Herbstreit: OSU can go to new level with J.T. Barrett at quarterback
Kirk Herbstreit is buying Urban Meyer’s midseason switch.
The ESPN analyst made the rounds on the network on Tuesday to talk about the decision to name J.T. Barrett the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback. Herbstreit said the potential with Barrett, who finished fifth last season in the Heisman voting as a redshirt freshman, is monumental.
“I’d be very surprised this Saturday if Ohio State doesn’t have their best offensive production because now you have J.T. Barrett, who has a week to get ready, to know that it’s his turn, it’s not the red zone, it’s not short yardage,” Herbstreit said. “It’s your turn to take the offense. And I’ll tell you what it’ll do. The threat of a mobile quarterback will open running lanes for Zeke Elliott.
“…This is a whole new potential for this offense now with J.T. Barrett and everything he brings to the table. I think they just made the change for their entire season — not just for Rutgers but their entire season — and I think you’ll see them go to a whole new level.”
Herbstreit cited the fact that now Ohio State’s skill players will have more room to operate. He added that the move should create openings to stretch the field with Jalin Marshall, Braxton Miller, Curtis Samuel and Michael Thomas.
The effect Barrett will have will be felt team-wide, Herbstreit said.
“I think this team has been putting the heart and soul of the team for the last two years on the sideline. Urban Meyer knows what he’s doing a heck of a lot more than we do. He deals with these guys every day,” he said. “I’m just telling you when I watched No. 16 in the game last year, the team responded — not the offense — the team responds differently to when he’s in the game.”
Barrett accounted for seven touchdowns in the last two games off the bench. He and Elliott led a rushing attack that nearly racked up seven yards per carry against one of the nation’s best run defenses.
The desire to get back to a run-first offense, Herbstreit said, is why Barrett is a better fit than Jones.
“When I watched No. 16 get into the game the last two weeks, the team responded differently,” Herbstreit said. “Urban Meyer’s offense is about tempo. It’s about having a quarterback that can make quick decisions. It’s about having a rhythm and when he’s in the game, there’s a noticeable difference to all of those things.”
Barrett will make his first start of 2015 when the Buckeyes travel to take on Rutgers.