COLUMBUS — There appears to be more clarity about Ohio State’s quarterback situation than ever before this season after Cardale Jones dominated the playing time at that position in Ohio State’s 38-12 win over Western Michigan on Saturday.
Jones got a vote of confidence from coach Urban Meyer during the week leading up to the game when he stayed with him as OSU’s starter when probably 80 percent of Ohio State’s fans thought a switch to J.T. Barrett was imminent.
Ohio State responded with what could be called a prototypical Cardale Jones game.
The Buckeyes have never lost in the seven games he has started. That’s big.
Actually, everything about a Jones game is big. He can make big plays, like his 38-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas to start Ohio State’s scoring on Saturday. And a 37-yard pass to Jalin Marshall for OSU’s second score.
He’s a big man to bring down, as Western Michigan’s defense found out when it tried to stop the 6-foot, 5-inch, 250-pound junior on his 10 carries.
And, when a flaw appears in Jones’ game, it tends not to be small, either.
Like the under-throw that became an interception in the end zone. Or a hurried backward pass that could have become a turnover if it hadn’t skipped out of bounds. Or heaving the ball into the tenth row and getting an intentional grounding penalty.
There is the possibility of high rewards but also, at times, the possibility of high risks.
Obviously, Meyer believes the rewards greatly outweigh the risks. Or maybe that the risks can be minimized with more experience and more instruction.
Meyer said Jones (19 of 33 for 288 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception) played “OK” against Western Michigan.
“I give him an O.K. because we have high expectations and he had a couple of turnovers,” Meyer said.
Jones said he’d grade his performance a C+ or a B-.
“There’s always room for improvement. I definitely feel like we took a step forward but there are so many more steps we need to take to put ourselves into position to play for a championship. I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. We’re not there yet but we’re definitely taking steps in the right direction,” he said.
“I want to just let the chips fall where they may and play to the best of my ability, lead this offense in a great way and try to avoid turnovers and three and outs.”
While Jones said knowing he would dominate the playing time at quarterback was a good thing, he did not blame the uncertainty of sharing time with Barrett for his struggles earlier in the season.
“It felt pretty good to understand you were going to take most of the snaps and not be pulled in between series,” he said. “But I don’t think it was harder getting into a rhythm earlier in the season. I don’t want that to be an excuse for poor play.
“I kind of put all that stuff behind me and got back to not just what got me but our offense and our team to this point,” he said.
While it appears Jones strengthened his hold on the starting quarterback job, at least one person claims to be unconvinced. That would be Jones himself.
“I didn’t need it for me personally but I think the team and the offense needed to establish who the starting quarterback is. I still don’t know who the starting quarterback is going into this week,” he said.