Humbled Jones Continues Maturation Throughout Spring

By Mike Young on April 14, 2014 at 11:15 am

Kirk Irwin Photography


To this point, his career at Ohio State has been a punchline, but – in Cardale Jones' defense – it hasn't been because of his on-field play.

His quarterback abilities remain somewhat of a mystery, having only completed one of two career passes for three yards. The 6-foot-5-inch, 250 pound QB has shown surprisingly smooth running strides, not much unlike a former Buckeye quarterback of a similar build. 

Although he was not nearly as highly recruited, Jones shares a few, non-physical traits with Terrelle Pryor. Be it a moment of ignorance or inability to articulate what they actually mean, both had major, public stumbles early in their careers. Pryor's exploits on the field outweighed what he did off it, up until the circumstances with the NCAA forced his exit. Jones hasn't earned the opportunity to shine in a similar fashion. 

With relative inexperience, Jones isn't the ideal choice to take snaps with the first string offense. In a press conference following the spring game, he admitted he isn't ready. 

"I wouldn't say, if the season started right now, that I would be comfortable going in there," Jones said. "Basically, it's getting more mental reps so I know what I'm doing."

If Jones doesn't like what has been said about him since his infamous tweet, he hasn't had much of a chance to change the conversation. Up until this spring, fourth quarter blowouts on BTN were the only glimpses fans got of Jones. He appeared in three games last season – a 76-0 win over Florida A&M, a 63-14 victory versus Penn State and the 56-0 win at Purdue.

While he struggled throughout most of the spring game, Urban Meyer thinks it wasn't indicative of what Jones has accomplished in practice. 

"Cardale was disappointing," Meyer said. "I thought he had some misses today, but I'm not going to let that ruin his spring. He's had a good spring for us."

As our Kyle Rowland wrote a week ago, Jones has worked his way back from the brink of nearly transferring, with various coaches failing to get through to him. He and Meyer admitted to academic struggles, as the tweet might suggest.

Based on that, it's surprising to see how much locker room support Jones has gained in just the past year.

"What gives me that confidence is my coaches being hard on me and my players around me picking me up when I'm down," Jones said. "My first half was terrible but older guys, like Taylor Decker, or even young guys on defense like Joey Bosa came up to me and said 'Come on, you got it, pick us up.'"

His "terrible" first half included this perplexing stat line: 6-15 for 15 yards. That included a -12 yard passing play. The spring game showing didn't do much to boost his reputation, but he had a valid point when discussing his struggles.

"The teams are divided and [in practice] you're working with a certain group for 14 straight practices," Jones said. "Now, you got some guys who you never throw to and faces you're not used to seeing in the huddle. But, we're not going to make excuses, we still need to get better."

Jones may not possess the accuracy to complement his strong arm. He doesn't have the in-game experience, poise or ability to run the read-option like Kenny Guiton. Still, with Braxton Miller's injury history, Jones needs to be prepared to step in at any time.

Miller, himself, is doing his best to try and make a potential transition as smooth as possible. In yet another sign of growth from Jones and acceptance from his teammates, Miller is playing the role of mentor while he sits out this spring in his recovery from shoulder surgery.

"He was like another quarterback coach and he was the quarterback coach on the field," Jones said.  "A lot of the coaching off the field was done by Coach [Tom] Herman. But, Braxton was so active with us on the field, right behind us getting his mental reps." 

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