A Productive Spring
Urban Meyer and his offensive coordinators have said on a number of occasions that one major positive of a competitive quarterback battle is that everybody comes through it having improved significantly.
With no returning starter at the position for the Buckeyes, improvement would be ideal.
So where did those improvements occur in Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins?
“In the second half of the spring, he did a nice job of throwing the ball and making decisions,” offensive coordinator Ryan Day said of Burrow. “He did a nice job throwing the deep ball and with his leadership as well.”
“The more reps, the better for everybody,” he said. “He has worked on command of the offense, getting the ball out on time and accuracy in the passing game.”
Who Makes the Call?
Quarterback wasn’t the only position left unsettled at the end of spring ball. The linebackers are still a question mark, though not necessarily a question mark followed by an exclamation point.
Linebackers coach Bill Davis doesn’t know who his three starters will be, but he is comfortable with his options. Even with the loss of Tuf Borland, there was enough talent and depth on hand to keep moving in a productive direction.
Eventually, however, a call is going to have to be made on who the starting Buckeye linebackers are going to be.
Who makes that call?
“It’s collective,” Davis said. “We all have so much experience. We talk deeply about everybody’s strengths and weaknesses and how they fit in making us the best defense we can be on that particular week. At the end of the day, I don’t think you can take one person to make the final decision. As a group, we all believe in the decision we make.”
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
There is some school of thought when it comes to the quarterback situation that it would be unwise to make a decision that could hamper the roster in 2018.
For instance, if Dwayne Haskins won the job in the spring, but just barely, would it be better to go with Joe Burrow so that you are assured of Burrow sticking around? The Buckeyes may not want to go into 2018 with just two healthy quarterbacks in Haskins and Tate Martell, so it would be better to hand the keys to Burrow so that you have more options once the season starts.
According to offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, however, that’s not how the Buckeye coaches think.
“You don’t call a play sometimes saying, ‘Okay, if this or this or this happens’ and have the negative side effect,” he said. “I think you’ve got to trust your gut, you trust your instincts, you gather information, and you make your decision and move forward accordingly. To sit here and say, ‘Hey, I can only do this because something can happen,’ I don’t think that’s the way our kids are. Even though kids have options, I think all these kids do too.”
Tennessee Tony Alford
Ohio State has dipped into Tennessee recently to land coveted players like running back Master Teague and offensive tackle Max Wray. They also received a commitment not too long ago from Max’s brother Jake, who is a top 2020 offensive line prospect.
The assistant coach assigned to Tennessee is running backs coach Tony Alford, but he isn’t interested in taking the credit for the Buckeyes’ success in the Volunteer State.
“Everyone wants to talk about, ‘Well, this coach can recruit and that coach can recruit.’ Here, it’s a staff deal,” Alford said. “We’re all intertwined. You look at Coach Stud, he recruited Max Wray. I just have Tennessee on my title, that I recruit Tennessee. Stud did that, and the relationship that he built with that family.”
As you would expect, position coaches also recruit the position that they coach, but it is all hands on deck whenever needed.
“It comes from top to bottom as far as how we go about recruiting and the involvement of our entire staff,” Alford said. “I really attribute it to that.”