By Jim Naveau
COLUMBUS – There has been considerable discussion about how Ohio State has used quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett.
So it is no surprise to hear that at least one of those quarterbacks had a discussion of his own about it after OSU coach Urban Meyer came up with a new plan that used both of them in a 49-28 win over Maryland last Saturday.
That new arrangement brought last year’s starter, Barrett, into the game when Ohio State got inside the 20-yard line, also known as the red zone, after this year’s No. 1 QB, Jones, led the team down the field.
Defensive back Tyvis Powell, who is Jones’ roommate, said they had a talk about that change.
“He’s actually doing pretty good about that. I had a discussion with him about that and he said it was good that J.T. was able to go in for the red zone because J.T. is more of a runner than him. Cardale actually has no problem at all with doing that,” Powell said.
“It’s good to not have anyone who is selfish. If everyone cares about putting the team first, that is going to have good results. If Cardale is OK with J.T. going in for the red zone and J.T. is OK with Cardale getting us down to the red zone, that focus is real special because there are not a lot of people who can handle that.
“There are a lot of people around the country who would probably fold if they were one of the quarterbacks who wasn’t playing,” he said.
The two-quarterback plan seemed to correct one of the biggest problems for Ohio State’s offense this season – scoring inside the 20-yard line.
OSU scored six touchdowns in six trips inside the 20 against Maryland after getting only six TDs in 16 trips inside the 20 the rest of the season. Jones threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns and Barrett ran for three TDs.
OSU coach Urban Meyer said he will use the two quarterbacks the same way for the foreseeable future.
“I think so, but I’m not writing it in Sharpie yet. We’ll see how it goes,” he said as he looked ahead to Saturday night’s match-up between No. 1 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) and Penn State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) at Ohio Stadium.
“It was good for that day. Now this is a whole other challenge. I would love for Cardale to throw for 300 yards and J.T. to do that again. But this defense is probably going to have something to say about that. It’s a very good defense we’re facing,” Meyer said.
Meyer described the quarterback situation as “all good” but admitted it has been a balancing act, which has succeeded because Jones and Barrett have accepted their roles.
“It’s very touchy with the two people involved doing it, with the families involved, and I think we’re very leery of that. But I think everyone knows the answer to that,” he said.
When asked why Jones couldn’t run the same plays inside the 20-yard line that Barrett did, Meyer said, “They’re different types of runners. Cardale’s best runs, if you remember a year ago, were on scrambles. They weren’t necessarily in the quarterback run. In the quarterback run you have to be a little more of a tailback.”
— BLACK JERSEYS AGAIN: OSU athletic director Gene Smith followed Meyer to
the podium at his press conference to discuss how the decision was made to have the Buckeyes wear all-black uniforms, designed by Nike, against Penn State.
Smith acknowledged not everyone is happy with that decision.
“I get a couple emails from people saying, We’re not Oregon. They’re right. We’re not Oregon. We’re not going to be Oregon. We’re Ohio State University, and we’re going to pick one game every year where we try to do this.
“We’re blessed here, as an institution that has such great tradition and history. You have to make sure you respect that. And there are certain things that become untouchable in that regard. At the same time, you have to recognize that our demographic is changing. Our world is changing. We have 30,000 students that come to our football games, and then recruiting has changed, our competitors have changed. So there is that balance of respect for our history and tradition, but also moving ourselves further into the 21st century and the uniforms are part of that.”
— INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Dontre Wilson “tweaked” his often-injured foot in the game against Maryland, Meyer said.
He did not offer any information on Wilson’s status for this week’s game.
— CHECKS AND BALANCES: Meyer said he does not want a coaching staff of “yes men,” that he wants to have some coaches who will question him if they think he is wrong.
I think every coach wants that guy on his staff. I think they probably need to be a little bit more mature coach that’s been around for a while,” he said.
He identified long-time strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash as three current assistants who might be among the first to say something to him if they think something isn’t working.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.