Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘He’s willing to stick his face in there’

Garrett Wilson Ohio State Buckeyes

What Separates Starting Quarterbacks From Backups?

Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin competed to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback this spring.

No winner was announced, nor was there going to be.

It was only the first leg of the competition — or at least it would have been had Baldwin not decided to transfer out.

While Baldwin’s departure may have cleared up the competition, there is still plenty that the Buckeye coaches need to see from their eventual starting quarterback as he progresses towards the starting job.

“I think the big thing that you’re looking for is leadership,” quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich said this spring. “That’s a really big focus. How the team responds to that individual. Their presence. Their leadership. Being able to be vocal at times. And then it’s really performance. It’s productivity. That’s what you’re looking at.

“You also have to secure the football and along those lines there’s a lot of things that factor into it. Things like knowing pass protections, knowing when to get in and out of plays, knowing when to throw the ball away. All of those things that encompass good, sound football and helping your team win football games. All of those things factor into it.”

Garrett Wilson the Blocker?

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day talked this winter about the first time he saw Garrett Wilson in person.

He was at Lake Travis High School to take a look at Matthew Baldwin, but happened to notice a wide receiver blocking a defender into a tree.

Day asked who the receiver was, and the rest eventually became history.

Wilson enrolled early and took part in spring ball. He lost his black stripe this spring, and fans saw his playmaking ability two weeks ago in the OSU spring game.

As everyone knows, however, if a receiver is going to play a large number of snaps, he has to be able to block. He doesn’t need to be Terry McLaurin or Evan Spencer, but he can’t be a pushover.

So where is Wilson as a blocker so far?

“He’s blocking okay,” Day said this spring. “He can do much better at that. He needs to get strong and he needs to do a better job in the preseason of blocking. So that is very, very important. When we start getting into Big Ten play and we start playing against some of those hard defenses, we’ve got to be able to block.

“So that’s a big part of it and he can improve in that area and he knows that. It’s one of those things that we’ll be talking about after the spring. But he’s willing and he’s willing to stick his face in there and that’s 80% of it.”

The Search for Bullets

One of the dangers of bringing in a new defense with certain unique distinctions is that the team making the change may not actually have the proper pieces for those distinctions.

With Ohio State moving forward with the hybrid linebacker/safety “Bullet” position, they needed to have somebody on the roster who could fill the bill.

Being Ohio State, the Buckeyes aren’t exactly short on athletes, but the Bullet is a niche position that isn’t easy to find. To generalize it, he has to be able to defend the run like a linebacker and defend the pass like a safety.

Brendon White was always the most logical choice, which is why linebackers coach Al Washington and defensive coordinators Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison chose him. Behind White is Jahsen Wint, who shined during the spring game.

Other than those two, however, there may not be anybody else. With both players being juniors, some recruiting will need to take place to fill that role down the road.

But there also may be current Buckeyes who don’t quite fit one spot or the other and emerge to become the perfect fit like Brendon White.

“It’s a combination of both,” White said of recruiting vs. finding somebody already on the team.

“Hell, there may be a great Bullet on the team right now, we just don’t know yet. I think there is. We know him, but you never know as time goes. A year from now… I’ve just seen it happen so many different ways. In recruiting, I think you can identify that nichey guy.

“You know what it is a lot like, offensively you hear people talk about [Purdue receiver] Rondale Moore. That’s a great example. That guy is shorter. He can catch, he can run. Those dynamic guys. It’s the same thing on defense. You’re trying to find those nichey guys.”

7 Responses

  1. Who are you trying to kid with this QB competition talk? Just like last year, there was no true QB competition. Joey Burrow was never given a fair shot and this year the job was Justin Fields to lose. I have stated before you do not bring in the top rated QB that OSU has ever signed to have him sit on the bench, it doesn’t work that way.

    1. Posted by: Cageyone

      Who are you trying to kid with this QB competition talk? Just like last year, there was no true QB competition. Joey Burrow was never given a fair shot and this year the job was Justin Fields to lose. I have stated before you do not bring in the top rated QB that OSU has ever signed to have him sit on the bench, it doesn’t work that way.

      They still have to show they are worthy, as Dwayne Haskins did last year.

      1. If Yurcich’s comment is to be believed then Burrow should have started last year as everyone talked about his leadership and most admitted Haskins didn’t take it seriously early on. Gotta side with Cageyone on this one, Gerd. The fix has been in on the QB position and it’s decided before the competition really starts, not who WILL win, but who has the edge and who has an uphill battle to be given so much as a fair shake.
        I’m not usually this cynical and Tom would know this as I’ve been an O-Zone poster nearly it’s entire history, but Charlie Brown ain’t never gonna kick the football and the QB situation is decided long before, they just have to put on the show to keep kids from transferring, which with the new portal that strategy isn’t going to work anymore either.

        1. the last two instances where I can recall the QB battle being an actual competition both involved JTB: going backwards, there was a camp-long comp between JTB and Cardale in 2015, which if y’all recalled, spilled over into the season and kinda wrecked any chance of back to back natty’s. The year before, there was a heavy competition to be back up to Braxton… Cardale came into camp the #2 that year too, as JT was coming off a redshirt year to recover from a knee injury. JT stole it from both of em and won the Natty. Just saying, be careful what you wish for in terms of open competition. In one instance we won it all (except VaTech) and in the other, we crapped the bed. Burrow would’ve been a fine qb last year. While he wouldn’t have been as successful throwing the ball as DH, he definitely could’ve won us some games… and our defense could’ve lost us more games, as they’d each have been infinitely closer.

    2. The deciding factor as to why “Joey Burrow was never given a fair shot” was not predetermined by the coaches, it was DH’s superior ability; which, if the coaches decided that before or during spring ball, again, it was because of DH’s superior ability. And, as the season showed, DH validated that decision very well.

      1. Bluegrass Buckeye…keep dreaming about Haskins being superior over Burrow. Burrow out distanced Haskins in leadership etc…if you don’t believe the fix was in then you have no clue. BTW much of my information comes from a QB coach and the father of a former Buckeye QB. In fact, this same individual told me that if Haskins was truthful he would admit Burrow was the better QB.

        Let me also add Haskins would not have gotten up from the hit Burrow took in his bowl game last year!

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