Ohio State may be deeper than it has ever been at quarterback, but does that mean the Buckeyes have room for more than one signal caller to play this season?
J.T. Barrett enters his fourth year of starting, and just about every game this season will see him setting new Ohio State or Big Ten records. Redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow returns for his second season as Barrett’s backup, provided he can hold off redshirt freshman upstart Dwayne Haskins. True freshman Tate Martell, meanwhile, showed in the spring game what he is capable of doing with the football in his hands.
As Barrett’s backup last season, Burrow completed 22-of-28 passes (78.6%) for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Haskins closed the gap this spring to the point that Urban Meyer was non-committal on even naming a backup following camp.
So if this is as talented a group as OSU has ever had, wouldn’t it follow that more than one of them would get some snaps this season while games are still in doubt?
The Buckeyes basically invented the cornerback rotation last year, so why not get some extra snaps for the backup quarterback in 2017?
Admittedly, the quarterback rotation in 2015 didn’t work, but that was because there was no hierarchy. There wasn’t an established starter like there is now.
Provided he is playing well, there would be no reason for Barrett to look over his shoulder. There would also be no need for Burrow or Haskins to try and be something they are not.
So could we see more than one quarterback this season? We asked new Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson that very question this spring.
“I don’t know, that’s kind of hard,” he told me. “I haven’t talked to Coach (Meyer) about that. In my opinion, sometimes you get out of rhythm. I have dealt in previous years where one guy could run and one guy couldn’t. One guy could throw, one guy couldn’t. J.T.’s pretty well rounded, and those guys are too.”
Basically, there is no change-of-pace guy to put into the game to get a defense to have to adjust. The Buckeyes have a fitted view of what they want their quarterback to be. As such, there are no massive differences in characteristics that would require one to go out and one to come in.
With every other position on the football field, however, if a guy is good enough to play, they find snaps for him. Kerry Coombs would let the cornerbacks rotate eight deep if there was no drop off from one to eight. Larry Johnson would play 14 defensive linemen if they could all play at a similar level.
So what’s wrong with giving Joe Burrow or Dwayne Haskins a series in the second quarter?
“I think you like to give a guy experience, but you’re worried about getting your real guy out of rhythm,” Wilson said. “At the same time, it would be nice to bring those guys along. I haven’t discussed that with Coach. It will be interesting how we change gears. Do they keep accelerating through the summer?”
With J.T. Barrett being a fifth-year senior, getting in and out of a rhythm wouldn’t seem to be as much of a problem. But maybe it would be for the players around him. And maybe it takes Burrow or Haskins more than one series to find a similar rhythm. That then makes their one drive per game a wasted series.
Everybody wants to see the new quarterbacks. That’s just how football works. But will we? Could the Buckeyes play more than one quarterback in a game this year? From the looks of it, they certainly could.
Yes, but only if they’re up by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.