When Ohio State head coach Ryan Day announced Tuesday that both Kyle McCord and Devin Brown will see the field in Saturday’s season-opener against Indiana, he entered unfamiliar territory in his still-young Buckeye tenure. Since he took the reins from Urban Meyer as head coach in 2019, Day has never entered a season with the intention of playing two quarterbacks under center — until now.
Despite the new beginning for Day, the Buckeyes’ leader expressed full faith in both McCord and Brown’s abilities to command the huddle and produce under the national spotlight at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
“We have confidence in both of them,” Day said on Tuesday. “I think that’s significant that we have two guys that we feel confident playing in a game. This is something that’s a little uncharted territory for me, but you just go on what you see every day in practice. And I think that Kyle’s consistency in the last couple of weeks has allowed him to be the starter and he deserves that. But I also think Devin deserves to play in the game as well. So how much, all that, that’s still to be determined, but we’ve at least come up with that conclusion here.”
Speaking in front of a packed group of media members at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center team room Tuesday afternoon, Day explained that the two signal callers both earned playing time this weekend because of the resolve and skill they showed throughout their “back-and-forth” battle in camp.
“I think that Devin made a real strong push about 10 days ago, two weeks ago, and I think Kyle responded with some really consistent play,” Day said. “And that was a good response. And that was very encouraging. Now it’s time to go play in games, though. And we certainly have seen enough in practice to believe that both guys can perform in a game, and now it’s time to go put it on the field.”
He also pointed to the respect they both gained in the locker room during fall camp as a key reason behind the decision. According to Day, Ohio State’s offensive personnel grew more comfortable with McCord and Brown over time, which allowed the pair of quarterbacks to form positive relationships with their teammates this summer.
“I see our receivers getting in rhythm, I see the offensive line getting in rhythm with both guys,” Day said. “If I didn’t feel that, then I would step in. I think both guys have won the team. And I think they feel confident with them being in the game on Saturday.”
With both McCord and Brown proving they are worthy of leading the Scarlet and Gray under center to start the 2023 season, Day pushed back on the adage that playing two quarterbacks is just as beneficial as having none. Instead, the Buckeyes’ head coach argued that this development serves as a positive for his program, referring to past teams who have had success using multiple quarterbacks as something they can replicate.
“The theory of ‘if you don’t have a starting quarterback, you don’t have a quarterback,’ that wasn’t the case for Alabama when they had Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones (in 2018),” Day said. “(Alabama) attracts some of the best players in the country, and it all worked out great for them. That’s one example.
“You think about the year when the national championship was won here most recently (in 2014), you had three guys who played,” Day continued. “So you try to do the best you can. A good problem to have is when you have multiple guys you feel good about putting in the game. And I think the more we play in these games, the more we’re going to see the strengths come through and we’ll just, on a weekly basis, try to do the best we can to put a game plan together that gives our team the best chance to win.”