COLUMBUS — The quarterback saga that has dominated conversations regarding Ohio State this offseason has reached a conclusion, at least for now, as head coach Ryan Day named third-year quarterback Kyle McCord the starter when the Buckeyes open the season at Indiana on Saturday.
During his first game-week press conference of the season on Tuesday, Day spoke of McCord’s improvements over the final two weeks of camp while also noting Devin Brown is still expected to factor into the game plan.
“I think Kyle has done a great job over the past two weeks of showing consistency,” Day said. “He’s played very well in practice. But Devin also, throughout the body of the preseason, has shown that he deserves to play. So, expect both of them to play. We have confidence in both of them. I think that’s significant, that we have two guys that we feel confident playing in a game.
“This is something that’s a little uncharted for me, but you just go on what you see every day in practice, and I think Kyle’s consistency over the last couple of weeks has allowed him to be the starter. He deserves that, but I also think Devin deserves to play in the game as well. How much and all of that is still to be determined, but we’ve at least come up with that conclusion.”
Asked how both quarterbacks responded to the news, Day said he met with them at the same time to announce the decision, and both agreed it was fair. “They both shared that they want to do what’s best for the team, and that’s great,” he said.
Meeting with the media last Monday following Ohio State’s second scrimmage of camp, Day was noncommittal to either McCord or Brown, saying he was still looking for a sizable gap to materialize between the two before he would be comfortable elevating one to starter status. Asked on Tuesday about the perceived gap as it stands this week, Day wouldn’t label the level of separation, saying only that McCord has done enough to be named the starter in week one.
How Day ultimately chooses to divide the repetitions on Saturday remains a question that won’t be answered until after kickoff. He made it clear, however, that neither quarterback should be looking over their shoulder while on the field for fear of being pulled after a mistake.
“I told both of those guys this isn’t going to be a situation where they need to worry about getting ‘benched.’ That’s not the case,” Day said. “They need to go play through some of that stuff. C.J. (Stroud) kind of went through it his first couple of games when he was here as a sophomore. You just don’t know how it’s going to play out. All we can do is just do the best we can right now, go win the first game, and how that looks, I don’t know how that will be. And then a week from now, we’re in a different place with more to go on, a bigger sample size, and we go from there.”
With the long-term starting quarterback picture still seemingly out of focus, both McCord and Brown will have an opportunity on Saturday to assert themselves heading into week two. If not managed correctly, however, having two inexperienced quarterbacks who are still actively trying to make an impression during live game scenarios could backfire on Day and Ohio State.
To guard against that possibility playing out on Saturday, Day said it will be imperative for both quarterbacks to understand Saturday’s performances will not make or break either of their chances of playing in the weeks ahead. Rather, Day said the quarterback situation has to be looked at as an ongoing development with the understanding that a lot of football is still left to be played.
“That’s not easy to do, but it’s something that we’ve talked about so that they understand this isn’t about one play or one drive. This is about the entire season,” Day said.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.