One, he’s getting more and more comfortable running the Buckeye offense, as evidenced by his standout performance in today’s 66-0 win vs. Kent State.
Two, he’s getting more and more comfortable with the media as well.
The redshirt freshman has been noted for his calm, cool demeanor as a quarterback, and it’s becoming more and more clear that demeanor suits him well in front of crowds, too. Facing a bevy of cameras and reporters after today’s victory, Barrett was disarming, insightful and occasionally hilarious in his answers.
When asked about whether the fact he threw six touchdown passes to five different receivers was planned or a coincidence, Barrett said, "Just a co-inky-dink."
When discussing those six TDs, which tied a school record set last year by fellow Texan Kenny Guiton, Barrett said, “I can hear KG calling me now saying, 'You tied me, you tied me, you tied me. You didn't beat me, though.' It's all good.”
Barrett later mentioned his previous personal record for scores in a game was four, which he achieved against The Colony High School back when he suited up for Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider. When asked if The Colony was a rival, Barrett simply replied, “No. They were bad.”
And when asked why OSU passes the ball forward on many of its jet sweep plays instead of just handing it off, he said, “It's just passing yards for the quarterbacks. Coach (Tom) Herman, he's the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He's looking out for me and Cardale (Jones). It's just cheap passing yards.”
Barrett had the same cool, collected voice in the huddle during his record-setting performance against the Golden Flashes. He finished 23 of 30 through the air with 312 yards passing, becoming the first Buckeye to reach the 300-yard mark since Terrelle Pryor had 334 vs. Indiana in 2010.
It was also an impressive bounce-back performance after Barrett completed just 9 of 29 passes last week in the loss to Virginia Tech, in which he also had trouble with receivers dropping passes and an offensive line that struggled with a creative blitzing package late in the game.
“In the first half I wanted to throw a lot,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “I wanted to force him to make plays, and the receivers – it's not just him, it's the whole combination of quarterback and receivers. I thought he played good. I thought there were a couple of misses, too, that we could have had. But a young quarterback needs to do that.”
Herman, the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, also expressed his approval of both Barrett and his receivers, 11 of whom caught passes on this day.
“He was better,” Herman said, “and the guys around him played better. Which one was more an influence on how the offense executed it would be hard for me to tell you standing right here, but both of those did happen.”
With both of those things coming together, Barrett admitted that his confidence – which hasn’t really wavered since he was tabbed two weeks before the season to replace the injured Braxton Miller – did receive a nice shot in the arm, especially considering the showing the week before.
“Game by game, I'm just getting more comfortable, getting that confidence and throwing the ball down the field and things like that,” he said. “With everything we do offensively, it helps having game reps compared to just practice because I mean with Braxton being out in fall camp and spring ball, I had all the practice reps, but it's very different when it comes to a game than practice. The game reps are valuable and helpful for a quarterback. That definitely helped a lot."
Barrett added that he thought there would be a moment on the field when the light would go on and he’d feel comfortable at the Division I level. Instead, he’s learned it’s a process of getting better each week, and anyone who left Ohio Stadium after the drubbing of the Flashes knew that was the case for the Lone Star State native.
“I think for the first three games of the season, a lot of it had to do with just learning on the fly,” Barrett said. “I feel like I'm progressing each week. Last week I had some good areas, did some good things, but I could have done better in other areas, too. I'm just trying to get better every week. That's the main thing as we go through the season."