Cardale Jones is Ohio State's starting quarterback. Urban Meyer has made that very clear.
But with the Buckeyes struggling on offense in certain parts of the game — turnovers, third-down conversions and red zone efficiency to name a few — the Ohio State head coach offered an interesting response when asked Monday about the possibility of going to Jones' backup, J.T. Barrett, in one of those situations: when the Buckeyes get inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
"We've thought about it; we've had that conversation," Meyer said. "At this time, we haven't made any decisions on that right now."
Ohio State was 2 for 3 in the red zone in Saturday's 34-27 survival at Indiana, but the Buckeyes didn't get touchdowns on any of those trips. That's been the biggest issue with Ohio State's struggles thus far when they get inside the opponent's 20-yard line, though, it has failed to get the ball into the end zone at quite an alarming rate.
The Buckeyes rank 12th in the Big Ten and are 121st nationally in red-zone touchdown percentage as they've crossed the goal line just 37.5 percent of the time (six touchdowns in 16 tries).
Those struggles have been a combination of things that's held Ohio State, Meyer said.
"Turnovers and penalties. Ezekiel Elliott goes into the end zone, we get a call-back, and I think we missed a field goal on that one," Meyer said. It's not just one problem, it's a variety of problems."
Added starting left guard Billy Price: "As we look at our offense we’re a very explosive offense and if we’re given a confined space it makes things difficult. But I think in the red zone specifically there was a couple plays where it was just one thing. We missed one thing or don’t get the best block on one thing and that kind of confines us a little bit. I think it’s just we have to continue to better execute our offense and take care of what our responsibilities are and we’ll produce better.”
Last year, with Barrett as the starter for the majority of the season, Ohio State finished the year ranked 13th in the country in red zone touchdown percentage, getting into the end zone 71.6 percent of the time — nearly double its current rate.
As noted above, there's plenty of factors that go into this type of thing: Execution, play calling and flow of game just to name a few. But the fact of the matter is the Buckeyes have been pretty bad through the first five games when they've gotten close to the opponent's end zone.
It can be a dicey situation for Ohio State to change quarterbacks during a red zone situation, but Meyer's answer when posed the question was certainly an interesting one.