Backups Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett Are Getting All the Snaps They Could Want

By Kyle Rowland on March 27, 2014 at 9:15a

Through six practices, all Urban Meyer and Tom Herman can do is watch and evaluate Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. There’s one giant name missing from that conversation: Braxton Miller.

Jones and Barrett remain the head honchos due to Miller’s offseason shoulder surgery. And it’s Jones, somewhat surprisingly, that’s kept the upper hand on the backup quarterback derby. It’s no doubt an open competition. But many believed Barrett would seize the opportunity and distance himself. Nothing of the sort has happened.

“I think it’s telling that through six practices, Cardale Jones is still getting the majority of the reps with the ones,” Herman said Tuesday. “To say that he’s head and shoulders in front or has taken a step forward, I don’t know that that would be accurate. But he hasn’t done anything to not deserve to take those reps.”

Jones, a redshirt sophomore by way of Glenville and Fork Union Military Academy, is a 6-foot-5, 250-pound mass of athleticism equipped with the strongest arm on the team. There aren’t visions of starting this season, though.

Both quarterbacks understand that Miller’s post is protected until he returns in August. If Kenny Guiton couldn’t swipe away the starting job, Jones and Barrett have zero chance.

But the duo’s been handed an opportunity few backups receive – 15 practices at the control’s of one of the nation’s most efficient offenses all with Meyer and Herman observing. It’s not only a jumpstart on life without Miller, which is just one year away. It also serves as a period of immense growth for both Jones and Barrett.

“I tell those two guys all the time, ‘Just be you,’” Herman said. “Their strengths are so different. J.T. gets paid a scholarship to make great decisions, to get the ball out of his hands and be accurate. Cardale is 6-5, 250 and can throw it through a wall. Use the talents you have and we’ll develop the portions of your game that need to be developed.”

In Saturday’s scrimmage, the first winner-loser day of the spring, the defense walked off the field as victors, as neither Jones nor Barrett distinguished himself. In limited appearances in front of the media, Jones has dealt with accuracy issues while Barrett’s displayed happy feet in the pocket.

“Everything about spring ball is a learning experience. These guys are doing that each and every rep they take.”– Tom Herman

Herman chalked up Saturday’s issues to inexperience and being edgy with a large audience watching. The alarm bells won’t be sounding anytime soon. 

“It was, ‘This is my scrimmage on a winner-loser day running as the quarterback with the first offense at The Ohio State University, and I’m nervous as hell,’” Herman said. “It showed. They weren’t real happy with me. I told them they played like – I used a couple of words than can’t be printed. They got upset, and they should be. But not at me, at themselves for not demonstrating poise and confidence they had shown in the first four practices.”

The man who will take close to 100 percent of Ohio State’s snaps this season continues to be a spectator. Miller does so standing behind the offense with a camera strapped to his hat – “Braxton Cam,” as Herman calls it – and a microphone.

Practices are spent taking mental and verbal reps. Miller explains the defenses and how the offense should operate. When practice ends, the videotapes are reviewed.

“He needs those reps,” Meyer said. “What can you do? He’s doing everything we ask of him.”

Herman admitted it’s frustrating to not have Miller in action, but moping solves nothing. The coaches are preparing him for the future – this coming season and beyond. Developing without being on the field comes from being observant, and the goal in regards to Miller is to expand his football vocabulary.

Being elite in the NFL isn’t simply having an accurate arm and mobile legs. Quarterbacks must be well versed in the terminology and level of communication. It’s all becoming part of Miller’s vernacular. When August arrives, he could be tagged with Guiton’s “Coach” nickname.

“Braxton has always been football smart,” Herman said. “You don’t get to do the things he does on a football field without it. Speaking the language, like a coach, was foreign to him. We’re trying to develop that as much as possible.”

In-game improvement is always possible, but Miller averaged 264.5 yards per game last year, accumulating more than 3,000 yards of offensive. That was 44 percent of Ohio State’s output. And that came while missing three games with an injury.

Understand why Jones and Barrett’s practice time is so valuable?

“Everything about spring ball is a learning experience,” Herman said. “These guys are doing that each and every rep they take.”


Comments Show All Comments

osu07asu10's picture

Jones, a redshirt junior by way of Glenville and Fork Union Military Academy

Jones is going to be a redshirt sophomore, no?

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The 0 is silent.

+4 HS
JakeBuckeye's picture

I thought this as well.

The official team site's roster lists him as a freshman (this is from last year), so that would make him a sophomore eligibility wise next year.

+1 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

My apologies for that. Thanks for catching. 

FitzBuck's picture

I wish we could see Braxton breaking down the D to see how much he has grown in his decision making.  Here's hoping this injury helps his development more than participating in spring ball.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

seafus26's picture

Fourth try (season) is the charm. Hopefully.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks Kyle.  I would like to see whoever wins the backup job get some time with the first team on game day before we go into conference play.  Nothing like experiences for down the road just in case.

I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but I'm one of the most colorful.

Ahh Saturday's picture

If history is any guide, one of these guys will be asked to come in and win a game for the Buckeyes this year.  Whoever it is, I hope he's up to the task.

+4 HS
Barnsey69's picture

When Braxton gets his bell rung, and he will, we need one of these guys to step in and produce. These reps are invaluable in my opinion. And what they are doing with Braxton right now is awesome! That has got to help his understanding of the game, and I cannot wait to see him running the offense this fall.

Go Bucks!

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+2 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

uh, Braxton didn't get his bell rung last year. So why are you so confident "he will"?

Braxton went out with an MCL early last year and had shoulder issues in the Orange bowl, but he didn't have his bell rung! and the MCL was kind of a freak play.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

bedheadjc's picture

Any chance that BraxtonCam is not only to see where and what he is looking at, but to make sure he's paying attention during practice? (Insert "Wink" emoticon here).

+1 HS
Buckeye06's picture

It seems that Jones is the clear favorite for this spot.  I honestly thought it would be a much closer competition (maybe based on the talk around here and the love for the new guy always).  Jones seems to have a firm lead, and the coaching staff seems to like what he's bringing

+1 HS
DMcDougal24's picture

I don't know if this makes sense.. But I feel more comfortable with Jones as the backup quarterback with Braxton here and more comfortable with Barrett starting when Braxton goes. Jones is the ideal backup QB imo. 

+1 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

I think the key characteristic of a successful back up QB is poise.  Know the offense and your role in it, and don't get rattled by coming in cold off the bench.  I think one of the things that made Kenny G such a great back up was that he knew Braxton was the starter.  He wasn't out there to win the starting job; he was out there to win the game.  My fear with both Jones and Barrett is that they'll look at any PT next season as an audition and possibly push things a bit in order to impress.

+4 HS
seafus26's picture

I could see them vying for future starting position involuntarily. So I agree with that. I also believe Guiton new his spot, but I don't think he agreed with it. He was just the good soldier and didn't say anything.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

whobdis's picture

Frankly the backup qb position is making me's a given that Braxton will be out at some point and it's hard have KG like confidence in these guys. To be honest..if there has been one recruiting concern with Meyer it's been QB. Frankly I was shocked so we had so many misses at qb last year. One would think a qb would love to be under Urban. Collier may work out but everyone knows he's a project and could just as easily be a miss than a hit.

-2 HS
Buckeye06's picture

Hard to get top notch QBs in todays college football.  Redshirt frosh are winning the Heisman and no one wants to wait 2-3 years to play.  No one wanted to be behind Braxton for 2-3 years back in 2012, so we had kind of nothing til a couple years ago, and we brought in a top DT guy again who thankfully had a RS, so now we have 3 qbs who all have ability.  Add in the fact that Gibson may be a buckeye, and we will have a lot of really talented guys when Braxton leaves


+1 HS
seafus26's picture

Redshirt frosh QBs are winning heismans. TX Tech was forced to start the season with a true freshman walk on and the ball barely touched the ground all year (bet against them and lost). Yet, we're waiting on our cold weather HS QB 4 years later, with majority of starting reps, from the beginning, to develope. Hmmmm. I'm not saying he shouldn't be a QB. We've been stacked at RB and need him on the field too, but geesh...

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

okiebuck's picture

A true freshman walk on who played in the same system in HS in Austin; I think he won at least one maybe two State Titles in Texas. Another kid who Mack Brown was asleep at the wheel on.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Hovenaut's picture

All good - love reading about guys stepping up and raising the bar competitively - this will benefit both Jones, JT and the team when the time comes (A.B. - after Braxton).

+1 HS
Jbucks's picture

“It showed. They weren’t real happy with me. I told them they played like – I used a couple of words than can’t be printed. 

Sounds like theyre having troubles and growing pains as expected but with the 2 QB's struggling, has Collier seen any PT?

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

GVerrilli92's picture

Jones reminds me a lot of Jamarcus Russell. He's the polar opposite type of mobile QB as Brax, but I think he could be just as effective at running the offense. The WRs are key to Cardale's development as they need great hands to handle his arm strength. Assuming we have this, he can be insanely productive. He might also be the better QB for a "true" pocket, because ala TP he must be very hard to bring down.

As far as the running game with life after Brax, I think Cardale would help us get out of our own way. Braxton's versatility creates the tendency for our staff to lean on his ability and in doing so makes us very predictable. Let's get a couple of 3rd down flash screens to Dontre out there, about 12 a game would be nice.

All of that being said, Braxton for Heisman 2014. 

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+2 HS
okiebuck's picture

Heck with the Heisman; I want the new damm NC Trophy!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

+2 HS
TossTrap's picture

Backup QB will simply be decided by who is the better decision maker. Jones is leading only because he has enough experience to know that he can't beat the coverage with his arm alone.

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

sb97's picture

Its great to hear that Jones is getting his shot.  A lot of us were down on him after that stupid twitter comment and it is so easy to overlook a guy like him that has been largely out of the spotlight for the past 3 years (Except his twitter account of course). 

Horvath22's picture

Thanks, Kyle, for keeping us up-to-date.


DoubleB's picture

Great write up Kyle, love hearing about the development of the young guys.


DC-town's picture

It's early, we'll see how these guys fair in the spring game- I don't think either is 'struggling', but they're playing like second year guys-

The guy that doesn't hold the ball too Lon and turn it over is a fine back-up

'Piss excellence' -RB

Toilrt Paper's picture

Apparently Barrett isn't the talent he was thought to be when he was recruited..

-5 HS
tussey's picture

slow your roll.  Jones has been here longer and if you actually read the comment, Herman says that Jones hasn't done anything to lose the job, and at the same time he hasn't separated himself either.  

Dayton Buckeye's picture

Jones is huge QB.  I would assume he is very hard to take down in the pocket and can punish D backs in the run game.  If Herman can develop him as a passer he could have a nice career.  Barrett is still very young. I would not count him out yet.

+1 HS
DannyBeane's picture

Jones is so big he can almost get a first down just by falling forward.

+2 HS
TraptnMI's picture

It's only obvious Tom is a little bias, and should be considering he recruited JT to be his guy, when Tom said of JT that he was brought in on scholy to be a smart decision maker, get the ball out quickly and be accurate.  Comment on Jones is he apparently is a Neanderthal that can throw a football through a wall. Just from those comments, wouldn't you think Barrett would have the lead for the backup role. If Cardale is so inaccurate, what is it that has Jones taking most of the reps with the ones? I love a good mystery. Keep shining Cardale. I may be a little bias as well.

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "

BuckeyeJAK's picture

It will most likely be this season one of them starts given Brax's health history

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