Ohio State redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has made quite the impact during his first three weeks as a starter.
The Wichita Falls, Texas, native joined fellow Texan Kenny Guiton atop the OSU record book when he tied for the most touchdown passes in a single game as he tossed six against the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Barrett also became the first Buckeye to throw for more than 300 yards in a game since Troy Smith did it in 2006 against Michigan. Barrett finished with 312 on 23 of 30 passing.
Because of his performance, Barrett was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, in addition to earning his second Big Ten Offensive Freshman of the Week honor.
The young quarterback became the first Buckeye to win the Big Ten offensive Player of the Week award since running back Carlos Hyde won it following a Nov. 16 win against Illinois in which he rushed for 246 yards and scored five total touchdowns.
Barrett said after the win against Kent State on Saturday that he feels like he is improving game by game.
“I feel like I’m progressing each week. I’m just trying to get better each week,” he said. “I definitely feel more comfortable every week as I get more reps. Things are starting to slow down for me in the game.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer said he purposely put the ball in Barrett’s hands early and often against the Golden Flashes so he could further evaluate the young quarterback’s progression.
“I wanted to force him to make plays, and receivers — it’s not just him, it’s the whole combination of quarterback/receivers,” Meyer said Saturday. “I thought he played good. I thought there was a couple misses, too, now that we could have had.”
The misses that Barrett made were minimal, but he attributes the limited mistakes to getting used to the speed of the game.
“That is one thing (senior quarterback Braxton Miller) told me,” Barrett said. “He said ‘at first, everything is going to be flying around, and you will be really unsure and things like that but as you go, it starts to slow down,’ and that is just game experience.”
Redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has caught four touchdowns from Barrett in OSU’s first three games, said he believes in the quarterback’s abilities.
“J.T. is a real mature guy. We hold each other accountable and trust each other,” Thomas said. “I trust him and tell him I’ve always got his back out there.”
That trust has been evident on the field as Thomas is currently the Buckeyes’ leading receiver with 11 catches for 214 yards and the four scores.
Going forward, Meyer said he, as well as his coaching staff, is looking for more ways to put Barrett in a position to succeed.
“We actually did some empty (formations), I think he’ll be a good empty quarterback, five receiver set, so we’re still, once again, figuring out exactly how we’re going to be moving the ball as an offense once we start getting to the Big Ten season,” Meyer said.
The Buckeyes are set for a bye week before taking on the Cincinnati Bearcats on Sept. 27 at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.