Devin Brown, Will Howard, Julian Sayin Ohio State Buckeyes Quarterbacks

Multiple Quarterbacks Need To Be Ready To Start For Ohio State

The question was about freshman quarterback Julian Sayin, but it could have been about any of the Ohio State quarterbacks — or anybody else on the team for that matter.

In the final week of spring practice last month, Buckeye head coach Ryan Day was asked for his thoughts on starting a freshman quarterback like Sayin.

It is of course very rare for a true freshman quarterback to win a starting job. When it happens, it usually means that something else has gone terribly wrong. Some freshman are more advanced than others, and while a freshman quarterback as your starter isn’t necessarily a recipe for disaster, you should expect some egg shell in your omelet from time to time.

As for Sayin, it doesn’t matter how Day views him. That shouldn’t be the question. And the same goes for anybody else on this year’s Ohio State football team.

“I think it’s just the mindset for him is that he needs to be ready to go play at Oregon. He’s gotta be ready to go play at Penn State. He’s got to go be ready to play against The Team Up North,” Day said. “He’s gotta be ready to play for the Big Ten and the national championship. That’s in his mind, because we know the last time the national championship was won, we were on to quarterback three.”

In 2014, the Buckeyes lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller in fall camp, which was a short-term disaster. Redshirt freshman quarterback JT Barrett picked up the pieces and was leading Ohio State to the first ever College Football Playoffs until he was lost for the season with an injury against Michigan.

Enter third-string quarterback Cardale Jones and the eventual history he would carry with him for the rest of time.

The Buckeyes were fortunate that year to be able to play for a title, and it happened because they played well enough in the Big Ten Championship Game with Jones at quarterback to convince the playoff committee that there wouldn’t be a drop off without Barrett.

Cross reference that example with Florida State’s situation last year where the Noles went undefeated but lost starting quarterback Jordan Travis late in the year. Florida State had two games to convince the committee that they were just fine with their backup quarterback, but it was clear watching the games that they were not. Had the backups played better, the undefeated Seminoles would have made the playoffs.

With the expanded playoffs this year, that kind of example will be rectified, but it’s not just about making the playoffs, it’s about winning the playoffs.

And one of the steps the Buckeyes are taking to make that happen is by using the quarterbacks in the running game more.

“With the quarterbacks having the ability to run — we haven’t done that a lot here,” Day said. “Justin [Fields] was probably the last one and boy, he really kind of limped into the last couple games because of that. So we’re going to need guys now more than when we had CJ [Stroud] and Dwayne [Haskins]and even Kyle [McCord]. We didn’t really run those guys. They kind of survived the whole season. We’re gonna run the quarterbacks some this year. And because of that, we’re going to need depth. And so that room’s got to be strong. “

With new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly running the offense, combined with the realization that last year’s struggles with the running game can’t happen again, having the quarterbacks more involved on the ground makes complete sense.

Having more quarterbacks than the Buckeyes have had in the past is also a key factor in deciding to run them more this year. Which is why the message is the same to all the quarterbacks, not just Julian Sayin: “Get ready.”

“This year, we’re going to [use them in the running game] with Chip, so we need depth in that room,” Day said. “So his mindset’s got to be that, ‘I’m playing next year,’ and if he’s the best available at the time then he’s gonna play.”

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