Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had the whole world in suspense, wondering who would be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. The choice between redshirt junior Cardale Jones and redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett seemed clear on both sides to many OSU fans, but not for Meyer.
The starter wasn’t officially announced until a few days after OSU’s third game, a matchup with Northern Illinois in which Jones hadn’t played well. Barrett, the backup, stepped in the second half of the game and helped win the game. Still, that did not stop Meyer in the days following the game to make an official declaration of Jones as the starter.
The announcement was shocking to many people. After such a rough start to the season, what reason did the coach have for staying so loyal to Jones? Well, it could be that Meyer is simply giving Jones a chance to start because he might have the desire to go to the NFL next year.
The quarterback controversy has dwindled with each passing week, but Jones’ performance still hasn’t been spectacular, especially in the Week 5 game at Indiana.
In Bloomington, Indiana, Jones didn’t throw a touchdown in the first half. The leading scorer at the break for Buckeyes was redshirt senior kicker Jack Willoughby, who made two field goals to account for all of OSU’s points.
While junior running back Ezekiel Elliott provided a lift on offense in the second half, Jones still didn’t throw a touchdown until the fourth quarter, which he hit redshirt junior receiver Michael Thomas for an 11-yard score.
That was it for Jones, as he finished the game 18-of-27 for 245 yards, the touchdown and an interception. Indiana’s second-string quarterback, Zander Diamont, looked more impressive and poised than Jones when he entered the game, despite not being aware he would play. Diamont had six completions, a reception and a 79-yard touchdown run, which is a pretty good day for a backup.
Jones’ passing stats weren’t bad overall, but if Diamont was in for the entire game, the Buckeyes might’ve lost. Elliott was required to carry the Buckeyes to victory with little help from his quarterback, an attribute that makes the Buckeyes seem one-dimensional. Jones’ performance so far has not appeared like starting quarterback material, so where does Meyer’s loyalty come from?
Jones was a redshirt sophomore last season, meaning had the chance to enter in the NFL draft after leading OSU to a national championship. However, he didn’t go through with it because he wanted to raise his draft stock with a full season under center rather than just three starts.
Jones will most likely leave for the NFL after the season, but in order for him to raise his draft stock he must play well, which he hasn’t done yet.
Football is about earning a spot. While Meyer’s allegiance to Jones for his performance in the clutch last season and his subsequent decision to stay in school is understandable, it still seems like Meyer might be doing a disservice to the team by standing by Jones’ side.
Is loyalty enough to earn the job, or does Jones’ performance warrant a move? Has the starting quarterback spot been earned, or given?