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Urban Meyer Self Evaluates His 2015 Performance: Quarterbacks, Play Calling
By Patrick Murphy
Urban Meyer had plenty to think on after the 2015 season
Photo by Jim Davidson
 

COLUMBUS – Self-reflection can often be a positive thing if done in the proper manner. Self-criticism is something many should do, but few are actually able.

As a big-time college football head coach, these skills are essential.

After the 2015 season where Ohio State had the highest of expectations but never lived up to them, Urban Meyer was asked to evaluate how he handled crucial decisions that had a major impact on the Buckeyes’ failure to repeat as national champions or retain the Big Ten Title.

I’m going to be careful how I answer that because I’m not done on the evaluation of it yet,” he said. “I’m the hardest evaluator on myself.”

The Buckeyes began the season with two capable and proven quarterbacks. Cardale Jones was named the starter at the outset of the season, but Meyer left the door open for J.T. Barrett to continue to compete for the job.

Were the QBs handled properly?
Photo by Jim Davidson
 

When Jones began to struggle in the second game of the season, Meyer had Barrett warming up on the sideline. This got in Jones’ head and affected his play. It also caused Barrett to press and made both players try and do things that weren’t typical of their play.

The Cardale situation, you know he’s leaving Ohio State with three wins against Top-10 teams, a national champ, undefeated, but ‘Could you have moved J.T. in earlier?’ I’m not going to answer that because I don’t know the answer,” Meyer said.

Meyer picked Jones for a reason -- he was the better player in Fall Camp. It was close, but ultimately the coaching staff believed Jones gave them the better chance to win in 2015.

If Meyer had gone with Barrett, who led OSU to 11 wins the year previous before getting hurt against Michigan, how would the Buckeyes have finished last year? No one can know for sure, but the offense flourished under Barrett in his first start against Rutgers and in the final two games of the season.

“I’m going to keep evaluating,” Meyer said. “I’m sure every one of you have opinions on woulda, coulda, shoulda. I know that was very difficult.”

The issues weren’t just with the quarterbacks either. Once Barrett did earn the starting spot, it wasn’t as if he set the world on fire every game. Against a susceptible Illinois defense, Barrrett passed for just 150 yards and one touchdown and only managed 90 total yards against Michigan State.

Should Warinner been upstairs sooner?
Photo by Dan Harker
 

After the disappointing loss to the Spartans where Ohio State totaled 132 yards of offense, Meyer elected to move offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner to the press box to help co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck.

The results speak for themselves as OSU rallied off two wins over Top-15 opponents. Against Michigan, the Buckeye offense put up 482 total yards on a Top 5 defense and then scorched Notre Dame for 496 total yards in the Fiesta Bowl.

With the results of Warinner in the press box, could Meyer have made the move sooner in order to get the expected results from the offense?

“[Was it] too late? I think those are great questions,” Meyer said. “That’s a good conversation to have and that’s something else I’ll evaluate.”

The reason for keeping Warinner on the sidelines throughout the season despite the struggling offense was the belief that the offensive line needs its coach on the field to work with the players throughout the game. In the final two games, the veteran line was able to make the necessary adjustments using their experience and graduate assistant and former Buckeye offensive lineman Jim Cordle.

That was a grind,” Meyer said of these questions. “That was an anguish. Just a knot in your stomach. Are you doing the right thing?”

There’s no question that Meyer cares about the Buckeyes probably more than anyone else and made these decisions with winning in mind.

“We went 12-1, that’s the bottom line,” Meyer said. “Would it have changed the one?”

We’ll never know.

Player profiles relevant to story:
12 - Jones, Cardale | 16 - Barrett, J.T. | Coach - Meyer, Urban | Coach - Warinner, Ed
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