Since the end of the 2015 season, redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett was the go-to guy for the Ohio State football team. He was always going to be the guy with the keys to drive the offense for coach Urban Meyer in 2016.
At Big Ten Media Days in July in Chicago, Meyer said that he couldn’t go into this season without his undeniable leader, Barrett.
When Barrett jogged out with the first-team offense for the team’s first offensive drive of 2016, the expectations were that Barrett and the Buckeyes would charge down the field and put the rout in motion.
But that wasn’t the case.
He threw an interception that Bowling Green’s Brandon Harris returned for the first touchdown of the season, putting the Falcons up 7-0.
Shades of the inconsistent play at quarterback in 2015 flashed into many of the minds of fans as Barrett and the offense retreated to the sidelines. It was a teachable moment for Barrett, one Meyer let him do on his own.
“Coach Meyer, he doesn’t say anything to me,” Barrett said. “The conversation I had with myself, though, is just like, ‘Well, darn, J.’ I didn’t use ‘darn.’”
Barrett continued to dwell on his mistake. He said he sat there for a few minutes, contemplating over the miscue until he put it behind him. He then went around to players telling them it was his mistake.
It would be his only misstep on the day.
The next drive, Barrett went out and delivered a 47-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman K.J. Hill, tying the game at 7. From there on, Barrett played as anticipated.
He finished with 349 passing yards while going 21-for-31 and throwing six touchdowns. Barrett also ran for 30 yards on six carries, scoring once, propelling him to Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
“I think he’s such a leader, such a veteran, and I think he knows this is his show,” Meyer said.
OSU finished the game with 776 yards of offense against Bowling Green — a program record. Meyer said Barrett typically changes the play at the line of scrimmage at least 10 times during a game based on what the defense presents — one being on the 47-yard score to Hill.
Barrett broke a school record with seven total touchdowns and tied a school record of six individual passing touchdowns by one OSU quarterback. However, Barrett continued his daily routine.
The next day Barrett, exemplifying a leader, was back in the film room analyzing his performance and where to improve with quarterbacks coach Tim Beck. Barrett said he agreed with Meyer that the wide receivers weren’t as crisp as they should have been.
Senior H-back Dontre Wilson called the quarterback from Wichita Falls, Texas, a “college Peyton Manning.”
“You can see him barking out calls, switching things up. He just keeps everybody going,” Wilson said. “Even when we’re making mistakes, he walks up and down the sideline and just keeps those guys ready.”
Redshirt sophomore Terry McLaurin — who is expected to play more Saturday — said Barrett’s overwhelming quality as a leader is his command of the offense.
“J.T. is a guy of high character,” McLaurin said. “We know we can trust him.”