Embarrassment of Riches: Breaking Down Ohio State’s QB Situation

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes are about to find out first-hand whether or not the cliché “there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing” is a true statement. Barring any unforeseen roster movement, Ohio State will be going into spring practices facing one of the more unique quarterback controversies in college football history.

There will be three players competing for the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback job this spring and fall, and all three of them have accomplished enough to be considered Heisman Trophy contenders in 2015. The problem is, the field is only big enough for one of them at a time. Not many college football coaches are going to commiserate with Meyer, who has to decide on a starting quarterback from a group of players that includes the guy who just led his team to the CFP National Championship, the guy who was the 2014 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and the guy who was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

It’s safe to say that all three players in question would start for nearly every other team in the country, but the fact remains, one of them will be the starter, one will be the backup, and unfortunately, one of them will be the third-stringer for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

All three quarterbacks bring a lot to the table. Braxton Miller has an edge in experience, J.T. Barrett turned in the best season by a quarterback in school history, and Cardale Jones led OSU to the eighth national title in program history. So, who is the best fit to lead the Buckeyes in 2015? You can make a strong case for all three.

Here is an in-depth look at the three quarterbacks set to compete for the starting quarterback job at Ohio State in 2015.

All statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Cardale Jones

Career Record as a Starter: 3-0

Key Stats:

  • 863 passing yards
  • 7 touchdown passes
  • 2 interceptions
  • 9.2 yards per pass attempt
  • 60.6% completion percentage
  • 158.1 quarterback rating
  • 424 rushing yards
  • 2 rushing touchdowns

Notable Accomplishments:

  • Led Ohio State to a victory in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game
  • Led Ohio State to a victory in the 2014 Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff game
  • Led Ohio State to a victory in the 2014 CFP National Championship Game

Outside of possibly Alex Smith at Utah, Meyer has never had a quarterback with the throwing ability of Jones. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder out of Cleveland, Ohio, is as physically imposing as a quarterback can get. Jones is the best passer out of the three quarterbacks, and for that fact alone, he is the best NFL prospect in the group. He has also proven that he has the ability to make plays with his feet, and is incredibly hard to bring down inside and outside of the pocket. With a 3-0 record in big-time games, Jones has clearly proven that he is more than capable of handling the big stage.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

J.T. Barrett

Career Record as a Starter: 11-1

Key Stats:

  • 2,834 passing yards
  • 34 touchdown passes
  • 10 interceptions
  • 9.0 yards per pass attempt
  • 64.6% completion percentage
  • 169.8 quarterback rating
  • 938 rushing yards
  • 11 rushing touchdowns

Notable Accomplishments:

  • 1st-team All Big Ten (2014)
  • OSU record 45 total touchdowns in 2014
  • 3rd-team AP All-American (2014)
  • Finished 5th in Heisman Trophy voting (2014)

Barrett stepped in after an injury to Braxton Miller in training camp, and went on to have the best regular season by a quarterback in Ohio State football history. He suffered a broken ankle in the Buckeyes’ regular season finale against Michigan, which opened the door for Cardale Jones to step in. Barrett is a true dual-threat quarterback and has a skillset that’s tailor-made for head coach Urban Meyer’s offensive attack. He is not quite the thrower that Jones is, but he is a better runner, and let’s not forget, Ohio State would have never had an 11-1 record nor would they have been able to make a championship run without the stellar play of Barrett in 2014.

It appeared that Barrett had mixed emotions following the Buckeyes’ CFP National Championship game win over Oregon, but the 2014 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year has vowed to return to Ohio State and compete for the starting job in 2015.

 

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Braxton Miller

Career Record as a Starter: 28-8

Key Stats:

  • 5,292 passing yards
  • 52 touchdown passes
  • 17 interceptions
  • 7.9 yards per pass attempt
  • 59.3% completion percentage
  • 146.7 quarterback rating
  • 3,054 rushing yards
  • 34 rushing touchdowns

Notable Accomplishments:

  • Davey O’Brien Award finalist (2012)
  • 2-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2012, 2013)
  • 2-time 1st-team All Big Ten

As odd as this may sound, Miller may be the odd man out of this quarterback competition. Rumors began circulating about Miller transferring following the emergence of J.T. Barrett, and only grew more rampant with the surfacing of Cardale Jones. Miller has already had one of the best careers by a quarterback in Ohio State history, but the duo of Barrett and Jones combined with his injury history may be spelling the end of Miller’s reign as the starting quarterback in Columbus.

With that being said, Miller has been one of the best players in college football since becoming the Buckeyes’ full-time starter in 2012. He may be the best runner of the three, but there is no denying that he lacks the throwing ability of Jones and Barrett. His experience and veteran status in the locker room are factors working in Miller’s favor, but at this point, he seems like a long shot to regain his status as the team’s starter.