Ohio State is nearing the midway point of spring practice, and no front-runner has emerged in the Buckeyes’ quarterback competition.
That’s not necessarily a surprise to coach Urban Meyer.
“I anticipated what I’m seeing,” he said after the team’s sixth spring practice Monday morning. “Just when a guy starts to move, another guy catches him and maybe passes him. I can’t say who’s 1 and who’s 2.”
The battle among Dwayne Haskins Jr., Joe Burrow and Tate Martell to succeed J.T. Barrett is the biggest storyline of the spring. Haskins led the Buckeyes to a comeback win at Michigan as a redshirt freshman. Burrow was the backup in 2016 and was neck and neck with Haskins last year until he broke a bone in his throwing hand late in preseason camp. Martell earned raves as a scout-team quarterback in his first year on campus after an undefeated high school career in Las Vegas.
But none of the three has more than cameos on their resumes, which wasn’t the case in 2015 when Barrett battled with Cardale Jones, who led Ohio State in the postseason to the national championship.
Haskins was believed to have the edge entering the spring because of his heroics in the Michigan game, in which he showed a strong arm, poise and the ability to run when necessary. But Meyer indicated the battle is far from being decided and that all need to improve.
Asked if he was happy with the way his quarterbacks have performed this spring, Meyer replied, “Not necessarily. I think with the whole team, I thought we’d be further ahead right now than we are — quarterbacks and the whole team.”
The battle for the starting job could extend beyond the April 14 spring game and into preseason camp. But one complication in the equation is that Burrow is on track to graduate in the spring. If he does, he would be eligible to transfer and play immediately at his new school. Burrow said Thursday that for now he is focused solely on trying to win the Ohio State starting job.
Meyer’s views on his team’s progress were colored by his dissatisfaction with Monday’s practice.
“It wasn’t a great day in any phase,” he said. “I’ve got to figure out why.”
Part of the reason, he added, is that several key players are injured, including offensive lineman Michael Jordan, cornerback Jeffrey Okudah and hybrid back K.J. Hill. The Buckeyes are also limiting reps for proven veterans.
“It’s just a little sloppy when young players are in there that aren’t ready yet,” Meyer said.
On the offensive line, for example, the Buckeyes are still mixing and matching. Meyer said he is pleased with the development of Brady Taylor at center.
“I feel Brady Taylor is doing a very good job,” he said. “The other guys have to get better.”
That seems to be a theme.