When J.T. Barrett became Ohio State's starting quarterback in 2014, he was nicknamed 'The Distributor,' because of his ability to accurately spread the ball to multiple Buckeye receivers.
Three years and 69 touchdown passes later, Indiana coach Tom Allen was not concerned about Barrett's accuracy. In fact, he said the Hoosier defense dropped as many as eight players into coverage in the 2017 season opener against Ohio State because they identified Barrett as an inaccurate quarterback.
"I feel like, with a quarterback like that that’s not an accurate quarterback, that’s what you try to do. So I didn’t expect us to get a bunch of sacks on him because the way we approached it," Allen said after the loss. "And even the ones that they caught, they caught them underneath and outran us. It wasn’t like they just ran down the field on us.”
Ohio State center Billy Price said Monday that he noticed the lack of pressure being brought at the Buckeye offensive line throughout the game, even in short-yardage situations.
"Especially in the goal line and red zone area. There was a case where there was a three-man rush and they dropped eight," Price said. "We just have to block guys up front and make sure J.T. is in a position where he can throw the ball clearly."
If game film is any indicator, Ohio State's next opponent could very well take the same approach.
J.T. Barrett lit up Indiana on the short throws, but his downfield passing was less than efficient. pic.twitter.com/9IWC4L0BIa— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) September 1, 2017
Oklahoma surrendered a modest 152 yards through the air to Barrett a season ago, but also gave up four touchdowns to Noah Brown. With questions about Barrett's accuracy circulating, the Sooners could take a similar approach to Indiana's.
If that is what Oklahoma decides to do, Barrett said he will need to strike a balance between protecting the football but also taking some chances downfield.
"There are times where I'll need to push it downfield and be a little bit more risky, but also be smart, and take what they are giving me as well," Barrett said. "That was something that we noticed early on (against Indiana). They drop eight, and read the quarterback's eyes. When they play like that, you have to know when to take the risk or just check it down."
As far as Allen's comments go, Barrett brushed them aside and said he is confident in his ability to deliver the football to open receivers.
"Everybody has their opinion, but I think I am an accurate quarterback," Barrett said. "I think I displayed that on Thursday, but I will try to keep getting better in that aspect."
If you look at the stats, you could make an argument both for Barrett's accuracy and against it.
As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Barrett completed 64.6 of his passes the best in the Big Ten. Since then however, his completion percentage has dipped each season. In 2015, he completed 63.3 of his passes and last season, his percentage dropped again to 61.5.
While his completion percentage remains a concern for some, Barrett's production over the last four years is almost unmatched. The Texas native is just three touchdowns away from breaking Drew Brees' Big Ten career touchdown record of 106, which was set 17 years ago.
Against Indiana on Thursday, Barrett opened the game a perfect 4-for-4 for 55 yards, but then went through a stretch where he completed just 6-of-17 attempts for 40 yards. He finished the game 20-of-35 for 304 yards and three scores, but as Allen said, most of those yards came after the catch.
So what will it take for Barrett and the Buckeye offense to get back to their efficient ways? Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said it will take a better performance from both the Buckeye quarterback and his receivers.
"The accuracy of a quarterback has to do with the timing and relationship he has with the receivers," Meyer said Monday. "If he's expecting a receiver to come back and the receiver goes (elsewhere), it may look like the quarterback's fault.
"That's what happened the last couple weeks. We had some accuracy issues with J.T. but also the receivers. (We are) much better now."