J.T. Barrett aired out a couple of nice, deep passes at Rutgers the other night, and Wednesday afternoon, the reinstalled Ohio State starting quarterback decided to clear the air.

J.T. Barrett aired out a couple of nice, deep passes at Rutgers the other night, and Wednesday afternoon, the reinstalled Ohio State starting quarterback decided to clear the air.

Seems that while he was working to win back the No. 1 job from Cardale Jones for the top-ranked Buckeyes, a mission accomplished with his start against the Scarlet Knights, Barrett also was biting his tongue. While setting multiple school records in 2014, including the Big Ten records for touchdowns (45), before suffering a broken ankle in the Michigan game that opened the door for Jones to lead the national-title run, Barrett thought he had proved he could throw every pass in the book.

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Turned out that as many in the media tried to delineate the differences between Barrett and Jones in their preseason competition for the starting job, an often-used phrase was the bigger Jones offered much more of a deep passing threat while Barrett was the niftier runner. Barrett didn't argue with the latter, but he took umbrage with the former.

"We didn't have new plays in so Cardale could throw the ball farther down the field," Barrett said after practice on Wednesday, during the Buckeyes' off week. "We have our base plays and he worked within that. So nothing's changed.

"I wanted to say that for a long time, I'm going to be honest with you, because I didn't know what that was about. I threw deep balls the whole year (in 2014). And it was like, 'Oh, Cardale, he's got a stronger arm, they're throwing the deep route, passes downfield.' What? What are you talking about? I threw the same passes."

Flip on the highlights from the Buckeyes' hill-topping 49-37 victory at Michigan State last year, for example. His prime-time 44-yard touchdown rainbow to Devin Smith, after hooking up moments earlier with Michael Thomas on a 79-yard slant-and-go for a touchdown, made his argument.

Barrett did admit, though, that if things break down and someone breaks open "80 yards downfield, am I going to throw it? Absolutely not," he said as laughter followed. "Cardale is going to throw that."

Barrett's point: He threw his share of deep balls on the way to passing for 2,834 yards and a school-record 34 touchdowns last season. What helped him and later Jones in that endeavor was the presence of deep-ball threat Smith, now with the New York Jets. That no OSU receiver has emerged fully in that role this year is still something that could develop for the Buckeyes in the stretch run.

But what was clear when Barrett took over for good in the second half of a 38-10 victory over Penn State two weeks ago, and then when he made his first start of the season on Saturday at Rutgers, is there is a zing again in the offense with him at the controls. Even the OSU defensive players could sense what was brought by Barrett, a sophomore elected as a team captain this year, even though it wasn't clear at the time he was going to be the starter.

"Juice, and confidence, and a boldness about him where he gets after guys, he picks guys up," senior linebacker and co-captain Joshua Perry said of Barrett's presence. "As a leader, he connects really well, but as a player, he's got a lot of juice. And you can see it in the emotion that he plays with."

Since first being thrown in as the designated red-zone quarterback against Maryland, then increasingly at other points of the field against Penn State, and then finally as the starter last week, Barrett has completed 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and five touchdowns the past three games, and he has rushed for 272 yards and seven scores.

For an offense under Urban Meyer that fancied itself as more of a pro-style attack with Jones at the controls, it has returned to its roots as an occasional option, multidimensional effort under Barrett, who has proved to be quite adept as a runner (938 yards last year before the injury).

More than anything else, Barrett said, there is an attitude to it all, of playing like the score is "0-0" all the time.

"Do we always want to score when we have the ball? Absolutely, but I don't want that to be the main focus because then we're playing tight, we're playing tense, we're forcing things, trying to make big plays instead of just doing what we do," he said.

"The main thing is just be efficient on offense and make the most of what we've got when we have the ball. That's what our approach is, and it just so happens we're scoring."