The quarterback derby at Ohio State remains up for grabs as C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord continue to compete for the inside track to the first snap of the 2021 season.
During his press conference on Monday, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day suggested a decision on which quarterback will start at Minnesota on Sep. 2 could be decided by the end of the week.
Day said during spring practice he would prefer to identify a starter earlier in camp in order to begin stacking practice repetitions for whichever player that may be. Now a week into camp, large opportunities loom for each of the quarterbacks this week as practices and scrimmages begin to take on added importance with Day looking to keep his timeline.
“I think after this week, we’re going to have a really good feel,” Day said of the quarterback competition. “I think Wednesday will be a big day, Saturday will be a big day, and we’ll take Sunday off and come up for air. At that point, I think we’ll have a pretty good feel. I think maybe it will take another week after that, but we’ll see. Now that we’re getting into practice five, and 20 practices if you include the spring, there’s a pretty good body of work that we’re putting together day after day. Will we be ready next week? I don’t know. But it’ll be pretty close to that timetable.”
Stroud, the presumptive favorite to most outside the program, has led the Ohio State quarterbacks in stretching and position drill lines, as well as in periods featuring the entire offense early on in camp. However, when asked if any of the quarterbacks have started to separate themselves from the rest of the group, Day said none have stood out above the rest just yet.
As a decision from Day draws closer, the pressure facing each of the quarterbacks will undoubtedly continue to rise. Of course, that pressure will only continue to grow for the winner of the competition, a reality of playing quarterback at Ohio State. With a combined zero starts between them, Day said he is doing his best to prepare each one of the quarterbacks for what’s to come.
“I try to tell them all the time, ‘If you can survive practice with me kinda getting after you, the games will be easy,” Day said. “And that’s sometimes hard on those guys. I try to help them understand how hard it is to win a game and play quarterback at this level. Our expectation here is (to win) the Heisman Trophy and the national championship. That’s what it is. And be a first-round draft pick.
“So, a lot comes with that, and it doesn’t just happen. It takes time, and it takes reps, it takes failure, preparation, and all these things to get to where you need to go. And the only way to do it is to fail. There’s just a lot of friction along the way. The pressure has never been higher for those guys and they understand it. They’ve been great, their attitudes have been wonderful.”
Day said it is important for the quarterbacks to not “ride the rollercoaster” of emotions that come with playing the position, understanding that a bad day of practice does not define them as a player.
The nature of competition means there will only be one winner in the quarterbacks room whenever a decision is finally made, but Day stressed the importance of keeping all of the quarterbacks together given the rigors a college football season can present.
“I think that room has gotten a lot stronger, too, because a big part of it is it can’t be a bunch of individuals in that room,” Day said. “It has to have some cohesion. When you think about the last time they won a national championship here, it took all three guys. So I brought that up to that whole room. There’s going to be one starter. That’s the only thing I know for sure. The first play against Minnesota, there’s going to be one quarterback in the game, unless we decide to put two out there, but that’s probably not going to happen. That’s just what’s going to happen, and it’s a long way to January. So, how can those guys come together for a season and pull for each other, pull for the room? That’s where it’s more than just the Xs and Os.”
Day pointed out the support system the quarterbacks have to rely upon, highlighting quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis, offensive quality control coach Keenan Bailey, and former Vanderbilt offensive coordinator and current Ohio State offensive analyst Todd Fitch for the job they’re doing in developing a strong room overall.
“We have a lot of people who are helping in that area in terms of communication with those guys and building that room up,” he said. “I’m obviously in there a lot and talking to those guys, so they have great resources and people there. I think it’s going to be a long road all the way to January, but we’re off to a good start.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.