After what happened for Ohio State in 2014, when J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to a national football title, nobody overlooks the importance of the backup quarterback.
So there has been heightened interest in the competition to be second in line behind Barrett this preseason camp. And the leader is … well, no one. Or if there is, the Buckeyes are keeping it a secret.
Coach Urban Meyer said on Monday that neither 2016 backup Joe Burrow nor redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins Jr. has pulled ahead in their battle. The Buckeyes scrimmage on Saturday, and Meyer said that could play a “huge” role.
Asked what he wants to see most of all from the backups, Meyer replied, “Consistency.” But he is pleased with the progress of all the quarterbacks, including true freshman Tate Martell.
“That unit is playing very strong right now,” Meyer said.
Burrow completed 22 of 28 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns last year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the redshirt sophomore has an edge on Haskins, who probably has the best arm of the quarterbacks.
Burrow and Haskins both said Monday that they don’t know where the competition stands.
“I don’t worry about that,” Burrow said. “I let the coaches worry about that. I try to put one foot in front of the other.”
“I wouldn’t describe it as pressure,” Haskins said. “It’s been a lot of fun, listening to J.T., learning from (quarterbacks) coach (Ryan) Day, competing with Joe and Tate. Even though we compete against each other, we’re all pretty good friends.”
By all accounts, both backups have taken significant steps from last year.
“I just have a complete grasp of the offense this year,” Burrow said. “My head was still spinning last year.”
Burrow also has been trying to quicken his release, which he said got a bit long last year.
Haskins’ growth has largely been mental.
“I think I’ve improved learning the offense and being a general on the field,” he said. “Everybody knows I can throw the football, but it takes more than that to play quarterback here at Ohio State.”
Leader at right guard?
Meyer said that Malcolm Pridgeon, Branden Bowen, Demetrius Knox and Matthew Burrell continue to battle for the open spot at right guard. Meyer said a leader has emerged, but he wasn’t ready to identify him.
“We’re starting to get it solidified,” Meyer said. “I’ll probably give you something this weekend. See how it goes.”
Meyer continues to be happy with his newest recruiting class. He said “some” from the 2017 class would get their black helmet stripe removed Monday night, signifying their status as full-fledged Buckeyes. … Meyer said that the Buckeyes have begun installing some of the game plan for the Aug. 31 opener at Indiana.