Breaking Down Urban’s Depth Chart: Quarterbacks
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The new boss has wasted no time setting a new standard at Ohio State.
Urban Meyer, the 24th head coach in OSU history, has made it abundantly clear in his six months on the job that he is not one to pull punches.
Even verbal ones.
That goes for the media, and his own football players. This past week, Meyer released his first-ever 2-deep depth chart at Ohio State. It came after a sit-down with each of his players, some of whom came away smiling and others who were probably spinning after finding out where they stood following Meyer’s first spring in Columbus.
“Our focus in August — and this has just evolved for me over the years — isn’t developing a depth chart,” Meyer said.
“It’s trying to go win a game.”
Their first game is on Sept. 1 in Ohio Stadium. How much different will the depth chart look three months from now? Probably not much, but we’re going to break down Urban’s first depth chart for a closer look at how things might develop over the summer and during the 29 practices in the fall.
Let’s start with the QUARTERBACKS…
Photo by Jim Davidson
Pre-spring pecking order: Braxton Miller starting and Kenny Guiton backing up. Cardale Jones outside looking in.
Unless Meyer felt he needed to send a message to Miller this spring, the only thing that made sense heading into April was that Miller would take the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense and Guiton would spend most of spring camp with the twos.
There was also some intrigue as to whether or not freshman Cardale Jones could jump in and grab some of Guiton’s reps with the second-team offense after enrolling at Ohio State in January with Fork Union teammate Michael Thomas.
Post-spring depth chart: Miller starting and Guiton backing up.
Photo by Dan Harker
These are the only two quarterbacks listed on Meyer’s post-spring depth chart, which makes complete sense based on the fact they were the only two quarterbacks who took snaps during Meyer’s first spring game.
Miller took at least 90 percent of the snaps with the first team offense this spring as Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman put the Buckeyes through a crash-course in the spread.
They like Miller a lot. The good news is, they are starting to like Guiton more and more as a quality backup — something he was not a year ago.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Who is missing?: The Buckeyes won’t have another scholarship signal-caller showing up in the fall since Cardale Jones enrolled early and took part in spring practice with his new teammates. That doesn’t mean the freshman quarterback was not M.I.A. for most, if not all, of Ohio State’s 15 spring practices.
The Glenville product is a year removed from high school, after spending last season at military school in Virginia, but he spent more time clenching his teeth during spring ball than he did throwing a football. He took zero snaps in the spring game, and zero snaps during any winner-loser day scrimmages that were open to us in the media.
Susceptible to Change or Set in Stone: Set in Stone.
Make no mistake about it, no matter how many good things Meyer says about Guiton, Miller is his clear-cut starter heading into the fall. As Meyer so elegantly put it, he has “a frickin’ dude” at quarterback, and it’s not Guiton.
Only an injury, or off-the-field incident, would cause someone other than Miller to get the start on opening day against Miami (Ohio), but that doesn’t mean Guiton won’t see some snaps against the Redhawks.
It’s clear the Buckeyes want to get two quarterbacks ready to play, so they can avoid what happened last year — first at Miami (Fla.) and then at Nebraska. Guiton needs to be on high alert, as Meyer wants his backups tuned in to everything happening on the field so they can be ready to step in at a moment’s notice.
Meyer did not recruit any of the quarterbacks on Ohio State’s current roster. His first quarterback will come in next year, when J.T. Barrett arrives as a part of the 2013 recruiting class.
Meyer did, however, walk into an ideal situation at the most critical position in football. He has a star-in-the-making under center in sophomore Braxton Miller. Year No. 1 was probably not what Meyer would have liked to do with Miller in order to set him up for success over the next three seasons, but he is perfectly suited to run Meyer’s spread attack.
We don’t know how well Guiton would fair if he had to step in and run the offense, but they felt comfortable enough with him during the spring that they didn’t even bother to get Cardale Jones ready to play.
They only have time to get two guys ready to play, and right now that is Miller and Guiton. That could mean a redshirt is coming for Jones, which would make sense if Meyer and Herman like him as a potential future starter. The Buckeyes have a pair of veteran walk-ons in Justin Siems and Ross Oltorik, who can also play linebacker, but if this team has to play a No. 3 quarterback this season, they are already in trouble.
Urban's take (on Braxton Miller): “I got the sense when I got here that he was kind of a cool guy ... ‘I'm going to go lift weights and take care of my business,’ as opposed to, no, you're going to finish first in every drill, you're going to be the first one in the (coach's) office, you're going to do extra work, ask for (film) cut-ups of spring practice, and really push yourself to be the best.
“He's doing that now.”
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