In explaining his decision to start J.T. Barrett at quarterback this week instead of Cardale Jones, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday cited production in the red zone and on third down.
Despite Barrett finishing the game at the helm last Saturday night, Meyer was noncommittal about making a move in the immediate aftermath of Ohio State’s 38-10 win over Penn State, and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said prior to seeing the film he did not anticipate any changes.
Three days later, Meyer’s justification for making the move was not a surprise.
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That is because Barrett’s insertion as the red-zone quarterback in wins over Maryland and Penn State the past two weeks led to almost instant success.
While the Buckeyes entered the game against Maryland having scored 12 times on 16 red zone possessions (75 percent), they are 12 for 12 since with 11 touchdowns. Perhaps more importantly, six of the scores in the first five games were touchdowns (37.5 percent).
Last season in the 12 games Barrett started before suffering a season-ending broken ankle, the Buckeyes were 50 for 60 in the red zone (83 percent) with 43 touchdowns (71.7 percent).
In the first five games this season, Ohio State was 23 for 66 on third downs (35 percent).
In the past two games, the Buckeyes are a combined 10 for 22 (45 percent) with the team going 6 for 8 with Barrett at the controls and 4 for 14 with Jones.
(NOTE: It should be pointed out Barrett played in parts of four of the first five games, so he had a hand in compiling some of the stats in both categories, but the majority of the snaps went to Jones and the difference coinciding with the beginning of the red zone experiment is significant.)