COLUMBUS, Ohio — No matter how impressive the résumé is already, there are undoubtedly improvements to be made.
J.T. Barrett is the first to admit that he has areas of his game that need to be addressed during spring practice. But like the Ohio State offense as a whole, it's important to note that the veteran quarterback isn't broken.
The Buckeyes scored points in bunches — with one notable exception, in the College Football Playoff. And Barrett has now accounted for 100 touchdowns in his career for a program that wouldn't have even been in contention for the national title without his presence at the most important spot on the field.
But what can he do to take another step forward and end his run with Ohio State with a championship? In the first in our series looking at the to-do list for the Big Ten's top individual returners and some of their key statistics, let's begin with a player who's already among the most decorated performers the Big Ten has ever seen.
What's J.T. Barrett working on this spring?
The deep ball: The inconsistencies that hampered the Buckeyes at times — and the collapse against Clemson — were a collective effort, and Barrett was often low on the list of problems. The offensive line struggled to protect him, the receivers had issues with their routes and dropped a few too many passes, and even the coaching staff put Barrett in tight spots with the playcalling. Nevertheless, the spotlight always winds up on the quarterback, and it's no secret that Barrett is being asked every day in spring camp to help stretch the field better. Arm strength has never been one of his best attributes, but ranking just No. 76 in the nation with 29 completions of 20 yards or more isn't going to cut it for Urban Meyer. During open portions of practice, new quarterbacks coach Ryan Day has been emphasizing those deep throws and finding new ways to teach how they should be delivered. If the young receivers can get to the right spots this fall, expect Barrett to be able to find them.
Touch and accuracy: Barrett's completion percentage dropped for the second consecutive season, finishing last year at 61.5 percent. That was still good enough to finish in the top half of quarterbacks nationally, but it's well below the level Meyer would like from his passers. Ideally, Barrett would be around the 65 percent mark he posted as a freshman, if not even better than that, and that's where Day comes in with those new drills. The process starts with fine-tuning the footwork in the pocket, and Day has added some obstacles during drills that otherwise don't include defenders to stress where and how some passes need to be thrown. In one drill during open periods, Ohio State has rolled out a net in front of a downfield target that snags attempts that aren't thrown with the proper arc, just one example of Day trying to squeeze more accuracy out of Barrett.
Chemistry: Leadership isn't a problem for the program's first three-time captain, and his speeches are already the stuff of legend at Ohio State. So this might be the easy part for Barrett as he tries to get on the same page with his wideouts, start incorporating new pieces like versatile Demario McCall into the attack and help center Billy Price bring along an offensive line trying to cut down on the 28 sacks allowed last season. Ordinarily, Ohio State might be inclined to take it easy with a guy who has played and won as many games as Barrett has and take a closer look at the backup quarterback options with an eye on the future. But with new coordinator Kevin Wilson taking over to put his mark on the offense and Barrett trying to take strides after realizing there wasn't much NFL interest in him after last season, there's no time for him to relax.