The quarterback battle for Ohio State may be the biggest story of the spring.
Can Dwayne Haskins prove this spring that he was the quarterback we caught a glimpse of against Michigan? Can Joe Burrow re-stake his claim to the position after breaking his hand last summer? And what does Tate Martell have up his cut-off sleeves after shining on the scout team last season?
Each of those options is intriguing, but none of them have any starting experience. None of them have the kind of production that eases a coach’s mind.
Despite the questions, Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer thinks he has some pretty good answers. In fact, he actually likes the answers well enough that he has bigger concerns than who is going to be behind center.
“I think I’m more stressed about center,” he said on Tuesday. “I think when you have quality players going at it, there’s no stress at all. When you worry about who is going to be your center, that’s my focus. I think we’ll be fine at quarterback. Who is it going to be, I don’t know. But I know they work really hard and I see not two, but three guys that think they should be the quarterback.”
Meyer believes he has recruited well enough at both quarterback and center, but he has seen more out of the quarterbacks at this point. This is the first time in a while that either spot is going to be handed over to an untested player, and it is a concern. Yeah, the quarterback handles the ball on every single snap, but so does the center, and he has to make line calls and block while he’s at it.
It’s a lot to ask of any player. The Buckeyes have had the two best centers in college football the last two years, and talented players before that as well. There is already a legacy at the position in Meyer’s time at Ohio State, and if the OSU offense is going to be as good as the skill that it is built with, the center needs to be more than adequate.
“So I spend more time at the positions that — I don’t know who is going to be our center,” he said. “I know we have some people that are going to go after it — Brady Taylor, Josh Myers, Matt Burrell. I just talked to Josh Alabi. Look at that kid walking around here. Great-looking player at that spot. So there’s zero stress, minimal stress when you have great players that are competing.”
But when you are still trying to decipher whether or not there is greatness there, it can provide some sleepless nights.
“It’s a lot of stress,” Meyer said. “Center is every bit important as quarterback. I don’t know if they’re great players or not. That position, that’s the apex, as we used to call it with Corey Linsley. There’s a lot of pressure on that one.”