COLUMBUS, Ohio — A pecking order at quarterback has finally emerged for Ohio State.
At least for now.
A broken bone in Joe Burrow’s throwing hand has forced Urban Meyer’s, just a little more than a week before the Buckeyes open the season at Indiana. After a heated battle throughout spring practice and training camp this month never appeared to produce a clear, decisive backup to J.T. Barrett, an injury has given Ohio State one by default.
Burrow will be back this season, and he shouldn’t be gone long with the expected recovery time projected around four to six weeks, according to Land of 10 sources. Even a short-term injury, though, could have a lasting impact down the road if Dwayne Haskins capitalizes on some potential opportunities in the meantime.
“We’ll have a [backup] plan,” Meyer said as recently as Monday. “It’s not been finalized yet.”
The Buckeyes put it off as long as possible, which is perhaps a tribute to both players, given the overall confidence in a unit that has earned glowing reviews from the coaching staff this year. The situation can be revisited when Burrow is healthy enough to throw again, although there simply aren’t as many practices or reps available once training camp closes and the madness of the season begins.
For the most part, Meyer has steadfastly refused to give an edge to either of his top candidates for the No. 2 job — despite all the attention on the competition — given its ramifications for the future. Or maybe it’s been because of the scrutiny that he’s been careful not to anoint either Burrow or Haskins as the heir apparent behind Barrett, leaving open the door for a full-blown quarterback derby next spring.
Either way, Ohio State effectively has no choice now as it goes into the season with one of those options on the shelf. If anything goes wrong with Barrett, it will be Haskins coming off the bench to replace him. The trip to Indiana and the ensuing marquee matchup with Oklahoma might not provide much mop-up work to be done, but if that situation popped up, it would be Haskins getting tabbed for the relief work.
Those game reps could be invaluable for Haskins, the strong-armed redshirt freshman, to show what he can do in live action. Or, there’s a chance it might even crack the door for freshman Tate Martell after his performance in August led to his black stripe being removed amid praise for his growth and maturity.
Suddenly Martell is much closer to being pressed into action when it previously seemed like a redshirt was a foregone conclusion.
“Well, Tate is in the mix,” Meyer said last week. “Tate gives us a weapon. He’s done some really nice things for us.
“He’s still getting a grasp of the offense, so I’d say the true backup right now is between Joe and Dwayne.”
Unfortunately for Burrow, that slugfest never went to a judge’s decision.
It took a medical disqualification for the Buckeyes to make a call in the backup spot, and now Haskins has the chance to solidify that pecking order without any controversy.