Playing quarterback at Ohio State can come with a spotlight that’s too big for some people.
But for redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett, being in the limelight is not something he is paying attention to.
“I don’t really have too much time to think about that. I just try to get better each week, make sure I have my guys ready as far as the offense ready to play,” Barrett said Wednesday. “Make sure everybody knows what is happening and doing what they are supposed to do.”
The offense seems to be clicking with Barrett at the helm, as the Buckeyes currently rank 18th overall in rushing yards and 35th in passing yards. To compare, OSU ranked fifth in the nation in rushing last year, but Barrett has the Scarlet and Gray sitting 55 spots higher from a 90th-ranked passing offense a year ago.
These numbers are coming with six starters on offense who are either freshmen or sophomores.
Despite the youth on offense, Barrett said he is not shocked with the success he and the Buckeye offense are having.
“It goes all into what we do as far as our coaches and our organization just developing young guys,” Barrett said. “Coming in, we would have Sunday practice where the young guys stay after and just developing each other.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer said as one of the younger guys, Barrett has come a long way from the wide-eyed rookie who took his first collegiate snaps Aug. 30. against Navy.
“He is fine now, (but) first game he had the typical Alex Smith look. Alex was the same way,” Meyer said referring to the current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback.
Smith, who threw for just 136 yards in his first career start under Meyer at Utah, ended up leading the Utes to a 9-1 record as a starter that season and earned second team all-Mountain West Conference honors.
Barrett said his seemingly calm demeanor on the field is because of preparation during the week.
“It is probably the things we go through in practice. Our preparation in things, in any situation as a quarterback you have to be calm and under control and know what is going on,” he said. “Have that awareness about yourself.”
The awareness is something that has paid off, Meyer said, as he added he knows Barrett is not the explosive quarterback the Buckeyes are used to having.
“(Senior quarterback) Braxton (Miller) gave us the ‘wow’ factor and would take one at any time. You saw a couple times last year 60 yards, 70 yards,” Meyer said Monday. “I know J.T. That’s not really his game. He’s a ‘move the chain’ quarterback. That’s fine.”
When Miller went down, Barrett said it didn’t really hit him at first that he was going to be taking the snaps for the Scarlet and Gray.
“First off, it was one of those things like, ‘Man, one of our brothers went down,’” Barrett said. “Shortly after that, in practice it was like, well, me and (redshirt-sophomore quarterback) Cardale (Jones) are going at it.”
Now that he has gone from third-string to starter, Barrett said things are not quite the same anymore.
“Life has definitely changed. When first day of classes, teacher calls your name to see if you’re here and everyone turns their head and looks back like ‘J.T.’s in class?’” Barrett said.
“(I’ll be) on campus walking to class and they will be like, ‘Hey J.T., what’s up?’ and I will be like, ‘What’s up man?’ So it is different. I try to talk to them and be like, ‘Man, I’m just a normal person just playing quarterback at Ohio State.’ I am not anybody special, don’t try to be a celebrity, I am a normal guy.”
The normal guy and the Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Rutgers on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.