Ohio State football coach Ryan Day said he does not expect his next quarterback to be “super human” with a talented cast of skill players coming back this season.
Being able to run a little might be more important than it used to be, though.
“I think any time a defense has to account for the quarterback then you’ve got what you want done in the run game,” Day said.
That simply means he does not want defenses to be able to ignore the quarterback after he hands off, something that can be accomplished with bootlegs and the old zone read play, but in the passing game, Day sounds like he has more appreciation for a scrambler than he used to.
“What’s really the the X factor on offense is when the quarterback is moving,” Day said. “So you gotta get a feel for what that is, you know, how long do you stay in the pocket? When do you escape? When do you launch yourself for the first down? When do you protect yourself? Because it’s a long season. There’s a lot of factors and variables that come into it, and each quarterback is a little bit different.”
Those comments at least somewhat contrast the way Day spoke about the position for much of the last two years when C.J. Stroud operated almost exclusively from the pocket and even eschewed open running lanes at times.
Probably not coincidentally, they also come after Stroud opened things up in a College Football Playoff semifinal shootout with Georgia, running when he had to and keeping plays alive with his feet to deliver balls down the field during what was widely regarded as a masterful performance.
Ohio State lost to the Bulldogs 42-41, but Stroud perhaps solidified himself as a top five pick in the draft by showing another element to his game, and he admitted last week at the NFL Scouting Combine he might have been better off running more earlier in his career.
That’s a message that sounds like it resonated with his potential Scarlet and Gray successors.
“I think I’ve watched that game probably five or 10 times just because there were so many good plays in that game,” said Kyle McCord, a junior-to-be who was Stroud’s primary backup the last two seasons. “I think definitely if it’s there, take it, but at the same time we have so many weapons that I want to keep my eyes up and get the ball to our playmakers.”
The 6-foot-3, 222-pound McCord is generally viewed to be a strong-armed drop-back passer much like Stroud, but he called Stroud’s game against Georgia “a clinic tape.”
He also revealed he has been studying film of Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, all NFL quarterbacks who are known for their ability to make plays on the move.
“One thing about them in the pocket they’re always on balance no matter what is going on around them,” McCord said. “If they make quick, sudden movements they get right back on their platform, so those have been good to study.”
Devin Brown, a 6-3, 213-pound redshirt freshman from Gilbert, Ariz., is considered a greater run threat than Stroud or McCord.
He said that’s a part of his game he began developing more in high school.
After running what he described as a pro-style, under-center offense for coach Joe Germaine (a former Ohio State quarterback) at Queen Creek High School in Arizona, he transferred to Corner Canyon High School in Utah and ran a spread offense with more quarterback runs.
“Really we didn’t hand the ball off that much, but when I had runs, it was good for me just to be able to find my athleticism and be able to make guys miss,” Brown said. “But even since we were all like spread offense, I was able to when guys weren’t there make plays. And I think it just added on as the year went on.”
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