J.T. Barrett has racked up at least 10 Ohio State records and one Big Ten record playing quarterback at Ohio State over three-plus seasons, and he could add another in addition to passing a major milestone Saturday night at Rutgers.
Considering these facts and the clamor among some doubting fans in recent weeks, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was asked whether he thought Barrett was underappreciated.
“Very much,” Wilson said. “It comes with the territory of the position he plays, and it comes with the territory of where he plays.”
Some of the criticism comes from the careful way Barrett plays, Wilson said, something he sees evidence of the quarterback trying to change. It’s a sign that some of the urgings from him and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day are getting through.
What have they told him?
“ ‘Quit worrying so much, and quit trying to be perfect; trust yourself, trust your teammates,’ ” Wilson said. “ ‘Don’t be foolish and careless, but live on the edge and start anticipating, and cut it loose a little bit.’ … He can get us beat (with reckless play), but we’ve got to keep pushing him to get on the edge of playing smart football in an aggressive style.”
But, playing as he has, Barrett has still tiptoed deep into the record book with 112 career touchdowns (running and passing), a Big Ten record. He also holds Ohio State records for touchdown passes (79) and completions (605).
His Ohio State record for total offense stands at 9,986 yards, so it’s likely he will pass 10,000 yards against Rutgers. And with 200 yards passing he would match Art Schlichter’s Ohio State record of 7,547 yards set from 1978 to ’81.
“He’s elite at what he does,” coach Urban Meyer said. “Like Buckeye nation and all of us, there’s certain games you wish he’d played a little better, but that comes with (the territory). I wish I’d coached better, too. … I know he’s elite, and it’s going to be a sad day when we have to (say) goodbye.”
Barrett said he wasn’t aware he was close to a couple of more milestones.
“Did I picture it like this? Nah, not really,” he said. “I just go out there, try to do my best, win football games as a quarterback.”
But what helped get him in the record book is what Wilson would like to see change a little as the Big Ten season shifts into high gear.
“I’m not the crazy risk-taker,” Barrett said. “I think there’s a time and a place for that, which I feel like I can do that.”
Either way, he said he knows his production has been based in large part on the catch-and-run talents of receivers of the past such as Michael Thomas and Devin Smith, and of the present such as Parris Campbell.
“They’re playmakers,” Barrett said. “So get it out of my hands as quick as I can and get it to those guys so they can go run around, do what they do.”
And take him deeper into the record book.