Football

Fall Camp 2019 To Do List: QB Coach Mike Yurcich

Mike Yurcich Ohio State Buckeyes Chris Chugunov

Fall camp got underway for the Buckeyes one week ago today and every single Ohio State position coach has a mental list of things that they need to get done.

In fact, they may actually have a physical list as well.

Speculating as to what might be on each assistant coach’s list is always a fun exercise, and there are no shortages of items that will need to be addressed.

We have previously covered the to-do lists for receivers coach Brian Hartline, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, secondary coach Jeff Hafley, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, linebackers coach Al Washington, and running backs coach Tony Alford.

Up today is quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich.

The process for Yurcich has been a bit different than most quarterbacks coaches as he also spent the winter learning the very offense he was going to be teaching.

But with so many new quarterbacks on the Ohio State roster, at least the offense is fresh in Yurcich’s mind.

There is no doubt that Yurcich has taken copious amounts of notes since he arrived.

He has also maybe written down a to-do list to get done during fall camp.

This is one person’s guess as to what that list might look like.

1. Get three quarterbacks ready to play in a game.

Ryan Day was asked this week about naming a starting quarterback, but he said early on, it’s more important to get three guys ready to play. As they get Justin Fields, Gunnar Hoak, and Chris Chugunov up to speed on where the ball should go, and they get them all a large number of reps, a starter will emerge. But because there is so much inexperience at quarterback for the Buckeyes, they can’t just anoint one guy and ignore the other two.

2. Get Justin Fields ready to start.

Most people expect Justin Fields to be Ohio State’s starter this season, and with his long list of physical abilities, it is easy to imagine the possibilities. This winter, Mike Yurcich and Fields were learning the offense together, so the two of them have been shoulder to shoulder the entire way. Yurcich knows where Fields has come from and where he now stands in terms of his understanding of this offense. He also knows how much further he has to go, and knowing the end point makes the journey at little bit less mysterious. Fields gives this team the potential at quarterback that national title contenders need to have. He doesn’t need to be ready to face Michigan or Clemson by August 31, but he does need to be ready to lead the Buckeyes out onto the field against Florida Atlantic to open the season.

3. Figure out the strengths of each quarterback.

Ohio State is preparing three very different quarterbacks, which means the offense changes a bit with each guy. Actually, the coaches will tell you that the offense won’t change, but rather the plays that are called will vary. It’s semantics, but what it means is that Mike Yurcich is going to have to learn the strengths of each of his guys, so that when any of them are called upon, they can get the most out of them.

4. Figure out the weakness of each quarterback.

Along with knowing what the quarterbacks do best and are most comfortable doing, Yurcich also needs to know what his quarterbacks struggle to do. This becomes apparent during practice and film study, but also simply through conversations. It is difficult to change things too much mid-stream if the starting quarterback goes down during the game, but being able to tailor calls away from some weaknesses is a good first step. This month, Mike Yurcich is going to see a lot of good and bad. All of it will be charted and kept safely tucked away in case it ever needs to be brought out during the season.

5. Teach by asking questions.

The Socratic Method of teaching by asking and answering questions has been around for decades and it would be a good tool to use here. Learning the playbook and understanding the playbook are two different stages of the same process. The elements in each of the plays are there for a reason. The blocking scheme, the complementary routes, the timing, all of it. And if the quarterbacks don’t grasp the whys of the offense, they will be limited in their abilities to maximize their standing inside of it. Yurcich asking questions like, “Why is this the first read and what makes it effective” brings in critical thinking, which is something that all starting quarterbacks need to have. It’s not about just having the best arm, or being the best leader. Every quarterback is elevated by his understanding of what he is being asked to do, and this month the Buckeye quarterbacks need to reach their own personal new heights.

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