Kyle McCord's first-ever snap as a Buckeye came as a starting quarterback.
With C.J. Stroud battling a shoulder injury that has plagued him through the first three games of the season, McCord is Ohio State's starting quarterback for the Buckeyes’ fourth game of the season against the Zips on Saturday night.
McCord becomes just the fourth true freshman to start a game at quarterback for Ohio State, joining Art Schlichter, Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller.
He is one of four true freshmen starting for Ohio State against Akron along with running back TreVeyon Henderson, defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau and cornerback Denzel Burke. McCord and Henderson became the first-ever true freshman quarterback/running back tandem to start for the Buckeyes in the same game.
After not taking any snaps in Ohio State's first three games of the year, McCord is simultaneously making both his first start and his first game appearance for the Buckeyes in Saturday night's game, in which Ohio State is a heavy favorite to win.
Stroud was not listed as unavailable for Saturday's game, but Ryan Day said Thursday that Stroud would play only in an “emergency capacity” as he rests his shoulder this week.
A five-star recruit who was ranked as the No. 6 quarterback in the recruiting class of 2021, McCord beat out redshirt freshman Jack Miller to be the next man up behind Stroud. While he hasn't yet played in an actual game for Ohio State, he was impressive in the spring game – where he completed 12 of 16 passing attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns – and possesses an excellent arm that he'll now look to put on display for the Buckeyes.
Ryan Day has defended Stroud despite inconsistent play in Ohio State's first three games of the season, saying that he believes Stroud has made some great throws and that “there’s a lot of great football ahead for C.J. Stroud.” As Ohio State plays its first non-conference game of the season, though, Stroud will be watching from the sidelines while McCord gets his opportunity to show what he can do in the starting role.
Starting for the Buckeyes without having ever played a snap of college football might not be an ideal way to throw McCord into the fire, but it’s not too different a situation than the one Stroud was in before the season opener at Minnesota, as he played just eight snaps and threw no passes in 2020.
“We have young quarterbacks, and that’s gonna be how it works. At some point, you gotta get them out there and you gotta let them play, learn from their mistakes,” Day said Thursday. “And so we just trust what we see in practice. It’s all about their preparation.”
Day said Thursday that Ohio State would pick one starter for Saturday's game and have him play for the majority of the game, though he indicated that the Buckeyes would look to get Miller into the game for at least one drive. True freshman Quinn Ewers, who just arrived at Ohio State in August, is not expected to play against Akron, as Day says he has not yet gotten “enough reps to be able to prepare to play in a game right now.”