At this point, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett may want to start handing out memos with pre-written quotes and talking points because it would save everyone some time.
Barrett met with the media this week, as he does two or three times every week, and was asked about the deep ball.
“I’m tired of that deep ball,” he said in what seemed to be a mix of sincerity and jest.
As tired as he may be, however, concern is still spiraling through the air.
Whenever Urban Meyer talks about the resurgent Buckeye offense, he adds in how they still need to be realistic, which means they need to remember who they are having this resurgence against. Throwing for 300 yards against UNLV, Army, and Rutgers isn’t exactly the kind of closing argument that would sway a jury.
“I’m not gonna hit them all,” Barrett said this week. “I always want to complete every pass, so I strive to do that. We shoot for 50%, which is great when it comes to stretching the ball down field. A lot of people don’t even shoot for 50%, they shoot for 40 because that’s how that works.”
The Buckeyes were hitting those numbers against Rutgers last Saturday, which is good, but it’s not enough to those who have seen the struggles since 2015.
“I am really just shocked that we keep on talking about it,” Barrett said. “How many did we complete the other day? Three or four? So, it’s like, ‘What’s up?’ I’m asking y’all.”
He didn’t say it in an angry manner or in a dismissive way, but more along the lines of incredulity with a pinch of agitation.
And when told that certain people will not buy in until the Buckeyes have success against Penn State, Barrett addressed the concerns.
“That’s why we’re going to keep working on it,” he said.
“I hear that. I was just a little confused why we keep on talking about it. We’re going to take our shots. In the past we didn’t complete it in practice. Like, in practice it was awful. So, in the game, we didn’t call it because it was awful in practice. We don’t do things that don’t work in practice in a game. That doesn’t make any sense. So we’ve gotten a lot better.
“The success is happening in practice against our DBs, which I think are some of the top defensive backs in the country. So now we’re making the plays in practice, and we’re calling it in the game. We’ll continue to call those things in the game and we’re going to miss some. But there has been success of it.”
Ohio State is currently leading the Big Ten in passing yards per game (326.0) and touchdown passes (16), but only 183 of those yards came against Oklahoma and none of the touchdowns did. What has happened since the loss to the Sooners is a good thing for the Buckeyes, but it was also expected.
Until Barrett and his receivers can prove themselves against an opponent in the national title hunt, the deep ball will continue to be a topic of conversation. Barrett understands that, but the Buckeyes are only operating on one opponent at a time.
“As far as, ‘Is it going to work against Penn State?’ I have all the confidence in the world that we’re going to make plays when it’s time for that,” he said. “But we’re not worried about Penn State, we’re talking about Maryland and focusing on Maryland. We have to make those plays against Maryland. They play man, and there are opportunities for that. So, let’s slow our roll.”