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Monday, January 16, 2017

Kevin Wilson Makes J.T. Barrett Legitimate Heisman Candidate



By Thomas Scurlock

January 14, 2017

Just what J.T. Barrett needed?

Newly minted Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, perhaps Urban Meyer’s greatest coaching hire ever, is a quarterback whisperer. Will he turn J.T. Barrett into a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback?

Wilson’s history suggests he will, not can do it.

Set aside what he helped accomplish at Miami, Northwestern and Indiana, impressive coaching in its own right and instead look at what achieved between 2003-2010 as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator.

Jason White became the full-time starter for the Sooners in 2003 and proceeded to throw for 7051 yards with 75 touchdowns and 19 interceptions over two seasons capturing the 2003 Heisman Trophy.

With White at the helm, the Sooners made back-to-back BCS Championship appearances.

After a two-year blip with Paul Thompson and Rhett Bomar, Wilson unleashed Sam Bradford on the Big 12 in 2007.

Over two seasons, Bradford passed for 7841 yards with 76 touchdowns and 16 interceptions winning the 2008 Heisman Trophy. Bradford led the Sooners to the 2009 BCS Championship where they lost to Florida 24-14.

Bradford was injured early in the 2009 season and Wilson’s offense did not miss a beat when Landry Jones took over the reins.

Landry passed for 7916 yards with 64 touchdowns and 26 interceptions over the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

If you are keeping count, over six seasons Wilson’s quarterbacks totaled 22,808 yards with 215 touchdowns, 61 interceptions and two Heisman trophies.

By comparison, Barrett has thrown for 6381 yards with 69 touchdowns and 21 interceptions over three seasons. Commendable, especially given Ohio State’s history with quarterbacks, but it rings a little hollow without the hardware.

I wrote last week, and I believe my colleague Charlie Lockhart agrees, that Barrett’s leap from good quarterback to great quarterback might be more simple than we think.

Take more chances. Trust the receivers to make plays. Don’t worry about turnovers.

No coach would argue that turnovers are good, but Barrett was too conservative with his decision making last season. In 2014, he threw 10 interceptions which is consistent with Wilson’s quarterbacks at Oklahoma.

Look at DeShaun Watson who threw up 50-50 balls time after time against Alabama in the championship game. Why? He knew his receivers would win the battle most of the time and if not, he trusted his defense to bail him out.

That’s Wilson’s top priority in the spring. Get Barrett to trust his playmakers like he did against Oklahoma where Noah Brown made him look good.

Barrett already owns most of Ohio State’s quarterback records. I expect Wilson to do what he has done for most of his quarterbacks making the records untouchable.

If J.T. Barrett wins the Heisman, he’ll bury the criticisms surrounding him today while leading the Buckeyes back to the playoffs to finish off what they let slip away in 2016.

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