Despite losing 12 players to the 2016 NFL Draft in May, Ohio State jumped out to a surprisingly dominant start this season. The Buckeyes strung together six consecutive wins, and ranked second in the AP Top 25 at one point.
The majority of that success was credited to veteran quarterback J.T. Barrett.
But, the month of October, which included the team’s first loss of the year, was much more arduous for Ohio State. And the lack of success appears to be at least marginally because of Barrett’s pedestrian performances.
The Buckeyes passing attack behind Barrett has severely lacked its big play potential in the past four games. The 6-foot-2, 222-pound junior averaged just 6.66 yards per attempt in October and, as CFB Film Room displays in the tweet below, completed just 17.6 percent of his passes 20-plus yards downfield.
What's wrong with J.T. Barrett? pic.twitter.com/XrNfUBUP4P
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) November 4, 2016
In addition, Barrett is competing below 50 percent of his passes while under pressure and in the Red Zone.
ESPN Stats & Info wrote that one reason for why Ohio State looked out of sync in its 24-20 win over Northwestern last week was due to its vertical passing threat being nonexistent.
“The average air yards on Barrett’s passes the past two weeks is 6.0 yards, nearly 5 shorter than his average the first six games of the season.
Barrett has thrown 7 percent of his passes 20 or more yards downfield the past two weeks, tied with TCU’s Kenny Hill for the lowest rate in the Power 5 over that span. The Power 5 average is 16 percent.”
Added together, it has made Ohio State look like a far more manageable opponent than what it appeared like earlier in the year. Ohio State has played three consecutive games decided by seven points or less, including a 24-21 loss to Penn State on Oct. 23.
The Buckeyes welcome No. 10 Nebraska to The Horseshoe this Saturday.