COLUMBUS — J.T. Barrett wins football games and wins awards but can’t seem to win in the court of public opinion.
Ohio State is 27-4 in games Barrett has started the last four seasons. He was the first-team All-Big Ten quarterback last season.
This week he shared Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley after throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-21 win over Indiana last Thursday.
In a more rational world than the one that surrounds Ohio State football and most big-time college football teams, the storyline on Barrett heading into Saturday night’s match-up of Top Ten teams between OSU and Oklahoma might be about the advantages of the Buckeyes having a quarterback who has started most of the last four seasons.
Instead, he is hearing his accuracy on deep throws questioned again after Indiana coach Tom Allen said the Hoosiers’ defense was built around the idea that Barrett isn’t an accurate passer.
There are probably some Ohio State fans more excited about the news that back-up Joe Burrow has been throwing and is close to returning than they are about Barrett.
“Everybody has their opinion,” was Barrett’s response to Allen’s words and possibly to his critics in OSU’s fan base, which was reminiscent of Bob Hoying’s reply to criticism in the mid-1990s: “It goes with the territory.”
Any starting quarterback in a major college situation will hear criticism. Multi-year starters can draw even more because there is more of a body of work to critique them with.
Since Barrett threw an Ohio State-record 34 touchdown passes in 2014, he has had 38 touchdown passes in the last three years.
Ohio State’s passing game was not good last year and it is still unproven this year.
But an excessive amount of the blame for situation seems to fall on Barrett. He was throwing mostly to inexperienced receivers last season and to say that they have improved dramatically this season is an opinion fueled more by hope than evidence so far.
Stretching the field and hitting deep passes is a little easier with receivers like Michael Thomas, Devin Smith and Jalin Marshall.
Not surprisingly, OSU coach Urban Meyer jumped to Barrett’s defense.
“He had a very good day (Thursday). If we catch a couple more of those balls, which were right on target, I don’t know how many drops we had but we had one big one. I want to say there were one or two others we could have come down with. He’s a very accurate passer,” Meyer said.
“The accuracy of a quarterback has to do with the timing and relationship he has with the receivers. If he is expecting a receiver to come back to them and the receiver goes there, it makes it look like the quarterback’s fault. There have been some accuracy issues with J.T. but also with the receivers. It’s much better now,” he said.
The bottom line is that Barrett isn’t perfect and doesn’t have the arm of a young John Elway or even DeShone Kizer, but at his best, he’s very good.