After 10 games watching from the sideline, redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett has his starting job back.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer announced during Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference that the Wichita Falls, Texas, native will start the game for the first time since last season’s game against Michigan on Nov. 29. He suffered a fractured ankle in that game, opening the door for Cardale Jones to take over.
After leading OSU to a national championship in his first three career starts, Jones won a narrow quarterback battle before the 2015 season and held the job for each of OSU’s first seven games.
However, the redshirt junior struggled in OSU’s Week 7 game against Penn State, completing nine of 15 passes for 84 yards before being pulled from the game for Barrett in the second half. Barrett went 4-of-4 for 30 yards and two touchdowns and ran 11 times for 102 yards and two more scores.
“J.T. has earned the right to start,” Meyer said.
Meyer said “sheer production,” red-zone performance and third-down efficiency were reasons he felt Barrett was the right man for the job.
Barrett was used in the previous two games as a red-zone specialist, entering the game when OSU was near the 20-yard line because of Jones’ struggles throughout the season in short-field situations.
In the last two games with Barrett in the red zone, the Buckeyes were 12-of-12 in scoring, including 11 touchdowns.
For the season, Jones is 93-of-149 for 1,242 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also run 50 times for 130 yards and a score.
Barrett, in six games filling in off the bench, is 27-of-44 for 249 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. He has carried the ball 29 times for 228 yards and five touchdowns.
Last season, Barrett was named Big Ten Quarterback of the Year for his performance in 12 games after starter Braxton Miller was lost for the season weeks before its start. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting after completing 203 of 314 passes for 2,834 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with 171 carries for 938 yards and 11 scores.
Meyer said on Tuesday that the “confidence factor wasn’t quite there” for the captain coming off injury to begin the season, but he has seen him return to his 2014 form in recent weeks.
The Buckeyes are set to get their first look at Barrett as a starter in 2015 when they travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, on Saturday to face off against Rutgers. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.