SvoNotes: Miller, Barrett Debate Too Early

It's fun to debate who might be Ohio State's starting quarterback in 2015, but there's also no way to tell who might end up as the quarterback next year.

One thing Urban Meyer said drew a laugh at his weekly Monday press conference, but was it telling?

J.T. Barrett is our quarterback,” he said when going over performances from the Michigan State game. “In case you didn’t know that.”

It was a moment of dry humor, but was it telling?

After all, here’s what Meyer said when asked about 2015 on Sept. 30: “Braxton is our quarterback.”

So are some things changing with the more success Barrett has?

Perhaps. And it was a moment that certainly led to lots of ink spilled and pixels wasted.

Will Barrett be Ohio State’s quarterback next year when Braxton Miller returns from injury? Or Will Miller be gifted the spot under the old axiom that a starter doesn’t lose his job because of injury? Or will there be a quarterback controversy next year based on the other old axiom that if you have two quarterbacks, you probably have none?

Here’s the thing: It’s an interesting, even fun topic to discuss. I get why people want to talk about it. But no opinion, no thought or no viewpoint expressed right now has any bearing on what will actually happen.

And here’s why: No one can predict the future.

A lot of things can happen between now and fall camp 2015. Miller, who has undergone two shoulder surgeries in the past year and faces a rehab that could stretch into next summer, might not ever be healthy enough to deliver the ball with the zip required at the college level. Barrett might not actually trip to New York City at the end of the year, even after his dismantling of Michigan State. I’m not rooting for either outcome, but they could happen.

And maybe, just maybe, two good quarterbacks can play together.

“Competition brings out the best,” Meyer said Monday. “And I'm really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year, if that's the plan.

“I don't use the term ‘crazy’, I think ‘fortunate’ and ‘blessed’, either one of them, because I think they're both excellent quarterbacks. Excellent quarterbacks. We'll worry about that day when it comes, but we're very fortunate to have those guys.”

Meyer is right. Having multiple good quarterbacks is better than having none – Ohio State has certainly been there at times over the years, and it’s no fun – and competition has brought out the best in this Buckeye team, which had many holes going into the year but once again finds itself in the top 10.

At this point, there’s a lot to like about Barrett. Multiple opponents have commented on his ability to throw the football, as he’s just four touchdowns away from the single-season school record and two away from the combined (rushing plus passing) record. His nearly 400-yard, five-TD performance at Michigan State at night was one of the best in recent memory at OSU, and his general efficiency in directing the Buckeyes to a school-record pace of points has been nothing short of stunning.

He’s also got more help, Meyer says, than Miller ever did.

“I think if you look back at our history since we've been here, we were borderline pathetic at passing the ball our first year, 2012,” the head coach said. “Last year we were just above not very good, and now we're pushing to have throwing 300 yards against Michigan State.

“And I don't blame fans. I'd be the same way – ‘Throw the ball, throw it downfield.’ I'm thinking who are we going to throw it to? Now when I say who are you going to throw it to, three or four names pop in my mind, which is a good sign.

“I believe J.T. has a big part of it. But I think more importantly those around him are playing much better. We have five guys I have no problem throwing the ball to. Remember 2012, name who we could throw the ball to.”

And how quickly people forget about Miller. The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year markedly improved his passing every year, piloted the previous school record-setting offense and set the school mark with 36 combined touchdowns a season ago. He won 24 consecutive games at one point, battled through injuries, carried the team when he was one of the few playmakers on the field, and was among the best Heisman candidates each of the past two seasons.

So who will be the quarterback next year? It’s far too early for that, both in practice and in theory. A lot is bound to happen before the team takes the field next year at Virginia Tech. Worrying about the future is a good way to miss the present, and the present looks pretty good to me.


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