Ohio State Quarterback Competition Unresolved At End of Spring And Both Kyle McCord And Devin Brown Intend to Remain in the Program

By Griffin Strom on April 15, 2023 at 5:02 pm
Kyle McCord, Devin Brown

Back in February, Ryan Day hoped to have an answer at quarterback by the conclusion of the spring game.

But now that the exhibition has transpired, Day, Corey Dennis and company seem to have just as many questions as before. Despite initially wanting to name a starter at this juncture, Day’s comments at this past Wednesday’s press conference made it clear that he didn’t intend to do so this weekend.

With Devin Brown out due to a finger injury, he didn’t have a chance for a proper head-to-head duel with Kyle McCord. And given McCord’s up-and-down performance on Saturday, he didn’t necessarily kick down any doors to announce himself as the unequivocal QB1.

So the battle wages on, unresolved at spring’s end, with plenty more to figure out once the competition resumes in the summer.

McCord remains the favorite to win the battle, but many thought a sensational spring game performance could cement that this weekend. Instead, the third-year Buckeye only threw one touchdown all day, as he needed 34 pass attempts to finish with 184 yards through the air. However, McCord’s one score showed off his potential as he hit freshman wideout Carnell Tate for a 37-yard score down the left sideline and into the end zone.

Day said McCord may have finished with more highlight plays had several top Ohio State wide receivers not been limited or out entirely for the spring game. Not to mention the play of a retooled offensive line that Day called “inconsistent” on the day.

“I think what you saw in the game was similar to what you've seen in practice. Some good things, some things that you'd like to see a little bit better. But he's growing,” Day said in his postgame press conference. “I think that the picture sometimes was clean, other times not as clean. I think Marvin only played a couple drives there and then he was out, and certainly not having Emeka and Julian and those guys.

"But you saw there was some sparks. I thought the throw to Carnell was an excellent one. But there's stuff that he wants to look to improve on. So we'll get on the film and figure out what that was. It's hard out there because there's so much going on. It's going fast because you're calling it back and forth. So overall, 15 practices, and there was improvement there.”

Although the Buckeye offense wasn’t humming in the manner that Ohio State fans remember under Stroud, McCord was happy with what he showed on Saturday. Even if he didn’t fill up the stat sheet or lead his team to victory, he said his comfortability in and understanding of the offense has increased significantly over the past few years.

“Every year, you take a step in the right direction. Whether that's spring and then to fall camp, season, I think you learn a lot along the way,” McCord said. “And I think you get out of it what you put into it. I think the more film you watch, the more reps you get, I think it just helps to take those steps. I feel pretty good, feel like I came a long way from where I was when I first got here. So I feel like I'm in a good spot right now.”

But there’s no denying that the quarterback play left a little to be desired on Saturday. In fact, that was the case all spring, at least when media members were permitted to watch multiple scrimmages during open practice viewing windows.

McCord or Brown might have some moments, but overall, the defense seemed to be a step ahead. And that was often reflected in Day’s post-practice comments about the quarterback play.

“No, that's never crossed my mind. I've always been a guy that's gonna stick to my word and stick to where I'm at."– Devin Brown on whether he's considered transferring

However, Day isn’t questioning the talent level of the quarterbacks in his room. Both top 50 overall recruits in their respective classes, Day said McCord and Brown both can make any throw required of them.

“I think Kyle and Devin both have strong arms. They can make that field throw,” Day said. “When you're playing against drop eight, and you're playing against zone coverage like that, they're gonna drop pretty hard and rely a little bit on dropback pass. Once you get into dropback pass, you're seeing those guys drop into the zones, and then you have to really negotiate the zones. I thought when we did call a couple of the play-actions and the RPO at the end there where guys are down the line of scrimmage and creating more of that run-past conflict. It opened up some more windows. 

“But I think Kyle can do all of those. We've seen them do that, where he can make all those throws, you can handle play action, you can handle RPO, you can handle dropback pass, he can make the field throws. So he definitely has the skill set.”

For McCord, who might have already felt like the rightful next starter at Ohio State after Stroud declared for the NFL draft, not leaving the spring as the definitive top guy might be slightly disheartening. But if it is, McCord isn’t saying as much. In fact, he said the fact that Day and Dennis have left the competition open-ended would only fuel both players more moving forward.

“The competition's been great. I mean, we both know what it is. But I think at the end of the day, Devin is definitely making me better,” McCord said. “And I think vice versa as well. Even though there's not a winner of the job yet, I think that benefits both of us, honestly. I think it's gonna push both of us going into fall camp, and there's still a lot of time until the season.”

Despite not getting a chance for fans to see his talents at the end of spring, Brown said the “little procedure” he had on his hand will only take about four weeks to recover from and that he “still feels good about my spring” after 11 healthy practices.

Asked if he would consider transferring out of Ohio State if he didn’t feel he’d eventually be named the starter this season, Brown was resolute.

“No, that's never crossed my mind. I've always been a guy that's gonna stick to my word and stick to where I'm at,” Brown said. “And I've always said from the beginning, I came here and I wanted to compete. And if that's not how it goes, that's how it goes. But I'm sticking around. I'm still a Buckeye, and I want to do everything I can to help his team.”

And McCord sees things the same way. So whether or not there’s a favorite in the two-man race, it appears both will be around for the long haul in 2023.

“When I committed here, I made a promise to myself that I was just gonna come here and compete,” McCord said. “Guys have come, guys can go. But at the end of the day, I think if you're confident in your work, confident in your game, you're gonna be in a good spot, regardless of who they bring in. You're at a place like Ohio State, you know they're gonna bring in the best quarterbacks, you know they're gonna bring in really good competition. And you have to earn it every single day.”

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