Ohio State's quarterback battle is officially down to Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. Although coach Urban Meyer didn’t fully commit to Braxton Miller at receiver in interviews on Thursday night, all signs point to the senior playing in an all-purpose/receiver and special teams returner for the Buckeyes in 2015.
While coach Urban Meyer’s decision got a little easier with Miller moving to receiver, there’s still a huge decision to make between Jones and Barrett. Should Meyer stick with Jones? After all, Barrett wasn’t at full strength in the spring, and Jones had the opportunity to work with the first-team offense. Or should Barrett return to the starting spot? Remember, prior to his season-ending leg injury, the redshirt freshman was among the nation’s top quarterbacks.
Regardless of who starts, Ohio State’s offense is going to be among the best in the nation. However, will one quarterback see the majority of snaps? Or will the Buckeyes find a way to involve both signal-callers in game action this fall?
Here’s a quick breakdown of both quarterbacks:
Year of Eligibility: Junior
- Finished the year as Ohio State’s No. 1 quarterback after injuries to Miller and Barrett.
- Thrived under pressure by guiding Ohio State to wins in each of its last three games, including the national championship over Oregon.
- Possesses big-time arm and tough for opposing defenses to bring down at 250 pounds.
- Running back Ezekiel Elliott’s performance increased after Jones was the starting quarterback.
Year of Eligibility: Sophomore
- Placed into difficult role last year after Braxton Miller was lost due to injury and grew into one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Barrett threw for 2,834 yards and 34 scores and added 938 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
- More dynamic runner than Jones and also connected on 23 passing plays of 30 yards or more in 2014.
- Limited in spring due to leg injury but is expected to be at full strength by fall practice.
- Accurate. Completed 64.6 percent of his throws in 2014.
Who Should Take the First Snap of the Year for Ohio State?
Should Meyer stick with Jones after his impressive three-game stretch to close 2014? Or should Barrett – regarded for his leadership and dynamic play-making ability – as a redshirt freshman in 2014 – regain the starting job?
Athlon’s editors and contributors chime in with a few picks before fall camp starts for Ohio State on Aug. 10:
J.P. Scott (@TheJPScott): J.T. Barrett
The Buckeyes would not have been in position to make the College Football Playoff in 2014 without Barrett's play. The offense is designed to be run most efficiently by a player with his skill set, regardless of the success Jones had in the postseason.
Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich): J.T. Barrett
Both quarterbacks will play, especially in the early portion of the season, but look for Barrett to emerge as the starter. Not only did Barrett have an exceptional 2014 season before his injury, but Barrett may have the edge on Jones with regards to leadership that Urban Meyer wants from his quarterback.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Cardale Jones
This is a good problem for Urban Meyer. Two quarterbacks with the potential to be the best in college football or win the Heisman Trophy are vying for the starting spot this fall. I’ve gone back and forth on this question, but I would stick with Cardale Jones as the starter – at least for the opener. I think both quarterbacks make a start this year, but my guess is Jones takes the first snap against Virginia Tech.
Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB): Cardale Jones
You really cannot go wrong with either option if you are Urban Meyer, which must be nice. Even if J.T. Barrett’s ankle is in good shape and despite his experience of leading the offense in the regular season, Cardale Jones has shown what he can do with a big arm and frame against the best of the best and he certainly is not lacking in confidence.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR): Cardale Jones
J.T. Barrett didn't do anything to "lose" the starting job, but you also can't ignore what Jones did in the College Football Playoff after starting out the season as the third-string guy. The Buckeyes will be just fine at QB regardless of who starts, but the opening assignment should go to the guy who ended the season with the gig.