, or get the hell out of the way. Before Urban Meyer, there was Jim Tressel. For those 10 years I remember only 1 of them being a basement dweller program………2004. Before Tressel, there was John Cooper. Losing to the garbage dump of the north may have been his ultimate undoing, but he became lackadaisical in running the program. It ultimately crashed around him. The same could also be said about Jim Tressel. Coach Bruce just couldn’t put together the next step beyond 9 win seasons. The cat calls from OUTSIDE the program brought his, Coopers, and Tressels career at Ohio State to and end. Mostly it was because they believed themselves beyond the voices outside the program. They were wrong!

        The same problems with the current program are preventing the next step. That step would be supplanting Alabama as the only real premier and legitimate annual contender. With the current offensive issues, that step isn’t going to be taken. Meyer, like those before him is being put on notice to get it fixed. We don’t want coach speak, we want results. Sometimes a coach is too close to the problem to actually see it, much less do anything about it. He’s now hearing the cries, the pleading, and the demands to fix it. If he doesn’t get it done he’ll be just another name in the graveyard of coaches that had it all and pissed it away.

        Nobody expects the Buckeyes to win it all every year. We should at least be expect to be in the conversation. Other than a couple “shared” conference titles (participation trophies), Meyer has 1 conference title and 1 National title. If the offensive MISERY would be addressed beyond coach speak.

        If Meyer wants to close out his career at Ohio State in the form of retiring and NOT being fired or asked to step down, he’s on notice to step it up. The more things remain the same, the louder the calls will become from those “outside” the program. If you don’t think those voices can’t effect change, you have only to look at the coaching graveyard of Ohio States past.

  9. Pretty obvious JT is the problem with the offense. Not sure if he can be fixed at this point. He is playing like he is scared to death. He wont even take contact anymore when he runs as he has started to take a dive this year which is something he had never done in the past. Watson last year threw something like 18 INTs but he never stopped slinging the ball with confidence all the way to the title. Mayfield could’ve thrown three picks last Saturday and also would’ve kept slinging the ball with confidence. JT wont even throw the ball until its too late. He looks dazed and confused. He had some big running lanes Saturday but he wouldn’t tuck the ball and run like he was hell bent on staying in the pocket and proving he can throw the ball. For the NFL scouts?????? Pryor in 2010 seemed to do the same thing for the same reason. Its hard to doubt Urban but he has three weeks ahead which should be scrimmage games for us. Might be the time to make the change. If he sits JT down, its over for good. His confidence what little he seems to still have will be shot for good. I just can’t see the passing game improving with JT at this point. No passing game means no game in Indy on December 2nd plain and simple.

  10. It would be typical of Meyer’s inability to realize he’s not playing favourites to keep Barrett for the year. Cardale Jones was benched because he didn’t look good enough winning. Meyer’s golden boy won’t be benched after losing. At some point it just looks like a bunch of excuses. He’s going to do what he’s going to do and whatever he says is just an excuse for doing it. There’s no real logic there beyond who Meyer likes and who he doesn’t. It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with winning.

    The simple fact is, Barrett isn’t going to win a nationalChampionship.Looking back at these four years, it’s going to be about Cardale Jones and Zeke Elliot winning a National Championship, despite Meyer’s coaching. Barrett will be all over the record book in every aspect but one. The big one. He’s just not big time material. The funny thing is Jones was, but he got benched. Sometimes how you perform against the big boys defines you more than how many cupcakes you obliterate. Meyer and Barrett are good enough to obliterate cupcakes. As was John Cooper. But Meyers big run in the playoffs was based on having the best running back in the country, and having to change to a pro-style set because Cardale Jones was a better drop back quarterback than Barrett. The injury to Barrett enabled us to win the NC more than anyone wants to admit. Yet it is absolutely certain, Meyer would have played Barret had he not been hurt. And based on recent performance, they would have lost.

  11. Great article on both sides, Tom. Unfortunately the problems run far deeper than Barrett who like all QBs is getting the brunt. The offensive line’s play has been offensive, especially the right side, but even Jamarco Jones had a holding penalty in this one and it clearly was out of frustration. The defensive line played like champions but none of the back seven played like they had ever seen a pass play in their lives. Oklahoma punted exactly ONCE, the rest of their drives ending in points, turnovers on downs, missed FGs, or turnovers. The best QBs in college football history would be hard-pressed to win when the opponent does that.

  12. If a 5th year Sr. is being debated to be benched or not benched, then it’s a no brainer, bench him. The vast majority of CFB qb’s don’t even play for 2 seasons. The only thing sticking with JTB does is to solidify OSU losing at least another 2 games, not playing for the B1G title and not playing after December 31. Enough said. As I was proven very wrong on Saturday night, I could be very wrong here, but that would then mean good things for OSU.

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