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The Buckeyes Have a (Good) Quarterback Problem
By Patrick Murphy
Ohio State's backup quarterbacks have emerged as starter and created a debate in Columbus
Photo by Jim Davidson

Too much of a good thing can be problematic at times. As the dust settles on Ohio State’s national championship season, the team has a good problem on its hands going forward: too many starting quarterbacks.

Unlike most other positions in football, only one quarterback plays at a time. While head coach Urban Meyer and his offensive staff can get creative with their formations, they will have to pick a starting signal caller at some point.

“I mean, I don't have to make the decision,” senior wide receiver Evan Spencer said after the National Championship Game. “But we got three incredible guys with three incredible talents and I'm excited to see what the team can do next year.”

It is an astonishing story really. The Buckeyes overcame the loss of two Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterbacks to climb to the top of the college football mountain. But where do they turn now?

Senior Braxton Miller was expected to be the starter in 2015 while the others waited in the wings. Miller missed spring camp and was limited throughout the summer, but reports were that he would be ready for Ohio State’s opener against Navy.

Miller's injury was the first factor to make Meyer's decision tough
Photo by Jim Davidson

Just days before the first game, Miller was ruled out for the season after reinjuring his throwing shoulder on a simple, non-contact pass play. With Miller out, the Scarlet and Gray lost 5,292 passing yards, 52 passing touchdowns, 3,054 rushing yards, and 32 rushing touchdowns.

Left to replace him were two quarterbacks with very little experience. The reins were handed to redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett who hadn’t seen game action in over a year after injuring his knee as a senior in high school. After a rough opening two games, Barrett began to look like natural. He accounted for 3,772 total yards and 45 total touchdowns.

The quarterback situation was complicated further when Barrett went down against Michigan with a fractured ankle. In came third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, who lost the battle for the backup position to Barrett in the preseason.

Little was expected of Jones and most of the nation believed Ohio State’s chances in the Big Ten Championship Game and the College Football Playoff were done. After completing just one career pass, Jones proved the doubters wrong on the way to the university’s eighth national championship. In his three starts, Jones threw for 860 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for nearly 300 more and another score.

So the question that looms large in Columbus, who will be the starter when the 2015 season begins?

Miller is a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Barrett broke Drew Brees’ Big Ten record for touchdowns accounted for in a season and led the team to a 10-1 record. Jones only started three games, but he won a championship in each game including the National Championship.

There is a chance that all three quarterbacks won’t return for next season. Rumors have swirled recently that if Miller’s shoulder heals properly, he will transfer to a school where he will start as he looks to prove himself to professional scouts. Meyer has stated he believes Miller will be back but the quarterback has not made a decision.

As a redshirt sophomore, Jones is eligible to declare

The Buckeyes just won the National Championship with their third QB
Photo by Jim Davidson

for the NFL Draft. The 6-5, 250-pounder has only started three games in college, but some believe his size, skillset, and remarkable performances in those games could be enough for a team to select him.

If all three return and are healthy in 2015, Meyer and his staff have a difficult decision ahead. For now, that is in the future and the Buckeyes are going to enjoy their championship. They’ll deal with their good problem later.

“When that comes, we will worry about it. But that's far,” Barrett said. “When that comes, we'll worry about it then. Right now we'll enjoy the moment, offseason is around the corner, worry about that when that comes, spring ball when that comes. We take a step at it at a time.”

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