2014 Spring Positional Recap: Quarterback
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It wasn't an ideal spring for the Ohio State quarterbacks, at least where starter Braxton Miller is concerned. Looking to sand a few rough edges, offseason shoulder surgery kept Miller off the field, forcing him instead to work on the mental side of the game.
Still, it would be foolish to expect quarterbacks coach Tom Herman to not get the most out of Miller in terms of what the senior was actually able to do. Herman kept the senior engaged, which also showed Miller's maturity.
Without Miller on the field, the focus turned to finding his backup, and both Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett got more work than they ever would have had Miller been healthy.
Finding a capable backup quarterback was an important task for the Buckeyes this season, but considering Miller's history with injuries, finding a "capable" backup is just the first step. The next step is getting that quarterback ready to be a successful signal caller on the field.
Returning Starter: Braxton Miller (6-2 215, Sr.)
Miller spent the spring wearing a camera and taking mental notes while watching Jones and Barrett take all of his snaps. He didn't throw any passes, but went through the progressions just the same. It wasn't the preferred mode of practice for Herman, but they did what they could.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"Is it frustrating? Yes," Herman said. "But I think if you dwell on what you can't do with him, you don't do justice to the things that we're trying to do with him for him to improve his game."
Miller did plenty of work this spring, but once he is back and able to throw again in the coming month or so, he will need to ramp up the physical aspect of his progress. If he doesn't, then all of the work the coaches put in with him this spring would be somewhat wasted.
"If he doesn't have a good summer it will cost him a lot, he'll be a very average player," head coach Urban Meyer said.
"I think he understands his weaknesses -- his verbal skills and keeping his eyes on the secondary. The good thing is you can do that without, it's obviously better if you throw, but you saw him use every snap, watch things, he was engaged. He's got a lot riding on this now. If he doesn't fix this it's a different spot than he wants to be in."
Herman and Meyer have talked about Miller's ceiling since their arrival. They are closer than they have ever been, but they were delayed by the shoulder surgery. The hope is that the work they put in this spring will lay the foundation for the final touches this fall.
Regardless of the unfinished product that he may be, there are still few players more explosive and productive than Miller in the nation. Let's not forget that we are still talking about the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
Others Returning: Cardale Jones (6-5 250, rSo.), J.T. Barrett (6-1 225, rFr.)
The quarterback battle between Jones and Barrett was one of the bigger stories of the spring, though it was never really a battle as both players stayed in their own lanes.
In Braxton Miller's absence, Jones stayed with the ones throughout, earning the praise of his coaches and teammates in the process. When the media was able to see him throw, however, he had some accuracy issues. Tom Herman, who has been Jones's biggest supporter this spring, chalked it up to nerves.
"It was a 'This is my first scrimmage on winner/loser day running as the quarterback with the first offense at The Ohio State University and I'm nervous as hell.'," he said. "It showed."
Jones, despite being perhaps the largest Ohio State quarterback of all time, is also pretty mobile, and showed an ability to escape pressure. He didn't run just to run, however, and much preferred to stay in the pocket.
Barrett, meanwhile, showed some playmaking ability on the move, both running and keeping passing plays alive. He's not the speed guy that Miller is, but he's mobile enough to squeeze through the middle of the field on a keeper and pick up 20 yards here and there.
Like Jones, Barrett had some trouble with downfield accuracy, but had good moments on the shorter throws. His accuracy is his strong suit, and that's the area that Herman wanted the redshirt freshman focused on this spring.
J. T. Barrett
Photo by Jim Davidson
"I told J.T. that everybody kind of gets paid to do different things in my room," Herman explained.
"'J.T. you don't get paid to run 4.3 like Braxton, or get paid to be 6-foot-5 like Cardale, you get paid to be accurate, so be accurate. That's the only thing you've got to do, make great decisions and be accurate.'"
Both quarterbacks showed an ability to move the ball this spring, and they did it while wearing a black no-contact jersey. Once they become live, things will become easier for them. There are some issues to tighten up for sure, but both players showed this spring that they are worthy of seeing the field this season.
Newcomers: Stephen Collier (6-3 215, Fr.)
Stephen Collier enrolled in the winter, which means that he was able to participate in spring practice. His participation, however, was mainly limited to drills, as most of the scrimmage snaps went to Jones and Barrett.
Despite not getting many reps, Collier worked hard, and could even be seen spending time working on his own after practice. Herman was worried that Collier's lack of reps would discourage the freshman, so he talked to him about it early in the spring.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"His head is swimming," Herman said. "He'll be fine. He gets very limited reps and rightfully so. I talked to him after practice today, he said, 'Coach, there's no way. I wouldn't know my left from my right. This is fine. This is fine. I'm sitting back here and I'm watching.' But he does well in the drills and all of that stuff, he'll be just fine. He's a high school senior."
Collier would be best suited to redshirt this season so that he can save his best four years for the field. With three quarterbacks ahead of him, there's just no need for him right now.
Braxton Miller (6-2 215, Sr.)
Cardale Jones (6-5 250, rSo.)
J.T. Barrett (6-1 225, rFr.)
Stephen Collier (6-3 215, Fr.)
Spring's Unanswered Questions for the Buckeye Offense
Sideline Time Good Time for Miller
Cardale Jones: 'I Probably Should Have Been Out of Here'
Taking Stock: Thoughts on OSU's Offense at the Midway Point of Spring
Miller Likes OSU's New High-Powered Arsenal
Jones and Barrett 'Like Picking 1A and 1B' Right Now
Miller Won't Be Taking Snaps, But Won't Be Taking It Easy Either
Meyer, Herman Happy to Have Collier
Both Coach and Player Looking to Make Braxton Miller a Finished Product
Barrett Ready to Compete for Backup QB Position
Jones Will Get First Crack at Backup QB Position
OSU Spring Forecast: Quarterback
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