We've suspected for some time that Ohio State would have a great dilemma on its hands this offseason, setting up one of the most intriguing storylines heading into the 2015 season. The team's looming QB quandary added another layer this past weekend, though.
With J.T. Barrett soaring to tremendous heights after stepping in for the injured Braxton Miller as Ohio State's starter this season, questions cropped up about which QB would give the team the best chance to win next season.
Then Cardale Jones, filling in for the injured Barrett, was phenomenal in a rout of Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, and suddenly things got even more interesting. It might not just be a two-QB dilemma for the Buckeyes this offseason. They might need to make room for one more viable candidate in that competition.
Expect a battle
And, yes, I firmly expect to see a competition at the position. That's what Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will want to see if all three return and are healthy next season.
Of course, two of them will be coming off injuries. Miller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during fall camp, and Barrett fractured his right ankle in the team's regular-season finale, which led to Jones' opportunity.
So, there are things that need to be sorted out health-wise for those two, but I call this situation a "great dilemma" because each guy has demonstrated that he gives the team a great chance to win.
Miller has been considered a top Heisman contender heading into each of the past two seasons. He was the Big Ten's player of the year in 2012 and '13. Barrett set the Big Ten single-season TD record (43) before suffering his injury, breaking Drew Brees' mark, and helped put Ohio State in position to make the College Football Playoff. And Jones threw for 257 yards and three TDs in his first career start, showing off his talent on a big stage.
How will Miller and Barrett bounce back from their injuries? Will the competition go into fall camp? These are just a couple of the questions that will need to be answered, but my experiences tell me that those three guys entered fall camp this year ranked in a certain order for a reason.
Ending up back where they started
Those things that made them first string, second string and third string in the first place continue to hold true.
Miller easily is the best runner of the three, even though Barrett did some amazing things as a rusher this season. Miller has a big arm, but Barrett has better touch on his throws. Jones also has the talent to challenge for the starting job, but it's unrealistic to expect him to play as well as he did against Wisconsin every week. Will he face any adversity in the playoff semifinal against Alabama? We'll see.
All things being equal from a health perspective next season, I expect we'll be right back where we started with these QBs -- Miller No. 1, Barrett No. 2 and Jones No. 3. That could be shaken up, but it's time to pump the brakes on any talk that doesn't give Miller his full due in this situation. He's far too talented to pass up without getting another look.
Of course, another option for Meyer is using a two-QB system. He's shown an ability to mix-and-match QBs before (Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at Florida). I don't think it's his preference, but he'll do what's best for the team.
Fortunately for him, he has options that will be the envy of many of his coaching colleagues.