Ryan Day: C.J. Stroud likely to be used only in emergency vs. Akron on Saturday
Quarterback C.J. Stroud will likely be used only in an emergency situation in Ohio State's game Saturday night against Akron, Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said Thursday.
Day made the announcement on his radio show on 97.1 The Fan and then discussed it further on his regularly scheduled Zoom call with reporters. He did not tip his hand about which of the backups is likely to start.
"We wanted to have some rest going into this week and try to allow him the opportunity to get stronger," Day said. "We're taking it day by day. But I think the mindset now would be to use him in an emergency-only role on Saturday. But we'll see how he's feeling today."
Stroud has said that his shoulder has been bothering him but that it was healthy enough for him to play. With Ohio State a 50-point favorite over Akron and Big Ten play ahead, the Buckeyes have decided that it would be prudent to give Stroud's shoulder extra rest.
Day said Stroud did not throw on Tuesday or Wednesday, which are the most important practices of the week.
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"I don't think C.J.'s situation is serious, but we did feel like some rest would go a long way," Day said.
Stroud, a redshirt freshman from Rancho Cucamonga, California, has completed 62.4 percent of his passes this season for 963 yards and eight touchdowns. He has thrown three interceptions.
Stroud threw for 484 yards and three scores against Oregon but struggled last week against Tulsa. He threw for only 185 yards on 15-of-25 passing and threw an ill-advised pick.
Kyle is a five-star recruit from Philadelphia's St. Joseph's Prep. Miller was a four-star prospect from Arizona in the Buckeyes' 2020 recruiting class. Neither has played this year. Miller saw brief action last year but did not throw a pass.
"I have faith in both of those guys," Day said.
Like Miller, Stroud saw limited action last year but did not throw a pass until he started this season's opener at Minnesota.
"We have young quarterbacks, and that's going to be how it works," Day said. "At some point, you've got to get them out there and let them play and learn from their mistakes.
"We just trust what we see in practice. It's all about their preparation. They're going against really good players every day in practice."
Day has said repeatedly that he expected to have to use more than one quarterback this year, comparing it to the 2014 season in which the Buckeyes rode third-stringer Cardale Jones to the national championship.
"We knew going into the season that we're going to need the whole room," he said. "We talked about that coming in, that this wasn't just going to probably be one guy, that we're going to need everybody."
Kyle McCord, Jack Miller both have practiced with starters
He said both McCord and Miller have gotten reps with the starters this week.
"We've split them pretty good across the board during the week," Day said.
He said both quarterbacks have improved since the season started, though their practice reps have been limited.
"Just being a part of the meetings, the games, seeing what happens during the week in preparation, the better we practice the better we play, how important timing is during the week — all those things add up," Day said. "Now that they've gone through a couple weeks, they see what it looks like. That's good. So now it's going to be exciting to see these guys get on the field."
He said his intention is to stick with the starter and "if the opportunity presents itself, let the other guy get a drive."
And Day left open the possibility that if the starter plays well, he could compete with Stroud with the job.
"I think everything's an evaluation, for sure," he said. "Again, this is a long season. You don't know what's coming next. All I knew for sure was that in the first week, we'd have a starter named for Minnesota, and then the season is going to go from there. So here we are. I think it's a great opportunity to get reps, and it'll be a great evaluation moving forward. Let's just get through today and see where this goes."
Day said the pain in Stroud's shoulder was something "he clearly couldn't shake."
Though he didn't completely close the door on the possibility of Stroud starting, it appears caution will prevail.
"We'll see how he's doing and how he's feeling," Day said. "Obviously, his feedback is important. If he's ready to roll, let's go. But I think rest here is probably going to be the best option over the weekend."
Day, who played quarterback at New Hampshire, knows how difficult sitting out will be for Stroud.
"If he's not able to play, that'll be very, very hard for him," he said. "He's competitive. He wants it very, very badly. No competitor wants to sit there and watch their teammates play, but we also have to be smart. We can't be reckless."
The Buckeyes have a fourth freshman quarterback, Quinn Ewers, whose recruiting ranking was even higher than the other three. Ewers enrolled in August after deciding not to play his senior season in high school, largely to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities. Shortly after arriving, Ewers sustained an injury that has limited him.
"Right now, he'd be unavailable," said Day.
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