Passing game focus goes beyond QBs

Kevin Noon, Publisher
Buckeye Grove
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USA Today Sports Images

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Few players have been under a bigger microscope than quarterback J.T. Barrett over this offseason. Barrett is ready to enter his fifth and final season with the Buckeyes and has already been named captain of the team for an unprecedented third time.

With that, nobody is questioning that Barrett has been a great ambassador of the program. The concern has been where Barrett's number have headed, especially down the stretch of the 2016 season.

Barrett is on his third quarterback coach of his four-plus year career with the Buckeyes with the addition of Ryan Day to the Ohio State staff. Day has wanted to work with Barrett on his footwork and head coach Urban Meyer is aware that is an area of emphasis but not something that necessitates a total rebuild.

"I would not say that it is an overhaul but it is has to do with accuracy and they are working their tails off," Meyer said. "I thought his freshman year, redshirt freshman year, he was a very accurate player and then last two years were not quite as accurate. You can see that he is really improving."

It has often been said that the quarterback of any team gets an unfair amount of the praise or the criticism, depending on how the team is doing. While Meyer knows there are things that Barrett needs to continue to improve upon, last season's end-of-year offensive woes did not fall solely on his shoulders.

"Offensively it is pass protection," Meyer said as he started listing off things that needed to be better in 2017. "Number two is accuracy with and underline under the deep ball. And then the cross face, finishing blocks."

Meyer went on to explain exactly what he meant by cross face.

"We have always been great, we had an unusual number of non-big plays," Meyer said. "We were not a very big play team and we have been for as long as I can remember. Dating way back to before Ohio State. It was because we were not finishing blocks. We call that cross facing. So those are the three points of emphasis on offense. And I can see the improvement."

Last season the Buckeyes had seven touchdowns of 30-plus yards (between Barrett and Joe Burrow). Barrett's RS-Freshman year saw 16 touchdowns of the same distance (between Barrett, Cardale Jones and Evan Spencer).

A deep touchdown and a short touchdown are both worth six points but stretching the field is something that Ohio State was sorely missing last year. Day and Meyer have been keeping an eye on how the deep game has been progressing and promise that the Buckeyes will be back to old form in that aspect of the game come the start of the 2017 season.

"We are charting everything and J.T. (Barrett) and the boys did a really good job," Meyer said. "We did not catch all of them but as far as accuracy, at almost 90-percent and that is what we are looking for."

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