J.T. Barrett made his first start for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday against Navy. The team was able to power through a tough Midshipmen group, winning 34-17, but the growing pains for the freshman quarterback were obvious and will take time to be worked out.
Given Barrett's youth and inexperience, head coach Urban Meyer certainly wasn't expecting to see Braxton Miller 2.0. The good news is the defense and running game were able to carry Ohio State early, allowing the youngster to get his feet under him and make big plays when the team needed it.
Here's a look at Barrett's full stat line from the game, along with highlights and reaction from around the Internet.
|Att-Comp||Yards||TD||INT||Rush Att||Rush Yds|
Before the game started, Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer noted that former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce was predicting big things for Barrett:
Earle Bruce doing a phone interview right behind me and he says "J.T. Barrett is going to have a big game. I'll promise you that."— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) August 30, 2014
While Bruce may have been wrong about how effective Barrett was going to be, the game got much better for him and the Buckeyes. Some of the problems early were on the rebuilt offensive line, as noted by Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer Ben Axelrod:
J.T. Barrett wasn't the problem in the first half for the Buckeyes. Mewhort, Linsley and Norwell aren't walking through that door.— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) August 30, 2014
The Ohio State fan group known as Eleven Warriors certainly came out of the game with no complaints under the circumstances:
Solid win. Young team overcame early adversity away from home to beat a good opponent. And J.T. Barrett looked more than capable.— Eleven Warriors (@11W) August 30, 2014
Barrett's biggest mistake came in the second quarter. Ohio State was trailing 7-3 and sitting deep in Navy territory. The Buckeyes got down to the 8-yard line following a 30-yard completion to Dontre Wilson, but it was followed by an interception on a poor decision from the freshman quarterback.
The good news is that would be the only mistake that cost the Buckeyes, as Barrett came out strong in the second half. He exploited Navy's defense in the third quarter, hitting Devin Smith for an 80-yard touchdown against busted coverage to give Ohio State a 20-14 lead.
According to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, that was the longest touchdown Navy has allowed in a long time:
The J.T. Barrett to Devin Smith 80-yard TD pass longest Navy has allowed in 10 years.— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) August 30, 2014
Passes like that are one reason Meyer felt comfortable giving the reins to a young quarterback. Even former Ohio State players like Eddie George like the way the team has eased Barrett into his role. George told Cleveland.com:
Barrett has gotten a ton of throws through the spring and now the fall. He's the guy and they can really tailor the game plan around him. J.T. is probably going to run a more conservative game plan and not put it on his shoulders to win the games. …
Ohio State has a ton of talent around (Barrett). There are explosive playmakers at every position on the offensive side of the ball, but defense will have to carry the brunt of the load and they can definitely do that with probably the best front seven in the entire country.
That was certainly the case against Navy. With the exception of the long touchdown pass, Meyer called a very conservative game, with just 15 pass attempts against 40 runs. As Barrett gains more experience, the playbook will open up and the offense may take off.
For now, the best thing Ohio State and Barrett can say is they got the first week behind them and the defense was able to lead the charge against a good Navy team.
It will be interesting to see how things change next week, if at all, with the Buckeyes playing Virginia Tech in prime time. That game is in Columbus, so Barrett will have the crowd in his corner.