He can run. He can throw. He leads his team by example. He’s a two time captain already as a redshirt junior. He's the consummate leader of the Buckeyes offense. He’s a legit Heisman Trophy candidate. He is really that good.
And, well, he has the full attention of U-M coach Jim Harbaugh and his top-ranked defense, as No. 3 Michigan (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) prepares to play at No. 2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1) this Saturday at noon ET in the their annual rivalry clash.
Barrett, who is already 2-0 against the Wolverines , leads the Buckeyes offense as arguably the top dual-threat quarterback in college football. As a passer, he has already thrown for 2,304 yards and 24 touchdowns, all while completing 63.4 percent of his passes this season. And as runner, well, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder may be even more dangerous, rushing for 722 yards and eight touchdowns so far.
With Barrett’s combination of throwing and running, what makes him so difficult to defend?
Well, Harbaugh pointed out many positives that All-Big Ten performer does well, and that’s all part of the challenge of defending his “unique” skill-set.
“(He’s) slippery, and a tough runner like a running back,” Harbaugh said att his weekly Monday press conference. “But he’s got the vision of a quarterback. He’s got the throwing ability of a quarterback. There is times where he will put the ball in the tightest of windows. So all the heady plays he makes, all the athletics plays he makes, the fine throwing plays he makes, he plays with a lot of confidence. He’s an outstanding player.”
Harbaugh paused briefly, adding:
“It’s a unique combination for a guy to a have all those things.”
Indeed it is, and Michigan has seen those skills on display the past two time Barrett has started against them, both OSU wins, and both games Barrett shined the brightest in “The Game.”
“He’s a good player. The last couple years we’ve played him he’s put some numbers up against us,” fifth-year senior Chris Wormley said.
But was quick to note, they’ve seen spread offenses already this season to help them prepare for Barrett, but none have quite the same personal that OSU's offense can bring to the table this weekend.
“We’ve been preparing all year; obviously they have different athletes and things like that,” Wormley said. “But it’s going to be a game where we are going to have to shutdown a few players and we are ready for the task.”
Ready or not, Barrett brings a challenge that is like no other player Michigan has faced, says fifth-year senior Ryan Glasgow.
“He’s really a dynamic player,” Glasgow said. “He’s a great athlete, he can throw the ball. He can run with the best of them. So preparing for him is kind of like preparing unlike any player you faced in the year, I’d say.”
No one is arguing there.