QBs still competing to be Ohio State's backup

Joey Kaufman
Ohio State backup quarterback Chris Chugunov attemps a pass against Florida Atlantic in the season opener. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

In each of Ohio State’s three blowout victories, Chris Chugunov replaced starting quarterback Justin Fields in garbage time.

Experience gave Chugunov an edge over Gunnar Hoak, the Buckeyes’ other backup quarterback.

“He's a little bit more familiar with the system,” quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich said.

Both passers arrived at Ohio State as graduate transfers, but Chugunov, a fifth-year senior, joined the program last season. Hoak came only a few months ago from Kentucky with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

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The early substitution pattern, though, is not a permanent one.

The depth chart has listed both Chugunov and Hoak as the backup quarterback behind Fields, and coaches said the two will continue to compete for the second spot.

“We're still working through the evaluation process and evaluating those guys on a day-to-day basis,” Yurcich said. “Each practice brings an opportunity for us to take a closer look and give those guys more reps and see who it will be over the course of a season.”

Hoak had been expected to emerge as the No. 2 quarterback, but coach Ryan Day reiterated that Hoak was still learning the offense after arriving following spring practice.

“The more Gunnar is here, the more he can learn the offense, then the more he can show what he can do,” Day said. Hoak needs to "feel comfortable with the terminology, the reads, the progressions, the protections," the coach said.

Day said repetitions in practice become more limited during the season than in preseason training camp, limiting opportunities to view Chugunov and Hoak.

Dye mentioned that the team’s bye week next month will allow for additional evaluation.

The coaching staff appeared in no rush to anoint either player as the clear-cut backup quarterback while Fields remains healthy.

“It’s in our best interest to keep two guys competing against one another,” Yurcich said, “and trying to bring out the best and making sure that we're sharpening our skills as much as we possibly can, and then getting a guy ready as well.”

Redshirt decisions

For the second straight season, players can appear in up to four games and still qualify for a redshirt.

New NCAA redshirt rules were passed last year.

The Buckeyes’ fourth game is at home Saturday against Miami University, and Day said he planned to have conversations “pretty soon” with some of the team’s freshmen about their eligibility plans.

“When in doubt, we're probably going to play them if we think they can help us this season and really create depth,” Day said. “If we think it's a situation where we're already three deep at one position and he's probably not going to get on the field other than maybe at the end of a game, then we probably won't. We'll try to be really smart about that.”

Green honored

Former Ohio State quarterback Cornelius Green is among four new inductees into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

The class of 2019 was announced Tuesday.

Green appeared in four Rose Bowl games for the Buckeyes, from 1973 to '76, and he was named MVP after a 42-21 win over USC in 1974 in which he threw for 129 yards and ran for 45 yards and a touchdown.


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