Buckeyes & Meyer Finally Make the Move

J.T. Barrett will make his first start of the season - Photo: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

J.T. Barrett Will Get His First Start of 2015 After Disappointing Play from Cardale Jones

Well, it finally happened. After weeks of questions and rampant second guessing by fans all across Buckeye Nation, Urban Meyer has made a change. For the first time in 2015, J.T. Barrett will be under center for the Buckeyes as they take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

To his credit, Meyer has shown a tremendous amount of loyalty to Cardale Jones, the former third string after though who led the team to the National Title only after season ending injuries to Braxton Miller and the aforementioned Barrett. It was a remarkable run, one that we will look back on fondly in 5, 10, or even 15 years from now. It was that good, both for the unlikelihood of the three performances as well as the thorough display of domination put forth.

Unfortunately, for both Jones and Meyer, those performances are in the past. And, despite numerous opportunities to prove himself, Jones just never could find the magic touch that had many thinking he could be a first round NFL draft pick after only three games. At this point, after seven disjointed and frustrating performances, we've all been living off of nostalgia and it needed to stop. It finally will later today.

Through the first seven games of the Buckeyes' bid to repeat as National Champs, it was clear even in his limited time on the field that the offense just seems to flow better with Barrett under center. There's an exuberance and excitement when he enters into the game and everything just seems to go right. This shouldn't be seen as a knock against Cardale, but rather a further endorsement of Barrett's leadership. He wasn't named a captain for nothing after all.

The bottom line is that through Cardale's inability to develop any kind of consistent rhythm with the offense and J.T.'s cool, calm, and collected approach to conducting the few drives this team has struggle. Yes, the final scores to many of their games so far this season would indicate no such issues, but it hasn't been pretty. Turnovers, inaccurate passes, poor decisions, and missed opportunity after missed opportunity have rendered what should be a potent offensive attack punchless. Just think about where this team would be right now if not for the efforts of Ezekiel Elliot. He's the reason why this team is still 7-0 and ranked #1 in the country.

This is about to sound odd considering what I just said, but what makes this move so important is the fact that it didn't need to happen this week, or even next. No, even with Cardale Jones under center, this team would still continue to win. Don't misconstrue offensive inefficiencies for an outright disaster. The move is important right now because it will allow the Buckeyes the chance to reintegrate Barrett into the offense on a full-time basis against lesser opponents rather than in the final two weeks of the season against the teams from Michigan. At that point, the move may have been too late.

By making Barrett the starter, the Buckeyes can go back to running more of the read option, a style of play that Barrett runs effectively well due to his agility and precise decision making. Both are things he does far more superior to Cardale Jones. This will put defenses into more of a react mode, thus allowing for big plays and create mismatches and mistakes the Buckeyes can take advantage of. We saw it against Maryland and we saw it even more against Penn State. Barrett brings an added dimension that was sorely missing right now.

However, just because the move was made to put Barrett under center does not mean we have seen the last of Cardale Jones. Because Barrett will be more mobile and attempt to make more plays with his legs, there is the chance for injury once again. There is also the fact that Cardale's arm can serve a valuable purpose. If the Buckeyes get into a situation where the running attack has been neutralized, Jones will always be there to bring in and attempt to stretch the defense. He has value and has been a great teammate. By no mean do I think this is the end of the line for him.

Between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, Jones is by far the superior NFL draft prospect. His combination of size and arm strength, both similar to Ben Roethlisberger, will have NFL scouts drooling come April. It entirely possible that in the right system Jones could excel in the NFL. After all, while everyone likes to point at the poor performance of Jones, which is justifiable, they fail to recognize he has lost both his offensive coordinator... aka the guy calling the plays that made him look good... and his deep threat wide receiver. It should come as no surprise then that Jones has floundered in a short, precision passing attack when he is more suited throwing over the top down the field.

So tonight, when the Buckeyes ultimately obliterate Rutgers, don't pay attention to the score. Pay attention to how the Buckeyes get to whatever point total they ultimately rack up. Will it be from a high powered offense that looks unstoppable like we all thought they could be, or will we see more first half struggles followed by a few long bail out runs by Ezekiel Elliot in the second half to break things open? Then and only then will we know if Urban Meyer has made the right decision.

Other things to watch for tonight:

1. Will Joey Bosa continue he recent run of dominance? The probable top-five pick in next year's NFL Draft has really turned it on over his past few games. Will he continue his stellar play in both the run and passing game, or will we see him turn back into a pumpkin against lesser competition?

2. How will J.T. Barrett effect the impact of Braxton Miller? With Cardale, it was hard to get a gauge on Miller's impact or the impact of any receiver for that matter, for that matter, due to inaccuracy. Barrett and Miller clearly have a solid relationship, as evidenced by the fact that it was Barrett and not Jones helping Miller make the secret transition to wide receiver this spring. Will we see more of Braxton in the passing game and will it make him that much more explosive?

3. Can the Buckeyes survive the loss of Tommy Schutt? The loss of one of their key cogs along the defensive line is sure to make an impact in one way or the other. The Buckeyes clearly have the athletes on the roster to adjust. It will simply be a matter of how long until they completely figure out their new rotations and responsibilities. One positive, the injury to Schutt's wrist is not season ending and the Buckeyes expect him back in a few weeks.

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