Cardale Jones didn't know he got OSU starting QB nod until first series

ByAndrea Adelson via ESPN logo
Tuesday, September 8, 2015

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones says he had no idea he would be starting against Virginia Tech on Monday until the Buckeyes' first offensive series.

Both he and J.T. Barrett had helmets and mouthpieces on awaiting the decision from coach Urban Meyer after Virginia Tech punted to start the game.

"Honestly, we both went out in the huddle with the first play," Jones said. "We didn't know. I was taking a couple steps to the sideline, and [Meyer] was like, 'No, you're in.' When you found out, I found out."

Both quarterbacks ended up playing in Ohio State's 42-24 win, something Meyer said he would continue to do as the season moves on. Jones went 9-for-18 for 186 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, adding 99 yards and a score on the ground. Barrett threw and completed one pass for 26 yards, and added 40 yards rushing.

"We met twice along the journey in training camp, and [Jones] was ahead, and J.T. really closed it and almost nudged back," Meyer said. "But the way I looked at it, Cardale finished the season as the starter, and I started thinking for him not to take the first snap, he had to get beat out, and he wasn't beat out. It was very close, but we got two good players and they're going to play."

Jones started the final three games of last season, leading the Buckeyes to the national championship after Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan. His performance triggered a monthslong quarterback controversy because of everything Barrett accomplished as the starter in his first 12 games.

Barrett was Big Ten quarterback and freshman of the year, gaining a school-record 3,772 yards and a league-record 45 total touchdowns.

It also led to Braxton Miller moving to receiver -- a decision that looks like a genius move after what he did against the Hokies. Miller ended up with 140 total yards and two scores, including a 53-yard run that featured a nifty spin move.

Miller took snaps at quarterback as well.

But for now, the spot belongs to Jones -- although he does not anticipate the competition being over just yet.

"You have two great guys with experience and can lead the team in their own way," Jones said. "We put ourselves in a unique situation as a team with me and J.T. because of our talent and because our team rolls with each of us in the game."

Jones wasted no time justifying Meyer's decision to start him. After the Buckeyes forced a punt on the game's opening drive, Jones went 3-for-4 on a 64-yard drive that was punctuated by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel.

After another Hokies drive stalled, running back Ezekiel Elliott took the first snap of Ohio State's second drive 80 yards for a touchdown and quick 14-0 lead.

With the Buckeyes trailing 17-14 early in the third quarter, Jones broke out of a minor slump and hit on another big scoring play when he found Miller for a 54-yard touchdown to regain the lead. It was Miller's first touchdown catch since transitioning to receiver.

After Jones finished a 75-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown scamper that stretched Ohio State's lead to 35-17, Barrett entered and led a 75-yard drive of his own that featured a 40-yard run and ended with a 26-yard touchdown strike to Michael Thomas on Barrett's first throw of the season.

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