When a team loses its best player, not many expect the days following to be very positive.
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer said that was not the case following the news that senior quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the entirety of the 2014 season after re-injuring his shoulder Monday.
“It would be hard to say it wasn’t — maybe the best practice we’ve had since our staff has come to Ohio State,” Meyer said Wednesday. “High energy, especially for practice 20. Really impressed.”
On Saturday, Meyer announced redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett had earned a slight edge on redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones for the backup quarterback position. With Miller out for the year, Barrett will likely be thrust into the starting role, something in which Meyer said he is confident.
“J.T. had about 300 competitive throws this fall, where when (former OSU quarterback) Kenny Guiton went into the game a couple years ago, I think he had six,” Meyer said. “He (Barrett) is a meticulous guy.”
Meyer was not shy about comparing Barrett to Guiton, going as far as calling Barrett “Guiton-ish.”
Senior cornerback Doran Grant also said he sees similarities between Barrett and Guiton.
“J.T. does what KG does. He has had a lot of competitive reps this fall and has been looking pretty good,” Grant said. “They call him ‘The Distributor’ — that’s a good name for him because he is doing what he has to do.”
Meyer said he also believes that Barrett’s ability to spread the ball around to the rest of the offense is one of his best skills.
“Some of the best quarterbacks are great distributors,” Meyer said. “I thought Kenny Guiton was one of the best I have been around as far as getting the ball out rather quickly and distributing to playmakers…my initial evaluation of J.T. is that he is very good at that.”
Grant said he has been impressed with not only Barrett’s play but also his leadership on the team.
“I don’t think a lot of guys know this, but he (Barrett) was a part of the leadership committee as a true freshman,” Grant said. “He was the third or fourth quarterback on the depth chart (last season)…he just has those leadership qualities, and that has shown on the field.”
Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman echoed Grant’s comments on Barrett and said the young quarterback has other positive qualities to bring to the table as well.
“He is a great leader. He is super smart, he’s a hard worker and I think that was the case before this happened,” Heuerman said. “He handles his business and does everything right, and we have full confidence in him and full trust.
“We’re behind him 100 percent.”
Although the discussion was almost solely focused on Barrett and Miller, Meyer said he will still consider playing both Barrett and Jones week one against Navy.
Meyer said both Barrett and Jones have positive qualities to their game.
“J.T. has a pretty good release, and he has a good skill level. Cardale has got just a cannon,” Meyer said.
Despite the confidence in Barrett, the loss of Miller still was not easy to take at first, Heuerman said.
“I was with him when his shoulder was out of place, and I had never seen him like that,” Heuerman said. “He was in pain. So we kind of knew right away that it wasn’t going to be good.”
Heuerman said that although Miller is lost for the year, he is confident that the Buckeyes will be fine with Barrett when surrounded by playmakers.
“We got a lot of playmakers, and we are going to have to rely on them a lot to make plays,” Heuerman said.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to open the 2014 season on Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore against Navy. Kickoff is set for noon.