Ohio State football: Are Buckeyes targeting more ‘pro-style’ quarterbacks now?

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

The signs have been there for a few years that Urban Meyer ideally would like to evolve his offense by adding more vertical passing elements. When Ohio State decided to stick with Cardale Jones following his national championship run, it wasn’t as much a reward for his performance as it was a glimpse at what Meyer seems to want from his quarterbacks as the next phase in his system. Jones provided a ridiculously strong arm to stretch the field, had the physical build to take hits or shrug them off in the pocket ― and more mobility than he tends to get credit for with his legs.

So, in some ways I think the pro-style tag is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to Jones, Dwayne Haskins or even early enrollee Matthew Baldwin. All three of those guys can move the football on the ground to varying degrees, whether it was Jones bowling over defenders in the postseason in 2014 or Haskins busting loose for a crucial 22-yard scramble in the comeback win over Michigan. Baldwin certainly doesn’t qualify as a true dual-threat, but the quarterback run game was a part of his playbook in high school at Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) and he has the ability to use his feet to get out of trouble.

Matthew Baldwin-Ohio State-Buckeyes-quarterbacks-depth chart-class of 2018
Matthew Baldwin passed for more than 4,000 yards during his senior season in high school. (Baldwin family/courtesy)

Where there has been any shift in philosophy, it’s likely that Ohio State is looking for signal-callers who will primarily rely on their arms instead of leaning on a heavy volume of rushing attempts. Both Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett set a ton of records and won a bunch of games, so there wasn’t exactly a problem with the previous formula, even if there were times the Buckeyes have been overly reliant on those two as runners. And it’s important to note that Meyer and his coaching staff have all previously and consistently pointed to the value of the quarterback rushing attack as a tool to balance the numbers against defenses. I don’t expect that it will ever be completely phased out of the playbook, nor should it be if it’s used in limited doses.

Again, that’s probably the real key for the Buckeyes as they head into the Post-J.T. Barrett Era at quarterback. Ohio State has two returning, high-end tailbacks with experience who should be carrying the load on the ground. And with a bevy of playmakers at wide receiver who came back looking to take the passing game to the next level, the job for the next starter will be getting the football in their hands more often and taking the top off a secondary. For all of Barrett’s strengths, he was always the first to admit that he couldn’t match the deep-ball ability of his buddy “12 Gauge” ― and whether Jones was labeled a pro-style or not, that trait appears to be a priority for the Buckeyes moving forward.

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