Barrett's Blazing Start: Freshman Quarterback on Pace for Great Numbers

By Michael Citro on September 16, 2014 at 10:10 am
Barrett's doing big things as a freshman.

Everyone expects growing pains with a redshirt freshman at the helm. But, so far, J.T. Barrett isn’t showing a whole lot of youth.

Through the first three games of his collegiate career, the cool Texan has completed 44/74 passes (59.5%) for 757 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions. While it’s true he padded his stats against Kent State on Saturday, he also faced perhaps the best secondary he’ll see all season in the Virginia Tech game. Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State likely present the toughest remaining challenges during the regular season.

While the competition may be getting tougher than Navy and Kent State, it’s not like Barrett will remain the same. With every game rep, he’ll grow a little wiser as a quarterback. By the time the Buckeyes square off against Michigan in The Game, Barrett will be light years closer to the player he’ll eventually become.

The reigning B1G Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week already shares the Ohio State record for touchdowns in a game (6, tied with Kenny Guiton) and has done something Braxton Miller has yet to do—throw for 300+ yards in a game.

It’s worth pausing a moment to look inside the numbers at what the season might have in store for No. 16, because it could be special.

Barrett is off to a smokin' start.
Barrett's on pace to smoke several records.

Averaging 252.3 yards per game, Barrett’s current pace would place him at 3,028 yards by the end of the Michigan game. That would be the third most in one season by any Ohio State quarterback, behind only Joe Germaine (3,330 in 1998) and Bobby Hoying (3,269 in 1995). An appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game and one bowl (or playoff) game and Barrett’s average would take him to 3,532 yards—a new school record.

Even without a postseason game, Barrett is on pace to throw 36 touchdown passes, which would break Troy Smith’s 2006 record by six TDs. If his receivers had held on to a few more passes over the first three games, he’d already be more than a third of the way to Smith’s mark.

Barrett would finish the regular season with 176 completions on the year at his current trajectory. That would be good for seventh in school history and he’d do it on the eighth most attempts. His average yards per game, if it holds, would be second best by a Buckeye (Germaine averaged 277.5 in 1998). He’s already on schedule to shatter the career yards-per-game record (172.2 by Germaine).

Unfortunately, with any postseason game he’d also be on pace to break Art Schlichter’s single-season interception record of 21. But, as he learns, and as the Buckeye receivers (hopefully) stop serving up easy tip-drill picks, the rate of turnovers should slow.

These record are attainable by a freshman because Ohio State hasn’t traditionally thrown for a lot of yards. The school has had only one 400-yard passing day. That was by Schlichter in 1981 against Florida State. In addition, there have been only 21 300-yard passing games in Buckeye history prior to Saturday. Only five players—Germaine, Smith, Schlichter, and Steve Bellisari—have thrown for 300+ more than once, and only Germaine (8) has done it more than three times.

Barrett has already thrown for more than 200 yards in three consecutive games. That’s good enough to tie the third-longest such streak by a Buckeye quarterback. Only four players have longer streaks—Smith and Miller (4), Hoying (7), and Germaine (10).

It’s quite possible that defenses learn how to prevent Barrett (as he currently is) to beat them through the air. That’s when he and Tom Herman will have to make the next adjustment. But as he learns and grows with repeated game repetitions, Ohio State’s redshirt freshman should improve between now and the end of the year.

That should worry Michigan, because the last time they faced an Ohio State freshman quarterback they almost lost on their home turf. And we’ve already seen that Barrett doesn’t overthrow the deep ball.

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