After months of speculation, Urban Meyer finally made a decision – mainly because he had to.
Cardale Jones started over J.T. Barrett in Ohio State’s season-opener against Virginia Tech on Monday, going 9-of-18 for 186 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 13 times for 99 yards and a score. The Buckeyes won 42-24.
Barrett, who sat on the sidelines until the fourth quarter, eventually entered the fray, rushing one time for 40 yards and throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas.
So, what do we make of Meyer’s decision?
“I was predicting that it was going to be Barrett, and I was initially surprised when we started to hear murmurs that he was working out with the first-team center,” CBSSports.com college football writer Chip Patterson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “But after watching him for a half, I understand. Cardale Jones, with his running ability – it’s not even just read-option stuff; it is a lot of designed runs where with that Ohio State offensive line that has four returning starters back from a year ago, they get out there, they start laying some dudes out at the second level, and Cardale Jones is just so big that if he gets a couple of steps and falls forward, it’s a first down.”
Braxton Miller, meanwhile, had a “fine, fine debut,” notching eight touches for 140 yards and two touchdowns (one rush, one receiving). He also had a spin move for the ages en route to a 53-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, leaving multiple Hokies grasping at air.
“Right now with the suspensions that Ohio State has on the outside, Braxton Miller really seems to be one of the best receiving options,” Patterson said, “which is kind of crazy when you consider where this quarterback competition was a year ago.”
Ohio State, which will be favored in every game this season, had to overcome some adversity at Lane Stadium on Monday. The Buckeyes got out to a quick 14-0 lead but trailed 17-14 at halftime.
Then they put up 28 unanswered.
“I think this might be a pattern that we see from them,” Patterson said. “It’s just going to be human instinct for a team that’s this talented, this well-put-together, to go through a Big Ten schedule where they’re going to be favored my multiple touchdowns on a week-in, week-out basis. I think we will have situations like this where they will start fast, maybe have little lapses and it’s going to be like the easy button. They’re just going to hit these big plays – just because they’re so much more talented than the rest of the college football world. The challenge for the team – and obviously for Urban Meyer – is going to be able to keep this team in a position so that it doesn’t get caught off guard by the wrong team at the wrong time (so it doesn’t cost) them a chance to win the playoff twice.”