Devin Brown Ohio State Buckeyes Quarterback

Unknowns Of Devin Brown Will Make Missouri Defense ‘Reactive’

The Devin Brown catalog is not especially vast, but the possibilities are intriguing — unless you are the defensive coordinator tasked with trying to figure out exactly what Brown will do for the Buckeyes today.

No. 7 Ohio State and No. 9 Missouri will kick off in the 88th Cotton Bowl Classic at 8:00 pm Eastern tonight, and when they do, quarterback Devin Brown will be making his first career start for the Buckeyes.

As such, there is not a lot to draw upon for Tigers defensive coordinator Blake Baker.

“We mostly looked at what he has done this year,” Baker said. “I think he had 76 snaps or something on the season. And then you blend that with what they already do and maybe some things differently they may do based off of his skill set. No, I didn’t go back and check out his [high school] highlight tape.”

Brown, a redshirt freshman, has played in five games this year and completed 12-of-22 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Those are also his career numbers because he did not attempt a pass in either game that he appeared in back in 2022.

The story is well-told now how Brown lost out late in the fall camp competition to Kyle McCord, but there was a point back in August where it looked like Brown could be the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback.

Tonight we will find out what that might have looked like all season long. Ohio State fans, coaches, and teammates seem to be looking forward to it, as is the Missouri defense.

“It’s definitely a challenge because you don’t know their strengths and weaknesses,” said Mizzou safety JC Carlies. “It’s also fun just trying to figure out the quarterback throughout the game. Figure out the tendencies and what they like to do. As we’re going through this process, we’re treating it like we do anybody else. Going through the motions of preparing for quarterbacks who we might have played before. Our coaches have a good game plan for us and we’re prepared.”

While there may not have been a ton of film to look back on, Brown showed enough glimpses in his few moments this season to show what he was capable of doing on the field.

“As soon as it was announced that Devin was going to be the starting quarterback, we pulled every one of his plays to watch it,” said Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz. “And that was probably a big mistake because it shows the diversity of things that he can do.”

Of course, it’s not just the diversity of things that Brown can do, but also that Ohio State’s offense can do as well. Brown is more of a running threat that previous starter Kyle McCord — as well as 2021, 2022 starter CJ Stroud — which makes the possibilities even wider.

“Understanding Coach [Ryan] Day’s past and Coach [Brian] Hartline’s past, you realize there’s such a variety of things that they’ll be able to adapt and make this offense go with his skillset,” Drinkwitz said at Thursday’s joint press conference with the two head coaches. “So it will be a challenge. We’ll be reactive. We’ll have to react to see what his style of game plan is. I was hoping he would tell us today, but you all didn’t ask any of those questions. So we’ll figure it out.”

Missouri will try to prepare for the unknowns as best as they can, but ultimately they will rely on what they know best — themselves. The Tigers have the No. 4 total defense in the SEC, allowing just 347.2 yards of total offense per game.

The key to stopping an offense isn’t necessarily the plan at the outset, but rather the adjustments that are made throughout the game. Drinkwitz knows that’s where the Tigers will need to be at their best.

“I think the one thing about Blake and his style of defense is we have the ability to create — with our defense and our odd front, we have the ability to get into heavy personnel, if they go heavy and try to establish the run,” he said. “So we’ll just have to figure out what style of game it becomes and then react to it. Like Coach [Day] said, their quarterback is very talented. He throws the ball very well, runs it very well. And you can tell that he’s very good as far as leadership.”

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