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Opponent Player To Watch: Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett

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He is a great veteran quarterback

Oklahoma v Ohio State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Most Experienced QB in the Big Ten

It feels like J.T. Barrett has been playing college football games forever. He was a redshirt freshmen in 2013, started at quarterback in 2014 and led the Buckeyes to a 11-1 record, a B1G championship, and won a national championship that season, and led the Buckeyes to another college playoff run in 2016. J.T. Barrett was a preseason favorite to win the Heisman, but some early struggles this season may derail that possibility.

Nonetheless, J.T. Barrett is a veteran college quarterback that demands respect on the field from the defense and he is highly capable to make something out of nothing. In the first game of the season, Ohio State was down 14-13 to Indiana Hoosiers at halftime, but J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes turned up the thermostat on offense by demolishing Indiana 49-21. His experience may be his most valuable attribute to his game. He’s in the “seen it all” realm on the college football gridiron. J.T. Barrett has started in 33 games, which has included tightly contested games, blowout games, playoff games, and big rivalry games. J.T. Barrett will be the most battle-tested quarterback that Rutgers will face this year.

Oklahoma v Ohio State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

How to Stop J.T. Barrett

The key in stopping J.T. Barrett is to make him throw the ball while under pressure. J.T. Barrett is playing better than year’s past by throwing 966 yards and only 1 interception. His QB Rating is off the charts at 156.8. This also means his offensive line is doing an exceptional job with protection, which allows time for the receivers to get open. This could be a challenge for Rutgers, since star cornerback Blessaun Austin is gone for the year due to a severe knee injury (ACL tear).

To contain J.T. Barrett, you must stop route trees from growing into big plays. Ohio State does have a great wide receiver core with Parris Campbell leading the way with 322 yards and 2 TD’s. J.T. Barrett tends to take risks if he doesn’t see an open player down the field. He’s willing to throw the ball in tight windows where it doesn’t need to be, but this is what makes him so dangerous. Rutgers’ secondary must take risks as well by anticipating Barrett’s throws and making a play. Someone on Rutgers’ roster must step up in Blessaun Austin’s absence and watch for the deep passes from J.T. Barrett. Coach Urban Meyer loves athletic wide receivers and tight ends with track-like speed. I expect tons of deep fly patterns and cross routes for large gains of yardage.

Rutgers v Nebraska
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Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

J.T. Barrett is also a very athletic, dual threat quarterback that can scramble for yards or pitch the option-read to J.K. Dobbins or Mike Weber. He’s not going to burn you in a foot race like Lamar Jackson, but he possesses the foot speed to make an impact. J.T. Barrett has two rushing touchdowns in his own right this season. Rutgers must attack Ohio State’s offensive line and keep J.T. Barrett in a designated area in hopes of producing tackles for a loss, force rushed throws, and sacks. If they can’t penetrate Ohio State’s offensive line, it will be a long day for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has been good with the run defense so far this season, but their pass defense has regressed from last year. With Blessaun Austin out of the picture, Rutgers must expect J.T. Barrett to attack through the air more than usual.

This isn’t a quarterback that’s easily rattled. This is a tough quarterback that battled highly ranked teams at the biggest stages and in 100,000+ packed stadiums. This will be a daunting task for the Scarlet Knights. Can Rutgers win this game? Any team can win on Saturday, but to stop J.T. Barrett, Rutgers must mitigate mental mistakes on defense and dominate the line of scrimmage. If not, this could get ugly.