Ohio State’s spring practice is over, and as expected, the Buckeyes are exiting without a starting quarterback locked into the rotation. The battle for the starting role will continue into fall camp, with redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud considered by many to be the leader, though not by a wide margin.
That bore out at the capper to spring practice on Saturday. Stroud was the most efficient quarterback on the field (save for Jagger LaRoe), completing 16 of his 22 attempts for 185 yards and two touchdowns, but both Kyle McCord and Jack Miller had flashes of excellence throughout the game. McCord completed 12 of his 17 passing attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns, including a 55-yard bomb to Garrett Wilson in the first quarter that has a strong case for best throw of the day.
Miller’s performance left a bit more to be desired, but he still completed 17 of his 30 passing attempts for 128 yards and an interception.
In total, each performance was one that Ohio State could learn from, but as head coach Ryan Day alluded to prior to the game, none provided a definitive statement about who deserves the starting job.
“This is just another piece to the puzzle,” Day said on Big Ten Network before the game. “We’re not going to know who the starting quarterback is coming out of today. It’s going to be pretty basic on offense and defense. Just to play in the Horseshoe and run the offense and get a feel for things. There’ll be good plays and bad plays, but just another step in the progression.”
Although there isn’t much than can be gleaned from the performance, any chance to get a glimpse at this quarterback battle is valuable, and to help visualize the stats, BSB has charted every throw from the three starting job contenders, with the distance stats coming from the line of scrimmage to the point of catch.
The favorite of many entering the game, Stroud did nothing to dissuade those opinions on Saturday. He navigated well in the pocket and kept himself out of trouble, completing 13 of his 15 clean pocket throws, while he handled himself well even against the rush, completing 4 of his 7 attempts, including a bomb down the left sideline to senior receiver Chris Olave in the first quarterback.
Stroud got it done just about everywhere on the field. He was weakest throwing to the left outside by a small margin, but in general, Stroud the same throwing to any part of the field. He looked most comfortable operating underneath, completing 8/9 passes within five yards and tallying up two touchdowns in the process/
The only real question mark here, if there is one, is on the action down the field. Stroud was 5/9 on throws past 11 yards – certainly not bad by any means, but not quite as efficient as he was underneath.
McCord entered the game with the reputation as a gunslinger and left with that intact. He was the most aggressive of the bunch, pushing seven of his 17 passes at least 11 yards down the field, including three that went more than 20 yards and just one in the 11-15 range where both Stroud and Miller were much more active. Like Stroud, McCord was very comfortable operating underneath as well.
He was less interested, however, in hitting the entire field. He struggled a bit throwing to the left outside part of the field, but made a killing throwing to the right outside, hitting on 8 of his 10 passing attempts for two scores. He didn’t look at all to the right middle of the field, and threw just one checkdown on the day.
If you’re looking for someone who will simply take what the defense gives them, Miller may be your man. He lived underneath in the spring game, slinging out 16 passes within the 10-yard range and hitting on 12 of them. Miller got into trouble when he looked to stretch the ball down the field, holding onto it longer and inviting more pressure.
On throws down the field beyond 11 yards, Miller was pressured 7 times and completed just 2 of his attempts, while he went 3/7 with an interception against a clean pocket. He looked less than willing to really let the ball fly down the field, and when he did, he had issues with his accuracy.
In terms of hitting the whole field, Miller was far more comfortable throwing to his left than he was to his right, completing 11/16 passes to the left side of the field while hitting just 6/14 to the right.