COLUMBUS – It might have been a record, if records are kept on such things.
On one series late in the first quarter of Ohio State’s 49-28 win over Maryland on Saturday, the Buckeyes used three quarterbacks on three consecutive plays.
Cardale Jones started it. Then Braxton Miller moved from wide receiver to quarterback for one play. After that, back-up quarterback J.T. Barrett took the controls of the offense and eventually handed off to Ezekiel Elliott for a touchdown. It might sound like a novelty, but it was serious business. The trade-off between Jones and Barrett continued throughout the game, with Barrett coming in most of the times OSU got inside the 20-yard line.
It worked very well on Saturday. Running back Ezekiel Elliott said it was Ohio State’s best offensive game of the season.
Will it continue to work? That is the big question going forward.
The people involved in this latest variation of Ohio State’s two-quarterback system say it will, even though coach Urban Meyer said the months of talk about how he should use his quarterbacks has left him “exhausted.”
They insisted that it will work because the two players have put the team ahead of their own egos.
“I’m very happy with it. I’m into good kids. I’m into good people that are committed to our program,” Meyer said. “It’s a unique situation.
“They’re both very good quarterbacks. They both played well. I’m going to hug them both and say great job, well done and now let’s go to work tomorrow and find a way to get better,” he said.
Jones said he was on board with whatever it took to make the team better.
“It was great. It was all within the coach’s plan. He felt like J.T. brought an extra element in the red zone with some things he was able to do in the running game and he was proved right,” he said.
“Not just me, but everybody on our team, we just want to win. We just want to do what we need to win. Sacrificing playing time at times or swallowing egos, that’s no problem for us. That’s a testament to how we were trained all year long.”
Meyer first suggested the new arrangement to Jones and Barrett on Monday, gave them a couple hours to think about it, then called them into his office again.
“I agreed with him. It was all for the benefit of the team,” Jones said. “I think it can work.”
Barrett did not do interviews after the game. But offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said the ability of Jones and Barrett to co-exist as friends off the field and competitors on the field will make the new plan work.
“We have two great human beings who are unselfish and team first and are willing to do whatever it takes to help this team continue to win games,” Warinner said.
“There was no pushback from Cardale or anybody on the team. Both guys have earned the right to help this team win.
“I think both those guys have earned the right to help the team win and we’re trying to find out how to best do that. I think we found a good start to that today,” he said.