Even though Ohio State didn’t name a starting quarterback this spring, all indications have been that Ryan Day and the Buckeyes want to have a clear starter before the season begins.
Former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, however, isn’t certain that will be the case.
In an interview this week with On3’s JD Pickell, Herbstreit speculated that the competition between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown could continue into the Buckeyes’ first two or three games.
“I don’t think they even know, I really don’t,” Herbstreit said when asked who he thought Ohio State’s starting quarterback would be this year. “I think (Day will) go into summer camp, he’ll have those scrimmages, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they use the first two or three games to kind of let these guys maybe play it out. It’s hard to make a big decision like that from a scrimmage in the summer. It’s only fair. Like what Jim Harbaugh did last year, give a guy a half or a game, give the other guy the same thing, and then I think it’s easier to make the decision.”
If the quarterback competition actually continues into the season, that would be an indicator that neither McCord nor Brown separated himself from the other during preseason camp. It’s a scenario that can cause more problems than it solves, as evidenced by the last time Ohio State let a quarterback competition drag into the season in 2015, when J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones traded starts for much of the year.
As Herbstreit acknowledged, however, it was a blueprint that worked last year for Michigan, when Cade McNamara started the Wolverines’ season opener against Colorado State but J.J. McCarthy started Michigan’s second game against Hawaii – a move that was pre-planned before the season – and ended up leading the Wolverines to their second straight Big Ten championship as the starting quarterback for the remainder of the year.
Ohio State should have some opportunities to experiment with personnel at all positions in its first three games of the season, as the Buckeyes are a four-touchdown favorite for their season opener at Indiana and will then play what should be a pair of overmatched non-conference opponents in Youngstown State and Western Kentucky before they face their first real test of the year in Week 4 at Notre Dame.
When asked Tuesday if he had a timetable for naming a starting quarterback for this season, Ohio State quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis replied that he did not. But both Dennis and offensive coordinator Brian Hartline expressed optimism that either McCord or Brown will be able to maintain Ohio State’s high standard of quarterback play.
“At the end of the day with both of those guys, they wouldn't be at Ohio State competing for the starting job if they didn't have elite traits and elite characteristics, both of them,” Dennis said.
Herbstreit is likewise optimistic that Ohio State will continue to have an elite offense regardless of how the quarterback situation ultimately plays out.
“You got two guys that are more than capable,” Herbstreit said. “Ohio State’s been pretty spoiled at that spot with their receivers since Ryan Day has taken over. They’re going to find a way to put a lot of points on the board regardless of which guy wins it.”