Last week, Urban Meyer said that he was considering using J.T. Barrett as a red zone quarterback, in order to curb Ohio State’s struggles in opposing territory. He did just that on Saturday against Maryland, and while the sample size is small, the system seemed to work. Cardale Jones set season highs in passing yardage (291) and completion percentage (75), and threw for two touchdowns for the third time. J.T. Barrett shined in the red zone, rushing for three touchdowns against the leaky Terrapin defense. The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on all six trips inside the Maryland 20 yard line.
ESPN’s Austin Ward spoke to Jones about the debut of this true two-quarterback system, and unsurprisingly, he said all the right things.
“Coach Meyer kind of put it on the table just to us, not with the rest of the coaching staff, and he let us think about it for a couple hours, called us back up to the facility and then we were in the room with the offensive staff and him,” Jones said. “We talked about it and he asked our opinions on it, and both of us were completely 100 percent down with the decision that he made.
“It was a great call, and he proved to be right.”
“Oh, no, I’m not worried about stats,” Jones said. “Whatever is best for the team, I’m good with that. And the offense definitely didn’t miss a beat with any quarterback in.
“The only stats I’m worried about are first downs and touchdowns for the team.”
Ohio State has not looked crisp all year, and Maryland hung around for a while, before the Buckeyes exploded for 28 second half points to win going away. Over the last two seasons, the quarterback triumvirate of Braxton Miller, who has changed positions, Barrett, and Jones has proven to be extremely unselfish. Meyer had similar success with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at Florida; the combination led Florida to the 2006 National Championship over Ohio State. If Barrett and Jones continue to thrive in their roles, and the Buckeyes up their red zone efficiency, they’ll be a major threat to repeat as champions this season.