Can Urban Meyer Side With Theory Over Testimony in QB Battle?

Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins Ohio State Football Buckeyes


Theory versus testimony.

This is one of Urban Meyer’s core recruiting pitches. Other schools will tell recruits what they can do for them, while Ohio State shows them what they have done for so many others.

It’s theory versus testimony. Meyer can show recruits results (testimony) instead of possibilities (theory). And seeing those results — such as the impact of Real Life Wednesdays or the NFL Draft or postseason success — makes it very difficult for players to ignore.

The entire Ohio State football program operates on theory versus testimony. Theories are nice, and they will get applied here and there, but if results don’t materialize, then it’s on to something new. They work until they find theories that produce testimony.

When it comes to the ongoing quarterback competition between Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins, I believe theory and testimony will come into play here as well.

According to Meyer, neither QB separated himself from the other throughout spring camp. Heck, he even said he couldn’t tell you who the No. 3 quarterback was. Redshirt freshman Tate Martell is going to play this season, but if the Buckeyes are going to win a national title, it’s going to be with Joe Burrow or Dwayne Haskins.

I have no doubts that Martell could lead the Buckeyes to at least 10 wins this season, but the problem hasn’t been the tenth win. It’s been the 13th or 14th or 15th.

Ohio State needs the quarterback that puts them over the top and allows them to reach their full potential.

And that’s when we come back to theory versus testimony.

In Saturday’s spring game, we saw what Joe Burrow could do. He was the most consistent passer on the day, completing 15-of-22 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Haskins, meanwhile, completed 9-of-19 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Burrow was essentially twice as productive as Haskins and is also a better runner.

But this was just one practice out of 15, and just one day of information out of the three months of data they have been collecting.

Three weeks ago, even Joe Burrow knew not to put too much stock in the spring game.

“The spring game really isn’t too important,” he said. “It’s really your body of work throughout spring ball and your consistency throughout it.”

Meyer said after the game that he would meet with offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day about the quarterback situation, and then do so again this week.

They saw plenty of good and great things this spring, but there apparently wasn’t the kind of separation that they were hoping to see.

You know how the old boxing adage has it that the challenger has to convincingly beat the champ to win the title? That’s probably applicable to the Ohio State quarterback competition as well.

Joe Burrow was given the opportunity to win the job, which was what he wanted to hear from the coaches during the offseason. What he may not have known, however, was that not only would he have to outplay Dwayne Haskins, but he would also have to make the theory of Burrow as the starting quarterback more convincing than the testimony that Haskins provided back in November in Ann Arbor.

Remember the 2015 quarterback battle between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett? Jones’ testimony in the 2014 College Football Playoffs was resounding, and it was enough to keep him entrenched until further testimony came along.

Right now, Haskins is the only Ohio State quarterback with testimony, and it is triumphantly dangling around the necks of the Buckeyes in the form of yet another pair of Gold Pants.

That is powerful proof of what Haskins can do for the Buckeyes.

I believe that both Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins are future NFL quarterbacks. Heck, I think Burrow could be one-and-done if he wins the job this season. So could Haskins, for that matter.

I also believe that either quarterback can do what is necessary to beat the nation’s top defenses.

Of course, it’s just theory for Burrow, but it is testimony for Haskins. And I think that is what will make it difficult for Urban Meyer to side with Burrow.

If there are no wrong answers here, the best option for a head coach would seem to be going with the one who has proven it, even if the proof was just one half of football.

But that’s just my theory.

We’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the testimony.


38 Responses

  1. If someone as good at tracking the deep ball like Devin Smith was on this roster arm strength would be the tie breaker, but I haven’t seen testimony to that. Both the Scarlet and Gray teams seemed to respond better under Joe than Dwayne. If Urban hasn’t made up his mind yet, he may vacillate well into the season. That did not work out well with JT and Cardale, and it won’t work well with Joe and Dwayne. I would not be surpirsed to see Joe make the decision for Urban by transferring.

  2. The Patriot way, who cares about Arm strength, it’s about accuracy, Tom is the master of the accurate pass and knowing the offense and what the defense will do. Whoever brings that should be starter. Right now Haskins feels a little too close to D. Strawberry, even the misses look great but still misses-maybe closer to Stanton

  3. Worried Burrows may go to TTUN. I’m sure Numbnut would take him take him in a minute

  4. Haskins is inconsistent. Go to YouTube and watch his highlights from last year, where he played signicant time against Big Ten opponents like Maryland, Rutgers, and Illinois (I discount the Army & UNLV games as they are not quality opponents). He was not only inconsistent in completing passes but he was really bad in running read option plays. Yes, he can sling the ball and make some great throws but that is only occasionally. He needs another year of development. Joe Burrow is the guy!

  5. I feel even more certain that, as the majority here seem to prefer Burrow, Haskins should get the nod.

  6. I was bothered by Dwayne’s comments following the Spring Game. How in the world can anyone say they proved they should be a starter based on a 47% completion ratio.? Or did he mean that everything he did while the doors were shut, and the CEO meanwhile, was just pulling the wool over people’s eyes saying the competition behind those doors was too close to base a decision on?

    Dwayne is too smart a guy to think that his performance Saturday was even remotely starter worthy.

    IF what Meyer has been saying publicly about a competition being “too close to call” is true, then his comment saying that he was waiting for one guy to separate himself, take the next step, would also be true, and the latter half of that statement was accomplished by Joe. 68% completion for almost 240 yards and 3 TD’s are winning numbers. He was in command and moved the team well. 120 yards at 47% completion with 2 TD’s means you probably just had your lunch handed to you.

    So has Meyer been honest with the fans and the media in his too close to call statements? Or was Dwayne actually the clear cut front runner throughout unseen Spring ball?

    I think everyone knows how coach speak goes, especially with the Buckeyes CEO and quarterbacks, so it could be that Dwayne has performed starter worthy behind closed doors. Doesn’t change what was observable by the wider body of fans though. Saturday was a terrible audition for Dwayne. Joe on the other hand looked like a headliner.

  7. Yep. The 2 best NFL caliber quarterbacks the CEO has had…………weren’t recruited by him. Alex Smith and Cardale Jones. The one terrific QB he recruited with NFL potential was Cam Newton, and we know where Newton ended up. He doesn’t recruit true quarterbacks for the NFL, he recruits running backs who can play quarterback.

    If a quarterback can’t make all the throws that makes it tough against programs who can field equal and sometimes better talent. To this day I don’t believe the Buckeyes win the Big 10 title game OR make the playoffs with JT under center in 2014.

    I also don’t believe the Buckeyes fail to make the playoffs if Tom Herman was in charge of the offense rather than a yes man but great line coach, Ed Warinner in 2015.

    JT was easily one of College footballs greatest RPO dink and dunk quarterbacks. He was just a very poor quarterback when passes needed delivered out of the defensive box.

    What we KNOW is that Dwayne went in, in a bad situation last year against _ichigan. The difference was that _ichigan had not prepared even for a moment to play against anyone BUT JT Barrett. When a qb can make all the throws and he’s replacing a team who gameplanned an RPO qb, they don’t have time to make enough adjustments to eliminate those newly introduced skills. But we also KNOW that anytime Joe has been put in games he’s performed well. Burrow made some outstanding strikes down the field.

    Personally I think either Dwayne or Joe could lead this Buckeye offensive effectively. There’s just a broader body of actual games played in for Joe. Saturday was just a confirmation of what we already knew about Joe. He’s consistent, delivers very good passes all over the field AND he has great legs when he runs. Dwayne has shown that he too can make throws all over the field,but Saturday was a huge flop for live performance. Nobody in their right mind can possibly think a 9 – 19 day for 120 yards are good numbers. Buckeye Nation groans in horror for lack of productivity, especially when the QB passes for anything below 60% completion. Haskins passed for just a tad over 47%. Had it been a live game, CEO Meyer may have cancelled the post game presser. 47% is horrendous, not bad, but horrendous for any type of live grading.

  8. Joe has all the throws he needs, with this talented offense, to play his game, and lead us to a Championship. No turnovers take what is given to him with all the reads.

  9. How’s this sound, if nothing changes after fall camp, do Haskins for a half, Burrow for a half vs. both against Oregon State & Rutgers! That should put more light on which one to go with! IMO True game situations with lesser opponents.

    1. Jim I hear you, but with the summer practices they should see who the team responds to and pick one. If by some crazy way they are even, then rotate quarters of first game and pick one. I want a starter with Rutgers before TCU.
      My gut is still with Joe.

  10. I keep remembering that Haskins didn’t beat out Burrow and he only became the backup because of Burrow’s broken hand. Then I see the big difference in accuracy in the spring game, Haskins 47.37% vs Burrow 68.18% and Burrow looks like the better quarterback. Cardale’s three game run turned out to be fool’s gold.

  11. I think we are very fortunate to have two really good QB’s. My choice from watching the last couple years would be Joe Burrow. If you look back at the AA game last year, Haskins came in late when -ichigan was already gassed. He three one great pass that also took a great catch. Other than that he threw little five yarders that the receivers made look great.
    Haskins doesn’t seem to have the same consistency or for that matter the nice touch that we see from Burrow. I also thought that Joe showed Saturday that he can throw it down field with the best of them.
    Glad it’s not my decision, but I sure hope we keep Burrow, he’s a winner.

  12. Nicely nuanced article, Tony, and some better-than-usual comments as well for the most part.
    One thing that no one so far has touched on is the “testimony” each quarterback has provided in their interviews. In my opinion only, Burrow has handled himself in front of the media much better than Haskins has.
    For the record I think Haskins is a VERY talented quarterback and I agree that he will likely play on Sundays, but I don’t think he’s got the maturity level just yet based on his comments to the press that seem to me very centered on, “I’m the guy” and sounding like he’d ‘take his marbles and go home’ if he wasn’t. Maybe I’m hearing him wrong and whether he wins the job or not I hope I am. Burrow, in contrast sounded more ‘team-first’ in his interviews and he was candid when talking about himself but his comments also seemed much more confined to what he’d done and what he felt he needed to do rather than how he thought the coaches perceived the competition. That’s important for when the going gets tough in November and later.
    Yes, I’m on record as a Burrow fan who thinks he should get the job. But I also won’t complain a bit if Haskins gets it because the coaches see it all and I only see the tiniest of slivers of what goes on.
    I DON’T think it’s foregone that Burrow will transfer if he’s not #1 because anywhere he goes he’s still gotta beat out whomever THEIR incumbent is with coaches that don’t know him and I don’t think Coach will let him go to Harbaugh, the only one we KNOW would play him sight-unseen!

    1. Burrow is the only one talking about taking his marbles though.

      1. Yes, but Burrow is the only one who is eligible to transfer as a graduate transfer and play immediately for a Power 6 team of his choice. Burrow also has “time in grade” over Haskins, three years vs. two. In my view, they are essentially equal in ability with Burrow being more accurate, a better touch on short passes, and a better runner. Haskins has a little better arm strength on long balls.
        One thing I don’t understand is Urban’s constant touting of Martel . . .he may be a slick runner but is a terrible passer who will have a lot of balls knocked down.
        If Urban passes on Burrow, we better hope our injured incoming freshman can get healthy by fall in case Haskins gets hurt.

  13. Tony, language picking here. I think you should consider theory versus evidence, not testimony. Testimony can be biased or based on a subset of evidence and/or imagination. And it can be false. Haskins provided evidence of his ability to play well in a big game under very challenging circumstances. I believe evidence hits much harder than testimony.
    There is a theory these days on the Internet that the earth is flat. You could find people who would testify that the earth is indeed flat. However, there is overwhelming evidence that the earth is a sphere. (Or sphere-ish.)
    In physics, General Relativity is a theory, because it can never be proved. Many scientists have spoken about this theory, providing testimony, for and against. However, there have been several experiments that provided evidence that general relativity holds true. General Relativity is generally accepted as being true, but it has not been proved.

    1. Tell Meyer, it’s his saying. 🙂

  14. “Further testimony!”
    1. We can’t really use 2015 as a measuring stick as the unspoken factor of the 2014 title game run was that OSU would no longer have the services of Tom Hermann in 2015, that had probably more to do with QB play then anything else.
    2. As I agree with the basis of your argument, Burrow did not look impressive at all with much of his game time in 2017 even against lesser opponents and Haskins has prime time coverage with his performance at MI.
    3. That being said, I would love to see Urban platoon the two and interject Tate as has been suggested;
    a. They both are capable passers.
    b. They will assist in diminishing the chances of one getting injured.
    c. They provide OSU with basically a starter if the other goes down, rather than falling back on the youngster Tate.
    d. Each has their own strengths.
    f. It keeps one from transferring.

  15. Tony, you guys and those over at love to talk about the Michigan game and how it showed what Haskins can do under pressure.

    … very conveniently forgetting the Illinois debacle.

    1. He was 5-8 passing for 77 yards and a TD in a complete downpour against Illinois. He fumbled the ball when a defender put his helmet on the football. Can’t have that. I agree. But that game was a blowout and he still threw the ball well. Not sure I’d call it a debacle. The reason I’m talking about the Michigan is because I know Urban Meyer thinks about it. Ryan Day is the guy who says this is a new year and what have you done for me lately. Meyer is the one who says his gut will be involved in the decision. I think that could certainly be Burrow, and for many good reasons.

  16. Burrow hasn’t impressed me one bit, boring football that’ll get you there but not over the Top smh

    1. Haskins is slow and will get sacked and intercepted

    2. Jrock–since when is boredom or excitement the best way to pick a qb??that’s just stupid….and if you HAVE been impressed by Haskins even though Burrows has been slightly better and more consistent and a better runner to boot?? they are both worthy starters but right now–and not just because of the spring game, Burrows is the better starting option

  17. That old boxing adage went out the window with the Leonard v Hagler decision. Ray Ray ran away the entire fight and somehow ($) managed to win. As for testimony: How many QB’s has Meyer put into the League? At QB not WR. Riiiiight, some guy named Smith and then zippo. Jones v Barrett? Without Tom The QB Whisperer Herman both QBs’ stats slid and J.T. won the personality battle. Every opposing coach is telling QB recruits that to go to O State is to watch your career die. 1. Urbie does not play the best talent at QB and 2. He does not put any QB’s into the League. Until Meyer changes his philosophy of putting an individual above the team and changes his 17 year old offense there will be many 10 win seasons with no NC.

  18. Testimony is only part of the equation. Statistics are only one part of the equation. Burrow’s injury prevented him from showing what he could do in game situations. However, in the limited time he played, he did well.

  19. Burrow has earned the chance to be the starting quarterback at Ohio State. He has done everything that has been asked of him, and has shown that he is as prolific a football player as Dwayne Haskins is, if not better.
    But FUM, the coaches and the media seem enamored of Haskins ability to sling the ball 70 yard fairly accurately. My question about that is, how often during a game are you going to have that scenario given the WR’s separation issues? Sadly, Joe won’t get the chance to show he is better. I hope he transfers to a B1G school and torches the Bucks.

  20. Tony’s contention that, if named starter, Tate Martell could not win as many games as Haskins or Burrow is merely theoretical.

    1. Without question it is theoretical.

    2. Maybe “theoretical” but based on pretty strong evidence based on Martel’s performance Saturday. It was pathetic and with him we would have another year playing against 10 or 11 men in the box. We need a bona fide complete passer to keep the defenses honest and to have a shot at a national championship, and that should be our goal with the overall talent we have.

    3. but it also makes sense based upon the actual evidence so far so it’s a smart theory…no way Martell better than Burrows and Haskins at this point but should be very good down the road.

  21. You raise your own “testimony/theory” question: Cardale Jones looking like Superman in the 2014 CFP run, and yet when 2015 was all said and done, it was J.T. Barrett starting. The same could be true for Haskins and Burrow.
    I’m glad Urban is making the decisions, not writers and fans who see maybe 10% of the entire story, at that. I’d really like to see Burrow get a shot at starting, while at the same time having Haskins at the ready. Or vice versa.
    I can understand if the one not selected would transfer, but I hope neither would choose to do so, and that somehow both would have the chance to play – and shine – before the season’s over.

    1. “Remember the 2015 quarterback battle between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett? Jones’ testimony in the 2014 College Football Playoffs was resounding, and it was enough to keep him entrenched until further testimony came along.”

  22. Tough decision because Burrow leaves if he isn’t the starter but hard to ignore what Haskins did in AA last November. To me, Martell clearly the number 3 based on the spring game. If you start Burrow, you’re starting a player with only one year remaining versus Haskins with I believe three years remaining. But starting Haskins leaves you with only 2 QB’s one of which is Martell who doesn’t look ready to play yet. I guess this is why Urban got the big pay raise this year.

  23. “testimony that Haskins provided back in November in Ann Arbor.”
    This “testimony” sayes nothing about Mr. Burrow: he may have done better , the same, or worse in the Michigan game if he’d been give the opportunity.
    The best situation is to retain all three good QBs, and that only happens if Joe Burrows is the #1.

    1. Burrow is graduating early and has 2 years of eligibility left. He can also play immediately elsewhere.

  24. I’m not impressed with Haskins at this time.

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