Football Hayes & Cannon

Ohio State Spring Football Overview – Quarterbacks

Dwayne Haskins Ohio State Football Buckeyes


Well, I think we tried very hard not to be overconfident, because when you get overconfident, that’s when something snaps up and bites you.” ~ Neil Armstrong

Born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Neil Armstrong made the great state of Ohio proud when he became the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.  Other great events have been known to have taken place on July 20th, such as the birth of legendary Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith (1984), and let’s just say one part of a great podcast team known as The Silver Bullets Podcast.

Back to Neil Armstrong – during the moon landing, Armstrong’s heart rate ranged from 100 to 150 beats per minute, attesting to the perilous nature of the mission that he and NASA were undertaking.  Not nearly as life threatening, but certainly under tremendous scrutiny, is the attention focused upon the next player to win the starting quarterback position for Ohio State this season. Whoever winds up taking the first snap of the 2018 season, we will have to wonder what the heart rate will be when they come out onto the field in Ohio Stadium.

Over the past few weeks, and continuing for a little bit longer, I am examining the various position groups within the team, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Game on April 14th. These pieces look at the position groups from positions of least concern to greatest concern, based upon the returning players, incoming recruits, and performances that were seen throughout the 2017 season.

With spring practice, the threat of injury is of paramount concern, and the possibilities of transfers during/following spring practice can have an impact upon the position rankings. As always, it is my sincere hope that these articles will spark discussion and dialogue, and I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I look forward to writing them. Onto the subject at hand, the Ohio State quarterbacks.

Players Lost:  J.T. Barrett (eligibility)

Players Returning:  Dwayne Haskins (Redshirt Sophomore), Joe Burrow (Redshirt Junior), Tate Martell (Redshirt Freshman)

Incoming Recruit:  Matthew Baldwin

Why did I rank the quarterback position as a position of high concern?  Let’s be honest, the last quarterback battle that took place before the 2015 season, between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, was a mystery up until the opening series.

Do you want to take it back even further when talking about a three man race for the starting quarterback spot?  I remember how Ohio State went into the 1996 spring game, forecasting the quarterback battle to replace Bobby Hoying as being between incoming JUCO quarterback recruit Mark Garcia — the designated recruit by then-Ohio State quarterback coach Walt Harris, and Stanley Jackson, only to have Joe Germaine play tremendously well.  In other words, Ohio State fans are going back over 20 years since the last time it was a true three-man quarterback battle such as we are seeing between Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow, and Tate Martell this spring.

So many other individuals have written about what Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow, and Tate Martell can, or will, bring to the quarterback position if they win the job. My man Shannon Sommers has not been shy on The Silver Bullets Podcast, or Accost The Field, in expressing his thoughts on why Joe Burrow should be the starter at quarterback.

My concerns go back beyond the 2015 season, even before Urban Meyer was named Ohio State’s head coach, to the time Meyer had to replace Tim Tebow at Florida. Tebow was seemingly joined at the hip with Meyer during close games. He was a tremendous leader, tough, and had the mobility at the position that Coach Meyer seemingly needs for his offense to function well.

Then came 2010 and John Brantley.  Replacing the legendary Tebow was daunting enough, but coming in and having the offense sputter badly,just made the quarterback position even more of a target.

I think back to 2010 with Brantley and how the Florida offense did not play well.  I remember how well Cardale Jones played during the 2014 national championship run against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon, but then I remember Jones not playing well in 2015, looking over his shoulder, fearful of making a mistake.

Am I the only Ohio State fan who felt the coaching staff handled that quarterback decision in 2015 poorly?  Has Urban Meyer learned from the 2015 quarterback battle?  Will he truly delegate this decision to Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, or will his reliance upon the quarterback zone read as a staple of the offense be truly difficult to relinquish?

When asked on March 26th about the current quarterback battle, and looking back at the 2015 season, Meyer seemed to disagree that the coaching staff handled that 2015 quarterback battle poorly.

“I don’t have time to look back at that, no,” he said. “I know we won every game except for one, and I think Cardale Jones went undefeated as a starter. And J.T. Barrett was probably the most successful quarterback in Big Ten history. I think they probably did all right.”

For all of Barrett’s critics, Meyer seemed to have the same type of reverence and respect for Barrett as he did for Tim Tebow.  For all of the people clamoring for Dwayne Haskins to become the starter based upon his superior arm strength and performance against Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2017, I am having a difficult time picturing an Ohio State offense with Urban Meyer as the head coach and not having the quarterback zone read play as a staple of the offense.

Maybe it’s because I have previously seen Meyer’s offenses when the quarterback was not effective with the zone read, and the results were not pretty.

It is because of the mobility of Joe Burrow, and his skill set at quarterback, which is similar enough to J.T. Barrett, that makes me believe Burrow is a viable contender in this quarterback battle.  It is because of Tate Martell’s intangibles as a runner, despite his inexperience, that make me believe he is also very much in the running to win the job.

Mobility at the quarterback position has been so critical throughout Meyer’s head coaching career (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, Ohio State), and I have difficulty envisioning him going without that attribute or skill set at quarterback.

Drawing upon the words and wisdom of Neil Armstrong, overconfidence can cause some huge mistakes, and right now, the lack of a clear leader at the quarterback position this late into spring practice has me anything but overconfident.

Here is to hoping that the spring game on April 14th will help the coaching staff delineate the quarterback depth chart better going into fall camp, as well as the season opener against Oregon State.


17 Responses

  1. I personally feel it’s a 2 quarterback race based entirely on the CEO’s history. It’s both Joe and Tate’s job to lose. It matters not 1 solitary bit what Day and Wilson say concerning the “3” man race. CEO Meyer is GOING to pick the QB and I suspect he already has it whittled down to just 2. When all else fails………..go with what you know, or you THINK you know to be true and go with that as your answer. Meyer could hire Jesus Christ Himself as the Buckeye QB coach and he would still be the guy choosing the quarterback. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a thing.

    I’ve watched Dwayne and Joe passing and completely disagree that Dwayne has a stronger passing arm. It “could” be a tad stronger but I haven’t seen any instances of it being true. “Maybe” a slight accuracy lead for Dwayne. Running ability isn’t even close. Joe by a lot.

    I remember back to when Coach Bruce called up to the press box and asked Jim Tressel why (paraphrasing) he was running the same play over and over. Jim’s response? I’ll call another one when they stop the one I’ve been calling. The lesson is that if it ain’t broke………..don’t fix it.

    Fans and some players (see Zeke’s comments after the fiasco against MSU a few years ago and Jones concerning play calling during games). We scream loud to the CEO that they are slam dunking his coveted power lead QB runs and he needs to move to a new play. The CEO responds by ignoring everything and everyone and running the same failed play until the team loses.

    Moral of the story? Hey CEO, defenses with remotely similar talent have adjusted to your security blanket and developed ways to eliminate your numbers advantage, thereby smacking your coveting quarterback runs like a pimp slapping his ho’s. TURN THE DAMNED PAGE!

  2. The points raised in the article hit at the heart of the matter. At various times this spring, the two offensive coordinators and the head coach have vouched for the talent of all 3 QBs. This means that, assuming they aren’t lying to the fan base (gasp!), the more pressing matter is game planning or play selection as opposed to questions about whether QB# 1 can throw, or QB# 2 can run. The other skill positions are rampant with talent as well.
    My best guess is that the Spring game will do zero to answer these questions, leaving us about 5 months to wonder. My sincerest hope for the offense is that ONE guy (and I’d prefer his initials be something other than UM) actually be permitted to do his job and play call a game without interference. If we are “treated” to Haskins running it 16 times a game by design, or Martell or Burrow throwing pointless 20 yard parallel passes that good defenses salivate after, we may be in for a longer season than most of us would care to admit. Here’s hoping…

  3. One thing not mentioned but inferred was Urban’s seeming arrogance / stubbornness to how his offense has been working against good defenses. Good defenses have figured Urban’s offense out and everyone is sharing the notes. When the opponent’s talent is equal, the offense looks average because those teams can take away the QB options. Play calling becomes very predictable when Urban ignores adjustments and continues to run QB into the box. (You know it is bad when TV commentators are correctly predicting plays).

    Stats don’t lie. Yes much improved passing yards last year but if one only looks at the games against really good defenses the past 4 years, the offense struggles when Urban uses the QB as a RB. Maybe it was JTB’s limited passing skill set, maybe Urban’s unwillingness to adjust. I call BS on Urban not looking back to analyze failures and successes. He is either lying or arrogant. Both are bad. The best teams and companies learn from their mistakes. Having a good passing QB who can make any pass (and occasionally run) and great RB’s running the ball, keep defenses honest and off balance. Urban needs to takes a deep look at his offensive successes against good teams when out of necessity he couldn’t use his QB as a RB and make changes. Saban did – and won a NC game subbing in a freshman QB who could actually make passes.

    1. There are a lot of people on this site hoping that Burrrow or Martell wins the quarterback battle. Lets say Burrow and Haskins were in a foot race, I guarantee you who ever win it wouldn’t be by much. Now if there was a competition between the two throwing in tight windows, Haskins will win hand down. I been watching Burrow when he was in spring and regular season games and he always throw to wide-open receivers. Why would you not start a guy who everyone says that he will be playing on Sunday? The bottom line, NFL talent will rise to the top. Haskins have that type of talent.

      1. The problem being. CEO Meyer (right or wrong) doesn’t give even a thimble’s bit of care if a guy is an NFL caliber quarterback. He doesn’t run a pro style offense and he never will because he doesn’t possess pro style football ideals. His entire entire offensive philosophy id predicated on creating run number advantages for his quarterback. If the quarterback is “sufficient” passing up to the extent of the box, it doesn’t make any difference to him what the quarterback is capable of actually throwing down the field. Dip/dunk passing and good rushing skills is the end of the CEO’s give a crap. As fans, the years have proven that the Buckeyes stink at producing NFL capable quarterbacks. Cardale is the exception and he’s not starting anywhere. Properly developed in College he could potentially be lighting up the NFL. His arm is big league, it was just never refined in school because those tools just are not a priority to teach in the CEO’s philosophy.

        1. If that’s true why is Meyer still going after pro style quarterbacks? Plus, offenses are changing, ask Nick Saban. I think the reason Ohio Sate stink at producing capable NFL quarterbacks is because they never really had had one.

  4. Imo Cardale’s struggles in 2015 was on the coaching staff. Warinner was a complete disaster as a OC. Had they ran the same offense as they did in 2014 we would have made the playoffs and probably win back to back Natty’s. Cardale was a very capable runner, just ask Landon Collins. I’ll never figure out why they went away from what won us a natty. Then Meyer was bound and determined to force Miller into the offense was a mistake as well. All those wildcat plays did was stop the offense. Our offense is at its best when we are running downhill between the tackles. But you need a QB that can throw on time and hit the receivers in stride. JT could do neither of those things.

  5. Good article with no answers, which is exactly where the situation lies. I’ve always felt the Burrow will be the starter for two reasons. One, the situation mentioned in the article regarding style and two, the fact that Haskins never beat out Burrow in prior years until the injury. the fact that Haskins played well against scUM really complicates things, but I also think that Burrow is an Urby-type QB and that will be the determining factor.

    If this happens, I expect Haskins to transfer and Tate will be the next man up. He’s an Urby-type too. Either way, we’re in better shape at QB than I’ve ever seen at OSU.

    1. Thanks for the comments. I agree that the QB situation is currently situated with no answers.

  6. Meyer and his beloved QB Power Dive…? If Meyer can’t, or refuses to, figure out how to use Haskins and build an offense around him then he should never recruit another pro style QB. Just admit the QB in his offense is a RUNNER first and passing talent is a distant second. That would be the honest assessment of his time at OSU as he has LITERALLY ran two QBs in the dirt (Braxton / Barrett). The irony is, his greatest success at OSU was a three game stretch where he practically had to set aside the QB power to dive as his base play and let the QB be a QB and let the RB do the rushing.

    Clemson actually laughed at our offense last time we played them. All of the playoff teams would have destroyed us last year with the QB power dive (Going to the Cotton Bowl was a blessing). We will continue to win a lot of games regardless, but Meyer will not win a 2nd National Title at OSU running QB power dive as his base play.

    1. Thanks for the comments. As I wrote, I have difficulty seeing Urban Meyer not having his QB run the ball, and I also agree that the national title run focused on running the ball with Zeke, vs trying to have Cardale power the ball.

    2. Cardale ran the ball a combined 39 times vs Bama and Oregon. So you’re wrong about that. If you are hoping Urban completely abandons the QB run game, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

      1. you’re incompetently confusing QB scrambles (which count as rushes) with designed run calls.

        1. Cardale had a lot of designed run calls for him, he was capable enough to do that. The point of the matter is he ran the ball and ran a lot. You don’t run the ball 22 times in the national championship game just scrambling.

  7. They had better get this figured out before the fall camp, or I am concerned we are in for a disappointment.

    1. Thanks for the comments. I am also hoping for clarity before fall camp.

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