Ohio State fans have heard all spring and summer long about the improvements that Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett has made. Many refuse to believe that such a thing can happen and are worried that they will once again be subjected to quarterback play that only results in an All-Big Ten quarterback and a Silver Football trophy.
Others, however, are rightly concerned that it has been a very long time since Barrett lit up one of the nation’s best defenses through the air. The specter of 337 yards passing over Ohio State’s final three games last season will loom until it has been exorcised by Barrett himself.
The OSU coaches and players are adamant that Barrett has improved in every facet. Quarterbacks coach Ryan Day has seen improvement in many different forms.
“Today I’m proud of, first off, the command he’s had of the offense and the quick decision-making he’s making, from practice to practice,” Day said. “The ball is coming out of his hand quickly, he’s confident in what he’s doing, his eyes are right, and so the ball is coming out on time right now and you can tell that he’s got a rhythm about him when he’s playing the position. He’s taken a lot of ownership, that’s a big push for us this year is ownership, so he’s been doing some work with the other skill guys in the film room by himself with those guys. So yeah, I think the communication and the relationship between the skill guys and J.T. has been great.”
This is Barrett’s fifth summer camp, but only the second where he has been the established starter. Still, he’s seen it all, which has allowed him to make the strides that Day has designed for him. His experience makes the teaching easier, which allows more lessons to be given.
“He’s been there before,” Day said. “He knows what’s real and what isn’t. When you put something up on the board he knows, he can visualize it, he’s been there. When you take a rep on the field in practice, I talk to those guys all the time, the higher level you go as a quarterback you have to play with an imagination. Every time you take a snap it’s like being in The Horseshoe playing against Oklahoma on a Saturday night. It’s like being in the opening game against Indiana in the opening game on a Thursday night. It’s not just another rep out on Coffey fields. He can do that because he’s been there.”
J.T. Barrett is arguably the most-experienced player in the Big Ten. Last year he was named the best player in the Big Ten.
It wasn’t good enough, though. The Buckeyes will need him to be better, which everyone inside the program says he is. It will take some convincing to get every Ohio State fan to buy in to what OSU is selling, however.
For those non-believers, another Silver Football just isn’t going to cut it. It will take J.T. Barrett hosting a team trophy to turn the tide. Only then will they admit that maybe he isn’t so bad after all.