COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ever since he entered the spotlight as Ohio State’s starting quarterback in 2014, one trait about J.T. Barrett that has always stood out has been his deftness in dealing with the media.
For the better part of the past three years, questions to the Buckeyes quarterback about particular plays have been met with thorough explanations from Barrett’s point of view. “Yes or no” questions have rarely been answered with a “yes” or a “no.”
Even during last year’s season-long quarterback battle with Cardale Jones, Barrett rarely seemed annoyed about the media-related demands that come with being the most prominent player at a college football powerhouse.
That was until Monday.
As he met with reporters for his weekly interview session, a sense of frustration seemed to emerge in Barrett’s answers. By the time his eight-minute meeting with the media had finished, the Ohio State junior quarterback was actually answering “yes” or “no” questions with a “yes” or “no.”
Does it interest Barrett that Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt is the brother of NFL superstar J.J. Watt?
“No, not really.”
Did the Buckeyes coaching staff treat you any differently in Sunday’s practice because of a shaky Saturday showing?
Do you feel like you’re fewer than 48 hours removed from having just recorded 26 runs?
It wasn’t tough to tell; Barrett was annoyed. And, perhaps, rightfully so.
The first six questions of Barrett’s Monday’s session focused in one form or another on his and the team’s offensive struggles in the Buckeyes’ 38-17 win over Indiana on Saturday. Not that they weren’t valid inquiries after his 9-for-21, 93-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception passing performance against the Hoosiers.
“We just gotta get back to what we do,” Barrett said in one of his more elaborate answers. “That’s one thing that was lacking in (the Indiana) game, and that’s why we played poorly.”
With the No. 2 Buckeyes headed to Madison to face the nation’s eighth-ranked team in Wisconsin, it wasn’t until the seventh question of Monday’s makeshift press conference that the Badgers were even brought up.
By that point, the one-word answers had begun.
And while facing what will be the highest-ranked team Ohio State has faced to this point in the season after such a sluggish showing might be a cause for concern for some, playing in such a big game should only benefit the Buckeyes. After all, those tend to be the ones where Barrett is at his best.
Since his redshirt freshman season in 2014, Barrett has served as Ohio State’s starting quarterback in seven night games, with the Buckeyes’ 8 p.m. battle with the Badgers marking his eighth. In those outings, Ohio State’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns has averaged 284 total yards, 3.5 touchdowns and a passer rating of 163.56 while maintaining a 6-1 record.
|Opponent||Passing Yards||Rushing Yards||Total Yards||Total TDs||Passer Rating||Result|
|Virginia Tech (2014)||219||70||289||2||85.16||L|
|@ Penn State (2014)||74||75||149||3||92.20||W|
|@ Michigan State (2014)||300||86||386||5||196.54||W|
|@ Rutgers (2015)||223||101||324||5||236.85||W|
|@ Oklahoma (2016)||152||74||226||4||199.84||W|
On the road at night, Barrett has been especially impressive. In his four road prime-time starts, he has recorded averages of 271.25 total yards, 4.25 touchdowns and a 181.35 passer rating.
In those four games, two of which have come against ranked opponents, the Buckeyes are undefeated.
So you’ll have to excuse Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer if he’s not as concerned as everybody else seems to be about the inconsistencies his quarterback showed in what was still a three-touchdown victory over a pretty good Indiana team. The Buckeyes—and even Barrett in particular—may not have played to their potential, Ohio State’s starting quarterback has already done enough in his career to earn a benefit of the doubt, especially when it comes to playing in big games.
“It’s just the way we do business around here,” Meyer said. “Expect to play great, and keep moving forward.”
Forward and on to Wisconsin, for what will be just the second road game of the Buckeyes’ 2016 season. The first? A prime-time matchup against then-No. 14 Oklahoma in which Barrett totaled 226 yards and four touchdowns in Ohio State’s 45-24 victory.
With leadership abilities Meyer has likened to Tim Tebow’s, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that playing on the road suits Barrett so well.
“You’re away from home and don’t have that sense of security,” Barrett said.” We like going on the road. It’s just us against everybody else.”
Monday’s interview session may have been the perfect preparation.