Remember how tremendous JT Barrett was at Ohio State as a freshman in 2014? The incumbent, Braxton Miller was hurt in the Fall, and nobody knew what to expect when Barrett took over the team. He actually was terrible in a week two home loss to Virginia Tech, throwing three turnovers in a stunning 35-21 loss.
Barrett rebounded the following week with six TD passes vs Kent State and put together an impressive Heisman Trophy campaign with 34 passing TDs and 11 rushing TDs. He was 2nd to Marcus Mariota in passer rating. Barrett finished 5th in Heisman Trophy voting (ahead of Jameis Winston!).
There’s no denying Barrett was excellent, but a couple things worth noting:
- The team’s offensive coordinator was Tom Herman, who is now the coach at Texas
- The depth chart was loaded with NFL talent: Ezekiel Elliott, RB; Devin Smith, Jalin Marshall and Michael Thomas, WR; and two offensive linemen are in the NFL (Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein).
Barrett was injured against Michigan in the regular season finale and that’s when Cardale Jones stepped in, beat Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten title game, stunned #1 Alabama in the college football semifinal, and then bested Oregon to capture the Championship.
And then came 2015, when Jones “won” the starting job over Barrett, and the two both played a lot, but neither got into a rhythm. Barrett was atrocious in a home loss to Michigan State in the rain, throwing for 46 yards and rushing for 44 yards.
In 2016, Barrett regained the starting job, but … wasn’t very good? After throwing six TDs vs Bowling Green in the opener, Barrett was very up-and-down, struggling badly vs Indiana, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan before a horrendous game against Clemson in a 31-0 playoff loss.
You could argue the Big Ten has improved significantly over the last three years. And that Ohio State had a legendary 2014 offense. The 2017 version probably won’t be as good – the top three WRs from last year are gone – though running back Mike Weber is back.
Which JT Barrett will we see, the 2014 Heisman contender, or the 2016 disappointment?