Cus Words: Stick to Your Guns

This week in Ohio State football, we learned the value of trusting one's instincts when it comes to picking a quarterback. That and more in the first 2015 edition of the Cus Words column.

What we learned this week: Never hedge, kids.

I felt like I had the Ohio State quarterback race pegged from the start, but I relented at the last minute after incorrectly interpreting what little public information was available.

Urban Meyer acknowledging one player had started to fall behind before making up ground in a scrimmage and Cardale Jones talking about having poor practices during the Big Ten Network's behind-the-scenes show indicated to me Barrett was the leader because, fair or not, Barrett comes across as a steady performer while Jones seems like a gamer.

I tried to ignore the opinions of other pundits, especially outside the Ohio State beat, because I think a lot of the belief Barrett would be the starter was based on incorrect perceptions about both the players and the offense.

But all along I thought if Urban Meyer was going to go with his gut and not be a slave to statistics, Jones would be his guy. Jones has a higher ceiling, and therefore so does the offense with him in the game. Barrett has plenty of talent, and his consistency is nice, but the latter has also been blown out of proportion as time has passed. (It's amazing how much more deeply ingrained games against Cincinnati and Maryland became in the collective psyche than Indiana or Michigan, let alone Penn State.)

I should have stuck with my gut all the way, I guess, but at least I can take solace in the fact whether or not I was right about who ended up getting the nod really doesn't matter to anyone but, well, probably me. (But who doesn't enjoy looking smart, right?)

Meyer did not leave much to the imagination when explaining his decision after the game, and it's hard to find fault with his logic.

He saw Jones as the incumbent because of the way the season ended, and then Jones got a lot of work in the spring because of Barrett's continuing recovery from an injury. That leads me to believe he had a larger cushion in the race (that is to say, any cushion at all) than anyone realized when camp convened in August.

I thought all along unless Jones was so poor in camp Meyer couldn't justify starting him that Jones would be the starter because he brings more to the table. (If you encounter anyone arguing otherwise on that last point, ignore whatever else they have to say on the topic.)

Jones has always had more natural ability, but he's lost a camp battle to Barrett before, so it was not hard at all to envision that happening again. I suppose that's why it was easy to buy the narrative described above even if Meyer only needed a couple of minutes to explain why it was backwards all along.

Anyway, it's good to have all that out of the way and be able to focus more on actual game action from here on out.

As far as how things played out in Blacksburg, we probably saw a lot of what we were expecting.

Even down a few playmakers, Ohio State had no lack of talent on either side of the ball. Joey Bosa's replacement had a sack and that new H-receiver guy wearing No. 1 had a pretty nice night, too. The only downside related to the suspensions was Ezekiel Elliott's dropped punt, although that's a tough job so it's hard to come down too hard on anyone filling in there.

Gareon Conley was impressive in his new role as a starting cornerback, and Raekwon McMillan flashed a few times against the run from his middle linebacker spot.

It will be interesting to see how things play out on the interior defensive line, where there seemed to be some ups and downs but guys like Mike Hill flashed a couple of times. (If the ends continue to perform, it will be interesting to see if Bosa sees more time at three-technique, especially in passing situations or against highly pass-oriented teams.)

The opener was also a reminder that Virginia Tech is still a big-boy school that can recruit some great athletes, as the interior guys for the Hokies performed their duties pretty well for most of the night.

But the way it played out overall was a reminder it's almost always more about the Jimmys and the Joes than the Xs and the Os in college football. For all the havoc VT caused again, Ohio State was able to break off enough big plays to not only win but do so comfortably.

What can we expect to learn this week: The significantly smaller window for preparation makes this matchup with Hawaii much more intriguing.

While the Buckeyes should be able to overwhelm their visitors with talent, this is a situation that is totally foreign to these players and probably most if not all of the coaches.

Will there be a hangover effect? Will having less time to grasp what the Rainbow Warriors are doing create enough problems to make this a potential upset? I tend to doubt it, but we can't rule it out completely I guess.

Hawaii has an intriguing quarterback in USC transfer Max Wittek, but the Warriors gave up 215 yards rushing in a 28-20 win over Colorado to start the season.


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