Monday, 19 October 2015

Ohio State football: Does it matter to Urban Meyer if he plays one quarterback or two?

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The coaches are tired of talking about it, but they sure aren't tired of changing it. Every week the quarterback context at Ohio State switches (maybe evolves would make it sound more like a plan) and every week we ask for an explanation that may not be valid by the time Monday hits.
Cardale Jones has started all seven games, yet what has happened after that each game been all over the quarterback map.
J.T. Barrett has relieved in basically mopup duty (Virginia Tech, Western Michigan).
He's come in during the second quarter and seen Jones go back out to start the second half. (Hawaii).
He's come in during the second quarter and then stayed in and played the whole second half. (Northern Illinois).
He's played not at all (Indiana), as the redzone quarterback (Maryland) and now as the redzone quarterback and more, finishing the game Saturday after taking full control in the third and fourth quarter against Penn State.
Ohio State wins, we ask what this latest incarnation of the QB dance means there's some vibe from the people making the decisions wondering why everyone cares so much. Then the Buckeyes go on to their next week, still the No. 1 team in the nation, still with no final answer at the most important position on the field.
Do the coaches care? Do they want this thing settled once and for all? Or could a new quarterback twist work each week?
The Buckeyes haven't dominated every game, but the offense has looked better the last two weeks, so does Urban Meyer care if he starts the game with one quarterback and finishes with another?
"Of course I care. But the job is to go win a game. And we won. We beat a very good team by, what was it, 28 points. Very good win. Of course I care," Meyer said after Saturday's 38-10 win over Penn State, seizing on my use of the word "care" to make a clear case that the best interests of his individual players matter to him greatly.
That's one point. The other is the "whatever it takes to win" point and the idea that "whatever" is 7-0.
"Absolutely. Whatever it takes to win. I don't know - someone else should be standing here if there's some other purpose of our job," Meyer said. "First of all, I care about these players. And you try to win a game at whatever cost. However you can do it. And the offensive job is to secure the ball, limit the turnovers. That's two games that (we) are six for six in the redzone. So I'm very extremely pleased with this.
"And I want to make sure that this idea, (we) care big time about these guys because, like I said, there's a lot of people in that locker room that are the very invested and have done a lot of things. And I do care, but our job is to go win."
Th real question is whether settling the quarterback position is a top priority in the QB evaluation this week. Would Meyer start Barrett for the first time against Rutgers next week because in game eight, he now thinks a change may lead him toward a final solution?
Or is the Saturday plan fine? Maybe even good? Maybe even better than one quarterback?
If Jones is playing well, then great, Barrett does the redzone plays to keep the quarterback run game alive and otherwise it's the Cardale show. If Jones isn't sharp, then the redzone gradually expands to all 100 yards, but it's not a big deal because Barrett already knew he was going to play and had been playing. So it's not a shock, just an expansion.
It feels like the people on the outside want a final answer. Maybe the people on the inside are fine with the answer being that the answer will always be open to change.
"We've very aware of it," offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said, asked whether playing one or two quarterbacks matters. "The number one job we have is to win football games. Whoever can help us to do that at the time - at the time - is what we'll do. And that could be if our tight end isn't hot we'll go to all wide receivers. We'll go in any direction we need to go in during a game to win a game.
"Obviously, we like Cardale a lot, so we'd like for him to play at a high level every second he's in there. Sometimes that doesn't always happen."
And when it doesn't, the Buckeyes the last two weeks have changed the plan.
Unless changing the plan was actually the plan.
Maybe settling the quarterback situation for this team won't be settling on one quarterback.
"I don't think it matters as much to us as maybe it does to you guys," Warinner said.
Maybe it's just settling in with whatever works that day.

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