COLUMBUS – The most anticipated part of the 2021 Ohio State Spring Game: the quarterback competition on center stage. Ohio State fans got a glimpse of its next starting quarterback on Saturday at the spring game.
Ohio State has to replace Justin Fields at quarterback and while it has a talented quarterback room to choose from, the players are young and they lack experience.
Redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud had the edge up on redshirt freshman Jack Miller III in spring camp and was viewed as the frontrunner. But true freshman Kyle McCord is also in the mix to compete for the starting job.
On Saturday at the spring game, Stroud, Miller, and McCord switched teams and took turns leading series at quarterback. It’s safe to say that Ohio State has options.
For head coach Ryan Day, the spring game was just another step in the process and the spring game showed what he has been seeing all throughout spring ball; some good and some not so good.
“All learning,” Day said. “You can tell when you watch there’s flashes here and there and then there’s learning opportunities. The more these guys can prepare and work in the film room and just grind in the meeting rooms, the better they are going to prepare to be ready for those moments.”
But for many, the spring game did nothing but confirm Stroud’s status as the man to beat.
Stroud was impressive in the first half, throwing four passes for over 60 yards. He was 4-for-4 for 65 yards on his first drive and that featured a 40 yard deep ball to senior wide receiver Chris Olave.
At halftime, Stroud was 11-of-15 for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game 16-of-22 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Miller had some challenges early on, but showed flashes of his ability to make plays.
At halftime, Miller was 12-of-23 for 100 yards and one interception. In the opening drive of the game, Miller was moving the ball well down the field in 10-yard passes. But right at the end zone his pass was intercepted by redshirt freshman cornerback Ryan Watts. He was 6-for-9 for 51 yards on the first drive.
On his second series, Miller threw three straight incompletions and defensive end Noah Potter knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
In the second half Miller was connecting with freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson, completing a 12-yard pass then another 2-yard pass.
Miller finished the game 17-of-30 for 128 yards and one interception.
McCord showed that he learned a lot from when he enrolled early in the program in January. Having to make up for the additional year Stroud and Miller had on him, McCord came out to play on Saturday.
McCord’s first pass of the game was a 55-yard deep ball to junior wideout Garrett Wilson in double coverage. His next passes featured an incompletion and an overthrown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He was then sacked and fumbled but recovered the ball. But at halftime, Kyle McCord was 9-of-13 for 130 yards and one touchdown.
McCord completed his second touchdown pass of the day from 12 yards out to redshirt freshman tight end Joe Royer. McCord also completed a 15-yard pass to Njigba on that drive.
McCord finished the game 12-of-17 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. He had the most passing yards of all the quarterbacks.
Senior walk-on quarterback Jagger LaRoe also saw some action in the final quarter and put on a show. He gave Buckeye Nation and the Ohio State coaches a reminder to not count him out just yet.
LaRoe threw a 13-yard pass to senior receiver Austin Kutscher then completed another pass to Kutscher for 30 yards that resulted in a first down. On the next play, he threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Sam Wiglusz to end the spring game. He racked up 75 yards and a touchdown on just five of six pass attempts.
While the spring game added to each players’ portfolio, the quarterback competition remains a competition heading into summer workouts and fall camp.
“They’ve learned a lot,” Day said. “But now the race is on over the next few months to figure out who can make the next stride so that they are further along. Spring’s been good. There has been a lot of progress made across the board but still a long way to go before we play against Minnesota.”