For weeks, ever since No. 1 Ohio State struggled to beat Northern Illinois, the quarterback situation for the Buckeyes has been dissected, bisected, scrutinized, analyzed, examined, studied and otherwise pored over by us so-called experts.
There was Team Jones, for those in favor of keeping starter Cardale Jones at the helm.
There was Team Barrett, for those advocating a return to J.T. Barrett behind center.
There was even Team Miller, for those wanting QB-turned-receiver Braxton Miller to return to his old position.
Scrap that last scenario because Miller is not going back to quarterback when he knows his bread and butter at the next level will be as a receiver or a scat-back/Darren Sproles kind of player.
That leaves Jones and Barrett.
How about Team Both?
Barrett clearly had the better of it Saturday night as Ohio State broke out black uniforms for the first time in the ‘Dark Night in the ‘Shoe’ promotion for the nationally televised 38-10 victory over Penn State. Barrett came in as the red zone guy in the first half when Jones had driven the team into scoring position. Three times that happened; three times Barrett came on to close the deal, sandwiching runs of five and 13 yards around an Ezekiel Elliott TD run to give OSU a 21-3 advantage at the half.
When Jones – who finished 9-for-15 for 84 yards – struggled on consecutive series in the third quarter, coach Urban Meyer turned to Barrett exclusively, and he responded with two touchdown passes in the second half to finish off the rout.
So we finally have a winner in the Great OSU QB Hunt of 2015, right?
Not so fast.
If anything, Meyer is shrewd. Seven games into the season now, and it’s doubtful he wants to continue to experiment with which quarterback is going to emerge as the “winner” of the derby. Why does there have to be a winner when there can be two winners?
Here’s one man’s opinion. To me, Cardale Jones throws the better deep ball and is the better pocket passer. J.T. Barrett is the better runner and is more explosive. The two-man starter/reliever system worked perfectly against Maryland last week and almost worked perfectly again this week until Jones struggled during that third quarter stretch, setting off more talk and more speculation.
There are running backs by committee and receivers by committee and linebackers by committee. Why can’t there be quarterbacks by committee? It’s seemingly too far along now to make a definitive choice, and the Buckeyes seem comfortable with both quarterbacks. Moreover, defenses are uncomfortable with it. Now opposing teams have to gameplan for two quarterbacks, including Barrett’s ability to turn nothing into something.
No, I think the choice is clear now – there is no choice.
Meyer should stick with both. There’s no use in disrupting over the second half of the season what he has already established in the first half. In most instances, switching quarterbacks and using two signal callers is a nightmare.
That doesn’t appear to be the case here.
Team Jones and Team Barrett can function as one.