Ohio State Buckeyes: Ryan Day explains why he still hasn’t picked a starting QB

COLUMBUS — Eighteen days after starting preseason practice, Ohio State football coach Ryan Day still has not picked a quarterback.

He was surprisingly open about why that is the case Monday.

“So both graded out as champions in the last scrimmage,” Day said of Kyle McCord and Devin Brown. “Both have gotten better, but to this point right now as honestly as I can say it, there’s not one that’s won the job, and there’s not one that’s lost the job. There’s been times in this camp where I’ve felt like one was going to take over and the other one came back. It’s like a horse race where they just kept pulling away and the other one would catch up.”

McCord, a junior from Philadelphia, entered the season as the perceived leader, though that was largely because of his extra two years in the system and the fact he was C.J. Stroud’s backup last season.

Brown, a redshirt freshman from Arizona, always was presumed to have a real chance to win the job, thanks in large part to his perceived advantage in athleticism.

“I think first off, our coaching staff feels confident with both of them, which is exciting,” Day said. “I think this is two good players getting after it, and I think they’re making each other better.”

Day said all along he would prefer to have a starter sooner than later, but he allowed at Big Ten Football Media Days in July he would consider playing both in the season-opening game at Indiana if the battle led him that direction.

With that game less than two weeks away, that possibility seems to be getting closer to a reality.

“So what does that mean? Well, I think that it’s going to continue to go on this week, and we’ll go from there,” Day said. “Is there a chance both could play in the first game? I think the answer is yes, there’s a chance. But we’re gonna keep working. We don’t have to make that decision right now, but I can tell you I am pleased with their progress, and our staff feels strong with both of them playing. Where it goes? We’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

He also hinted in a battle this close, the reality of game action might be what it takes to clarify who should be his guy.

“We’ve talked about this before: You don’t know until you get into a game what exactly you have,” Day said. “Practice is good. Practice gives us a snapshot of what you’re going to see in a game, but once you start getting tackled and you’re in the situations and you’re live that’s a whole ‘nother thing. So we’ll just keep trying to figure it out one day at a time.”

That might sound like coach-speak, but it is something most coaches repeat with great consistency.

With football trending toward less and less contact in preseason practices, it might be getting more true with time as well.

Day has not been part of a two-quarterback system in his time at Ohio State, which began with him as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2017, but going into the season without a defined starter is not unprecedented for the Buckeyes.

In 2015, Urban Meyer tapped Cardale Jones over J.T. Barrett for the opener at Virginia Tech, but Barrett ultimately overtook him later in the season.

Ohio State actually used two quarterbacks all season in 1996 and ‘97 with Stanley Jackson starting nearly every game and Joe Germaine (who ironically coached Brown early in his high school career) coming off the bench.

Day said he did not anticipate any sharing of snaps to continue deep into the season even if that is how it starts.

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