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Inside Slant: Cardale Jones should be Ohio State's starter at QB


It's obvious now that Cardale Jones' stunning three-game run through the postseason last year -- leading wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon for the national championship -- didn't buy the Ohio State quarterback any more than a fair shot at winning the starting job next month in preseason practice. Coach Urban Meyer has preferred to let speculation about college football's most compelling position battle run its own course rather than fueling it by handicapping the competition.

But now that two-time Big Ten MVP Braxton Miller's move to another position has been pseudo-confirmed, we'll make the call for Meyer:

Start Jones, and don't look back.

In addition to a 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame that draws comparisons to the Pittsburgh Steelers' mountain of a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, Jones now has three more attributes he was lacking at this time a year ago: confidence, maturity and experience. He is a different quarterback today than the one who lost in a competition with J.T. Barrett last August after Miller succumbed to a season-ending injury.

To be fair, Barrett is a different quarterback now, too. The redshirt sophomore was spectacular in the regular season. But the notion that Barrett's "larger body of work" should carry any sort of edge over Jones is laughable. In leading OSU to an 11-1 regular-season mark, Barrett's three most impressive wins came against Michigan State, Minnesota and, arguably, Penn State. Jones' three wins clearly stack higher, so it's not a stretch to presume Jones also would have handled the Marylands and Indianas of the schedule had he been given the chance.

Another misnomer: Barrett being the more nimble, agile runner in the open field makes the Buckeyes' offense more versatile than it is with Jones. To the contrary, Jones' size and arm strength will allow him to stand in the pocket and deliver throws over the middle of the field with an authority that's unmatched on the Buckeyes' roster. Miller's move to H-back, the position the Buffalo Bills' Percy Harvin played for Meyer at Florida, will give OSU more than enough of a perimeter rushing threat. Harvin, in fact, recorded more rushes than catches in each of his three seasons at UF, so don't expect Miller to just catch the ball.

Meyer liked to utilize Tim Tebow's rushing skills in power plays at Florida -- designed short-yardage and goal-line runs that moved the chains, lit the scoreboard and demoralized linebackers. Jones can bring that element to the OSU offense more effectively than Barrett, as well.

Miller's move to H-back can only enhance his NFL prospects, giving pro scouts a full season to evaluate him in a role that he is better-suited for on Sundays. The move also opens the scouting stage for Jones, Barrett, or perhaps both, at the quarterback position.

Jones, a junior, considered entering this year's draft despite all those "body-of-work" arguments. This fall could be Meyer's last chance to give Jones the ball for a full season.

And he should take it.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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