Our Quarterbacks Can Beat Up Your Quarterbacks

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The 4,220th Buckeye Quarterback Competition Article

An article about nothing? Why should I read it?

The focal point of the 2015 college football universe is situated precisely three yards behind Ohio State center Jacoby Boren’s upturned posterior. He likely doesn’t mind the attention. He knows an elite signal caller, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett, will position himself three yards behind and clap his hands for the senior center to initiate the launch sequence for what is predicted to be a legendary Buckeye offensive onslaught this fall. With nearly two weeks until opening weekend, Buckeye Nation awaits. Jacoby the Slob will be positioned, listening, ready to maul. Will Jones or Barrett clap first in Blacksburg? Who will clap in Ann Arbor? Will either clap in Glendale?

2,821 articles had been written detailing the impending OSU QB triple threat match, featuring Barrett – “The Record Setter” vs Jones – “The Championship Winner” vs Braxton Miller – “The B1G Legend*.” On July 23rd, Miller confirmed that his twice surgically repaired shoulder would not permit him to compete for his former position and a change to H-back/receiver was his new reality. Had Miller’s shoulder maladies abated, Twitter, sports radio and TV heads that talk too much would have exploded by now and the Buckeye coaching staff would be delicately handling a hypothetically volatile situation. Now it’s Jones or Barrett. When scanning the national columns and beat reporters, the only constant is that no one truly knows: Cardale or J.T.?

*In its 91 year history, only four individuals have twice won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as MVP of Big Ten: Paul Giel, Minnesota, 1951-52; Archie Griffin, Ohio State, 1973-74; Anthony Thompson, Indiana, 1988-89; and Braxton Miller, Ohio State, 2012-13. Miller’s legendary status is not up for debate. He can certainly add to it this year with a breakout year at receiver.

Let’s take a look at the current roster of Ohio State quarterbacks and develop a best case/worst case scenario moving forward into the highly anticipated 2015 season.

Torrance Gibson #6 True Freshman 6-4 205 American Heritage HS Plantation, Fla

gibson_jumpA blue chip, dual-threat quarterback and athlete out of the coveted South Florida recruiting region, Torrance Gibson came to Ohio State this summer set to compete at the quarterback position. Recruiting analysts loved his athleticism and potential behind center, but they gushed and drooled at the idea of Gibson as a wide receiver. A week into fall camp, Gibson became the third high profile Buckeye (Terrelle Pryor & Braxton) to recently make the switch from QB to WR. The early reviews are glowing. Buckeye WR coach, Zach Smith gushed as well, “He has skills that most human beings should not have. His size and speed is very, very unique. And he can throw the heck out of the ball.” Whether this is a permanent move is a decision for a later date.

Best Case Scenario: Gibson establishes himself as a force at receiver and becomes an all-time great Michael Jenkins/David Boston-type big play big receiver. Think about J.T. to Gibson, not just this year, but for the following two as well!

Worst Case Scenario: Gibson bounces back and forth between receiver and quarterback and never maxes out his tremendous potential.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Instead of becoming a Boston-esque receiver, Gibson flakes out and becomes the Boston of body sculpting (COUGH…HGH) and nipple piercing.

Joe Burrow #10 True Freshman 6-3 208 Athens HS The Plains, OH

joe_burrowFrom South Florida to Southern Ohio. During his senior season of high school, four-star recruit, Joe Burrow, threw for nearly 4,500 yards and an eye-gauging 63 TD’s/2 INT’s in leading his Athens Townies (I assume) to the brink of a state championship. He also claimed the 2014 Ohio Mr. Football award. With the number of full time quarterbacks on the roster cut to four, the key numbers for Burrow this season are 0 and 3. Play 0 snaps this season and redshirt. By season’s end, establish himself as the clear #2 option on the 2016 QB depth chart behind Barrett. The only time his name should be mentioned in a telecast this season is when Glenn Mason is filling time with folksy anecdotes in the second, third and fourth quarters of blowouts on BTN.

Best Case Scenario: Joe Burrow gets into absorption! Leadership, work ethic, film study, knowledge of the offense, skills and technique… all free and provided on a daily basis by J.T. Barrett.

Worst Case Scenario: Due to a maelstrom of injuries, Burrow makes the two-deep or loses his redshirt season.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Burrow grows an unwieldy beard and leaves the program to play the git-fiddle on Athens street corners and Appalachian music festivals.

Stephen Collier #13 Redshirt Freshman 6-4 225 Lee County HS Leesburg, Ga

stephen_collierStephen Collier has a National Championship ring; Deshaun Watson and Brandon Harris do not. While Collier gets to be mentored by Urban Meyer, Watson gets to learn the meaning of Clemsoning from Dabo Swinney and Harris gets to learn the importance of Columbus Day from certified lunatic Les Miles. When Watson (Clemson) and Harris (LSU) turned down the Buckeyes, Stephen Collier (rated the 12th best dual-threat quarterback his senior year) became the choice for Meyer and the Buckeyes. His senior season he threw for nearly 2,300 yards, rushed for over 1,000 yards and accounted for 44 TD’s.

2014 was Collier’s year to be a sponge. He watched his name rise from 4th to 2nd-ish on the depth chart due to the injuries of Miller and Barrett (H-back Jalin Marshall would have assumed the role of quarterback had Cardale Jones gotten hurt in the post-season). He did not play a single snap in 2014, preserving his redshirt. In spring practice, Collier experienced a major uptick in reps due to the injury recoveries of Barrett and Miller. His performance in the spring game was quite un-Bam-like (7-19, 81 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT’s & 1 fumble). 2015 will be a crucial season for Collier. He has been in the system for a season and two springs (early enrollee). He has two stars ahead of him in Jones and Barrett, but he now has company on the depth chart in Burrow, perhaps Gibson, plus future signee Tristen Wallace arriving in 2016. With the amount of potential blowouts on the schedule, Collier should see regular 4th quarter mop up duty. He must value every snap he gets and prove to the offensive staff that he is a viable option in the future.

Best Case Scenario: Stephen Collier uses his legit size, strength and athleticism, his experience within the program, makes the most of his 4th quarter snaps and proves he is the 3rd best quarterback on the roster.

Worst Case Scenario: Stephan Collier is taking meaningful snaps at any point this season.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Two quarterbacks – two years in a row? You’ve got to be kidding me!

J.T. Barrett #16 Redshirt Sophomore 6-2 225 Rider HS Wichita Falls, TX

jt_barrettAugust 19, 2014. Fall camp. One routine throw. One re-torn labrum. One season down the drain. Hopes dashed before the season could kick off. Well, let’s see what this J.T. Barnett can do?

September 6. Virginia Tech. Night game in the ‘Shoe. 9/29, 1 TD passing, 1 TD rushing, 3 INT’s and sacked 8 times in a 35-21 drubbing. Brutal. The epitome of a total team loss. Maybe they’ll make the Outback Bowl.

NO ONE could have prophesied that these bleak two and half weeks would foreshadow an epic run to a National Title. NO ONE would have predicted that J.T. Barrett would win the Big Ten Freshman and Quarterback of the Year, make first team All-B1G and second team All-American, lead the Buckeyes on a ten game winning streak, account for 45 total touchdowns, set 19 (!) school and conference records, finish 5th in the Heisman voting and fracture and dislocate his ankle on the first play of the fourth quarter against Michigan.

Simply amazing! The steel will, the focused leadership, the technical and statistical improvement and the total admiration and respect of the coaching staff and team. And now he’s locked in a 1-on-1 battle just to start again? How is that even possible?

One Nagging Question: Can J.T. Barrett win championship level big games?

An Answer, Perhaps: In the biggest game of the regular season (at Michigan State – who finished the season ranked 5th) J.T. went off! 16/26, 300 yards passing, 3 TD’s passing, 86 yards rushing, 2 TD’s rushing, 568 yards of team total offense and 49 points. Bottom line is – we just don’t know.

Another: Does Barrett have enough of the arm strength possessed by Jones to consistently stretch the field vertically, therefore un-loading the box for Ezekiel Elliot and the Slobs to eviscerate opposing defenses?

Cardale Jones #12 Redshirt Junior 6-5 250 Glenville HS Cleveland, OH

OSU13FAM_CRR11
Three starts. Three wins. Legend! Without the improbable rise of Cardale Jones, Buckeye Nation would not have experienced the euphoria of winning the first College Football Playoff. No bloody Badger beatdown. No slaying of the evil Nicktator and his Crimson Tide. No splattering of the Nike Ducks. Three games. Buckeye legend for life!

In three years at Ohio State, Jones had played about 6 meaningful snaps of football. He had been a stud QB out of Cleveland’s Glenville HS, but a year in military school, a redshirt year and a year handing off in mop up duty as the third string had made him a forgotten man (I know, except for the Tweet). Questionable work ethic. Questionable focus. A penchant for immaturity. Cardale was likely on his way out of town. But with Barrett wincing in pain on the Ohio Stadium turf in the fourth quarter of The Game, #12’s number was called. The rest is the stuff of legends.

The season, capped by Cardale Jones unfathomable National Championship run, still seems implausible. Through potentially crippling turnovers and inexperienced miscues, Jones was unflappable. In the hours of post-season media sessions, he handled himself with humility, thoughtfulness and the maturity of an old pro that had seen it all. He gracefully bypassed the opportunity to cash in on his instant fame and NFL status by returning to Ohio State for his fourth season. And now he’s locked in a 1-on-1 battle just to start again? How is that even possible?

One Nagging Question: Can Cardale Jones sustain the season-long maturity and focus necessary to win every week?

An Answer, Perhaps: Wisconsin – 59 points. Alabama – 42 points. Oregon – 42 points. If Cardale Jones has the offense humming at this pace, the rest of the competition should be bugs on the windshield.

Another: You’re on the road at night at Happy Valley. Raucous atmosphere. You’re playing like crap. You’ve blown a 17 point lead. You’ve thrown a pick six. You’re playing hurt – sprained MCL. You’re going to overtime. Penn State has all of the momentum. Does Cardale Jones have the mettle to win this game?

CARDALE VS J.T.

Publicly, Urban Meyer has praised both for their physical and mental preparation entering fall camp. He has praised their maturity and comradery as well. “I think they’re both right there, and you probably wouldn’t expect me to say anything different, but that’s what it is. They’re both working their tails off, and it’s one of the most refreshing competitions I’ve ever witnessed … When I say best friends, they’re unbelievable how well they get along,” Meyer said.

Meyer has hinted at playing two quarterbacks, while both Jones and Barrett have bristled at the idea.

“I don’t think that would be a great idea,” Jones said. “In a two-quarterback system, let’s say I’m on the field for three plays and I’m off the field and he runs a drive or something like that; I don’t know how well that would work as far as rhythm and developing timing with the guys.”

“So, I think that would be kind of tough and it would be weird if we switched like every quarter,” posited Barrett. “So, I don’t think it would be best as far as the quarterback position being that we wouldn’t have the same rhythm or efficiency if we used a two-quarterback system. But if they haven’t ruled it out, I’ll just do what they say. They’re the coaches; I’m a player. So, I just do what they say.”

In his three+ years at Ohio State, Urban Meyer has been building a culture of brotherhood and family and playing for the man next to you. Unless one man wins the job outright in camp, this delicate QB balancing act will certainly test the foundation of the culture of brotherhood.

Would Jones be able to handle being second string? “That’s a good question,” he replied. “I’m pretty sure I would be able to, just being older and having more experience. Being more mature. It’s more than just me. It’s about more than just me. This team is bigger than any one single person so if I have to take that backseat role again I will have to — no choice.”

Every alpha dog wants to be the man. But let’s face it, after the Virginia Tech opener, the Buckeyes will be favored by a minimum of three touchdowns in six of their next 8 games (and those are conservative estimates). The schedule is not a murderer’s row. Relax man. There’s enough juice here to keep us all fat and giggly.

Best Case Scenario: An outright winner is declared in camp, the vice-quarterback throws his full support behind the starter and the Buckeyes begin their mission of back-to-back National Championships.

Best Case Scenario, Part II: No one is the clear cut winner and both dedicate themselves to the two quarterback system and the mission of back-to-back National Championships.

Worst Case Scenario: A few shaky QB performances, whispers in the locker room and the team subconsciously begins aligning with the quarterback of their preference. Cracks develop in the façade. The culture of brotherhood resembles a lot of hot air and hyperbole. NFL prospects start playing to protect their knees and draft position. A team from north of the border strikes a death blow to the title dreams.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Cardale and J.T. suffer season ending injuries in the first half of the opener in Blacksburg and the QB controversy becomes Collier vs Burrow.

Worst Case Scenario, Part III: Jacoby Boren becomes jealous of all the attention taking place three feet behind him. When the QB claps, he twerks. By season’s end, Boren supplants J.B. Shugarts in the record books as Buckeye O-lineman most frequently flagged for false start. Jones and Barrett request position changes.

Comments

  1. Phil Schoch says

    I’m on Twitter @TheGilmoreWink
    Thanks!
    hil, Phil

  2. Michael Joyce says

    Excellent article. Very informative, including background facts the ordinary fan likes to become educated on…..I hope to hear more from this journalist!

  3. Andrew Thompson says

    The “Schoch” Scenarios are like a magic 8 ball. What will the future hold???

    Maxing out my credit card traveling around the country…stadium hopping from bowl game to bowl game…bring on another College Football Playoff…bring on another National Championship…all signs point to yes!!!

    O-H-I-O…GO BUCKS!!!

    Nice article Phil.

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