Who Does Work for Number Two?
One of the main storylines of fall camp for the Ohio State Buckeyes is the quarterback competition behind starter J.T. Barrett. Redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow, redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins, and true freshman Tate Martell have all received reps as Urban Meyer and his offensive staff search for Barrett’s backup.
While Martell has made some plays in camp, he should be expected to redshirt, especially as Burrow and Haskins distance themselves from the rookie out of Las Vegas.
“I’d say the true backup right now is between Joe and Dwayne,” Meyer said on Monday.
What is the Buckeye head coach looking for when choosing the eventual backup?
“Consistency,” he said. “And we have a big scrimmage coming up this Saturday, and that’s going to be a huge part of it.”
Overall, however, the entire unit is playing well, which is exactly what Meyer had in mind when he brought in new quarterbacks coach Ryan Day over the offseason.
The battle will continue for at least five or six more days.
Yeah, But How Much Better?
Ohio State fans have been told about the culture change in the receivers room, which has been led by fourth-year juniors Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. While that might be all well and good, what the people want to know about is if those two guys can carry a room on the field.
People may look at Campbell and McLaurin as a pair of returning starters. But they are a pair of returning starters who combined for just 24 catches a year ago. That’s not exactly the kind of production that breeds excitement when those players are stepping into an even larger role than a year ago.
This was a topic of conversation with Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith recently. The thought being that if receivers haven’t really produced big numbers by this point, then maybe it’s just not going to happen. Smith was asked how much better Campbell and McLaurin could get, and he gave an answer which should excite Buckeye fans, even if some won’t believe it until they actually see it.
“A lot better,” he said. “The improvement from the end of fall in those two kids specifically has been night and day. It’s just constant development. It’s also kind of an, ‘Okay, it’s my time to shine.’ Here’s this opportunity. What happens with a lot of kids sometimes is they think they’re training hard, they think they’re working on their game, they think they’re acting like a pro, and then it comes time and it didn’t happen for them. And after going through that struggle of not realizing their dreams and expectations, there’s a different motivation and a different level of commitment and to training, and that’s what they’ve seen all offseason. They’ve had that.”
Three’s Good Company
Ohio State returns three linebackers with starting experience this season (though Dante Booker’s experience is just one game). The point being that the Buckeyes have three linebackers who have been slated as starters since the end of last season. Jerome Baker and Chris Worley established themselves as productive players a year ago and even more is expected of them in 2017. Booker has won a job for the second year in a row, and hopefully this year he gets to finally show everyone why.
Behind those three players, however, are seven other scholarship linebackers, and at any given time, position coach Billy Davis believes he has options who can step in.
““We’ve got a lot of solid backups,” Davis said. “We’re really three deep. We’re happy with that. Now we’ve got some guys in orange shirts and working through shoulders, so those guys aren’t getting as many reps as we would like to see to see the pure competition happen. But we believe we’re three deep at every position. They’re learning and they’re a little bit interchangeable. It’s a lot to learn and those guys are coming. As soon as everybody is healthy, we’ll have a more dynamic group.”