I wasn’t expecting a 31-0 loss to the Clemson Tigers on New Year’s Eve, but I should’ve been. I’m a new Buckeye, who grew up hating the Buckeyes, and I now love the Buckeyes like the Buckeyes love the Buckeyes (thanks, Kanye). I’ve always loved football. I know what good football looks like.
Ohio State’s offense was atrocious against Clemson, but that’s nothing new to anyone who a) watched that “game” b) watched the Buckeyes all season or c) attended a sports website during your totally-not-hungover-boring-NFL-Sunday.
Sure, OSU players, coaches, and fans are going to say that game was a fluke, or it just wasn’t there day, but really, we should’ve seen it coming.
J.T. Barrett is a hell of a leader and I won’t take that away from him, but the guy just isn’t that outstanding of a football player. Quite frankly, I’m a little shocked he was in the Heisman race at the beginning of the season.
Taking a look at the numbers, Barrett was incredibly average, if not below average, in the passing game this year. Among FBS passers, Barrett ranked 58th in passing yards with 2,555 and 34th in passing touchdowns with 24.
Those numbers aren’t bad, but that being said, still not good.
College football has an annual set of about ten to fifteen quarterbacks who can lead a team. Even though Alabama has magically found a way to maintain a reckless rampage on the league without one, Clemson’s DeShaun Watson, Washington’s Jake Browning, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson… even a guy like Trace McSorley at Penn State are all quarterbacks I’d be comfortable taking into the playoffs.
I get that J.T. Barrett won the Fiesta Bowl last season. I get that he saved what looked to be a lost debut season from Urban Meyer when Braxton Miller, quarterback edition, was knocked out for the season. I even get that he’s got a unique threat as a 6’2″, 225 lbs frame which makes him into one of the scariest power running backs in the country.
The fact of the matter is, J.T. Barrett has just not been good over the last few seasons. His passing numbers have plummeted over the last two. Here’s a chart I chalked up:
J.T. doesn’t turn the ball over much, which is good. What’s not good are the lack of TDs and vertical yards in games. When you get two years of experience and you toss 10 less touchdowns, combined with 40 yards less through the air, there’s something to be said about what you can really do for your club.
I’m by no means suggesting the Buckeyes make Barrett compete for his job next season. I’m suggesting they look to other guys to carry the load for the team.
There’s no reason Urban Meyer can’t replicate a similar system to Nick Saban’s at Alabama (let the chastising begin, Buckeye friends). J.T. is a better quarterback than Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, but Alabama doesn’t give two damns if Jalen Hurts is Russell Wilson’s second coming or a spitting image of Brian Hoyer. Hurts gets the advantage of handing the ball off to a stud running back 254 times a game, which works to his favor when defenses press and he can huck the ball for 15 yards at a time.
Mike Weber Jr. is as good as any running back Alabama has in it’s satchel of All-Americans, plus when Ohio State ran the ball this season, they won. They went 11-2 at the end of they, and their two lowest running totals, in both yards and capacity, were the losses to Clemson and Penn State.
When the Buckeyes won this season, they averaged 226.5 yards rushing via 47.3 carries. This doesn’t mirror the Penn State game, when they rushed 40 times for 168 yards or the Clemson game, when they rushed 23 times for (cringe) 88 yards. What the hell Urban?
Listen, I love the college passing game as much as the next guy. When teams are chucking the rock all over the field and point totals are hitting the 80-90 range, you can’t beat it… even though the game takes like half a day to watch when it gets that way…
Ohio State is a running team with a great defense and it needs to play like it. The Buckeye defense allowed the fourth least amount of yards (3388) and the third least amount of points (170) this season. Meanwhile, they were 13th in team rushing yards (3188) and a brutal 74th in the nation with 2781 passing yards.
Urban Meyer’s club can survive a rushing and defensive duel. They can’t survive a fireworks display. That’s why they lost 31-0 to Clemson on Saturday and that’s why were able to outlast teams like Wisconsin and Michigan.
So, Urban, do Buckeye Nation a favor and make a New Year’s Resolution to COMMIT to the run.