COLUMBUS – Offensive tackle Taylor Decker remembers what Cardale Jones did last year in Ohio State’s walk through the day before the Big Ten championship game with amazement.
“He kneeled at the 50-yard line and threw the ball into the end zone,” Decker said. “It was insane.”
Ohio State is asking for more than eye-popping feats of strength from the 6-foot, 5-inch, 250-pound Jones on Saturday night against Wisconsin in this year’s Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.
Unbelievably, Ohio State has lost two Heisman Trophy candidate starting quarterbacks to injuries this season.
First Braxton Miller’s season ended with a preseason shoulder injury. Then J.T. Barrett’s ankle was broken against Michigan last Saturday.
Whether Jones can fill the hole left by Barrett’s injury is a big question. Equally big is the question of if the College Football Playoff Committee will think OSU is playoff worthy if it wins.
It’s a lot to ask from a third-year sophomore who has thrown 19 passes in his career. But that is 19 more than Barrett had thrown before his first start.
Predictably, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and Jones’ teammates say they are confident he can play well. They say he has grown since achieving unwanted notoriety for a freshman year tweet about not liking to go to class.
Recent OSU history says a quarterback’s first start usually is productive but not spectacular.
Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in his first start. Miller was 5 of 13 for 83 yards and two TDs and rushed for 83 yards his first time as a starter.
Terrelle Pryor was 10 of 16 for 139 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 66 yards in his debut. Troy Smith was 12 of 24 for 161 yards and two touchdowns.