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Starting quarterback spot was Cardale Jones’ to lose, Meyer says

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Redshirt junior quarterback Cardale Jones (12) looks for a hole to run through during a game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7. OSU won, 42-24. Photo credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

Redshirt junior quarterback Cardale Jones (12) looks for a hole to run through during a game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7. OSU won, 42-24. Photo credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

The biggest question in college football during the offseason was finally answered on Monday night when redshirt junior quarterback Cardale Jones trotted out onto the turf at Lane Stadium to take the first snap of the 2015 season for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Coach Urban Meyer stayed true to his word, as he reiterated all through fall camp that the world would not find out who the starter would be until the Scarlet and Gray’s first offensive play.

According to Jones, that is when members of the team — including the two guys in contention for the spot, redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett and Jones — found out as well.

When the offense huddled up prior to taking the field for the first time, both quarterbacks were there.

The Cleveland native said that after the play was called and the huddle broke, he began to take a few steps toward the sideline before he was stopped and told he was in.

“When y’all found out, I found out,” Jones said after the Buckeyes’ 42-24 victory over Virginia Tech.

Meyer said the competition between Barrett and Jones was “real close” through camp.

But for him, after Jones took over for the injured Barrett and guided the Buckeyes on a historic three-game stretch — in which he threw for a total 742 yards and five scores — to capture the national championship, it was Jones’ job to lose.

“Cardale finished the season as the starter and I kind of started thinking, ‘For him not to take the first snap, he had to get beat out,’” Meyer said. “And he wasn’t beat out.”

Jones, who was making just his fourth career start, began the game against Virginia Tech in red-hot fashion, leading the Buckeyes to a touchdown on their first drive.

On that drive, he rushed for 26 yards, while completing three of his four passes, for 54 yards and a score.

The 24-yard touchdown came while Jones was under the duress of Tech’s pass rush.

The 6-foot-5 quarterback rolled to his right and tossed the ball to sophomore H-Back Curtis Samuel in the endzone, who made a diving grab for the game’s first points.

Jones and the Buckeyes continued their strong performance during the first frame of the highly anticipated rematch, as they led 14-0.

However, the second quarter was a different narrative.

Jones and the entire offense struggled, as he did not complete a pass during the entire 15 minutes — except for one completion to Virginia Tech’s redshirt junior safety Desmond Frye early in the second frame, which was the first of two OSU turnovers in the quarter.

The Hokies stormed back, scoring 17 unanswered points to take the lead right before halftime.

At some point during the second period, Meyer said he considered making a switch and putting in the quarterback who threw for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2014: Barrett.

“I almost put J.T. in earlier,” Meyer said, “but it was such a pressure game, with Cardale’s size, I thought he could get over the top of that defensive front because they were all over the place. And that was the decision.”

Meyer added that one has to be “real careful” about making a move of that magnitude and that there really is “not a formula” for it.

However, if the situation arose where a switch might be necessary, Meyer would rely on his own thoughts.

“You can’t have too many people’s input because all that does is confuse the situation,” he said. “If that situation is to drive the ball down the field to score, who should be in the game?”

Overall, Jones ended the game 9-of-18 for 198 passing yards and two scores, along with 99 yards on the ground and another touchdown. To Meyer, however, the performance was just OK.

“I’d expect more, you know, the turnover you don’t do that, throwing late,” he said. “But once again, that’s a good team so we’ll take it and get better.”

Jones said that going forward he knows the areas in which he can improve.

“Just clean up on them turnovers and mental mistakes,” he said.

He added that even though his performance in camp was good enough to get the start — as well as being good enough for the Buckeyes to leave Blacksburg with a victory — he is not sure if he will be the one taking the first snap on Saturday when the Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in Columbus.
“I don’t think the battle is over, ” Jones said, later adding, “I’m not even sure who will start Saturday.”


  1. So Meyer obviously wasn’t telling the truth when he, over and over, insisted the QB job was wide open and the decision would be based on statistics. Instead, he felt all along it was Cardale’s job to loose.

    And then, to Urban dissed Cardale at halftime, by telling the world he was thinking of pulling him, when the guy busted his ass and exposed himself to injury by bulling his way forward repeatedly, and as far as we know threw almost no bad passes and overlooked no open receivers.

    Based on the above, I’d give Urban a C in managing the QB situation.

    Also, I think the injured VT QB was right when he said Urban caught a break when he was injured. The Buckeyes had terrible pass coverage and were completely unprepared for the back-across-the-field, across the grain passes.

    Anyway, a win is a win, but the coaches have to get their acts together sometime in the next two months.

    • Yeah, well VT caught a break last year when Braxton Miller was sidelined for the season. Further, VT caught a break Monday with Bosa and the rest suspended for the game or VT would have suffered a bigger defeat.

    • We must have watched different games and listened to different commentary. The game I saw had the quarterback decision made at the last minute, as planned. Obviously, saying that the job was “Cardale’s to loose (sic)” does not negate that. Meyer said he made the decision based on statistics, as he has said all along. That is completely consistent with the notion that one quarterback has the edge, with the qualification that the end result depends on performance in practice. The injured QB was able to keep his sense of humor in saying that Meyer caught a break when he was injured. There is no basis for reading more into it than that. Interestingly, every commentary I have seen by sports writers has come to a conclusion completely the opposite of yours. The consensus is that OSU looked really dominant and demonstrated why they have the inside track for a repeat performance this year. Of course, you could be right and the world could be wrong. To me, if there is any message from this game, it is that the coaches clearly do not need to “get their acts together in the next two months.” The OSU performance was particularly impressive in light of the number of key players who missed the game. Time will tell.

    • Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Yes we are the best team in the country by far but we need to stay focused and play one game at a time.

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