The question has been asked as to whether Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is good enough to lead Ohio State to a national championship. I personally think the question is absurd considering there is no 2014 national title without the services of Barrett. However, a national championship for Ohio State is anything but a certainty, yet Ohio State fans can bank on Barrett being a part of the Heisman trophy conversation.
Barrett is currently listed as the second favorite at 6-1 odds and only trails Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield at 11-2 odds, according to Bovada Sportsbook. We all know Vegas isn’t stupid. Should Barrett find himself in New York as a Heisman finalist, I’d say Ohio State’s playoff chances and championship aspirations will be looking fairly solid.
It’s fair game to doubt Barrett, especially with how anemic the offense was in the latter portion of the 2016 season. Don’t get me wrong, Barrett was a no-show along with the rest of the offense in the embarrassment that was Ohio State’s CFP semifinal against eventual national champion Clemson. But that was Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s mess and he wasted little time in attempting to get it resolved with the hiring of former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson as offensive coordinator.
Normally, it would be difficult to expect improvement from a quarterback who holds just about every passing record at Ohio State, but being on the wrong end of a 31-0 shutout in the biggest game of the season will do that.
If there is any silver lining to the Clemson debacle, it’s that Ohio State has responded well to a Clemson beating before. It was only three years ago when the Tigers and former receiver Sammy Watkins torched Ohio State’s defense and made the secondary look anything but DBU. Meyer vowed that he would get the defense back on track just like he promised to fix the offense this time around. Ohio State rebounded from consecutive losses in the Big Ten title game and Orange Bowl in 2013 to winning the national championship in 2014.
Not a bad turnaround.
Getting back to Barrett, while I fully expect the soon-to-be fifth-year senior to have a championship-caliber final season in Columbus, both from an individual and team perspective, Barrett is not going to look like a future NFL quarterback out there because that’s not what he is. Sure, there is a place for Barrett in the NFL, but most likely not at quarterback. How many of Meyer’s former quarterbacks were stud passers? Other than current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, can you even name another one? And Smith is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s greatest “game managers” Chris Leak or Tim Tebow? Please.
It’s Meyer’s system, not the quarterback that drives the bus, but Meyer needs the right quarterback and the right coordinator for the necessary results and Ohio State now possesses both with Wilson now aboard.
Former Heisman winner Sam Bradford landed college football’s most coveted award at Oklahoma in 2008, where it was Wilson in control of that powerhouse Sooner offense. The Ohio State offense was never the same after former offensive coordinator and current Texas head coach Tom Herman left for Houston, but the addition of Wilson is the next best thing to getting Herman back.
Meyer doesn’t recruit quarterbacks that can’t get the job done, especially after almost three seasons. He recruits guys that can win football games in his system and the stats come as a byproduct of that. Is Meyer loyal to his players? Of course he is, but I can guarantee you that he isn’t starting Barrett for almost four years if he doesn’t think he can win a national championship.
The two Heisman frontrunners, Mayfield and Barrett according to Bovada, square off in a rematch in the Horseshoe in September. Even with a solid two months left in the season at the game’s conclusion, it is a matchup that will not only have playoff implications, but it could ultimately decide the Heisman.
With Barrett returning for one final season, the current state of the quarterback position at Ohio State is status quo. Whether it’s a conference title, national championship or Heisman Trophy, they’re all within reach with Barrett under center.
E-mail Mark at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @msilverman25.
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