Ohio State and Indiana don’t have much in common. The No. 3 Buckeyes are annually vying for a College Football Playoff spot while the Hoosiers linger at the bottom of the Big Ten East Division.
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But when they open their seasons Saturday in Bloomington, Ind., each will have question marks at the quarterback position.
For the Buckeyes (11-2, 8-1 Big Ten last season), coach Ryan Day announced Tuesday that junior Kyle McCord won the battle over redshirt freshman Devin Brown for the unenviable task of replacing two-year starter C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft who was named starter for the Houston Texans.
Day said Brown will play against the Hoosiers: “I’d like to get him meaningful snaps and let him go. We have confidence in both of them.”
McCord was viewed as the frontrunner following spring practices, in part because Brown did not participate due to a broken finger. McCord was able to hold off his challenge.
“It’s not a sizable gap, but it’s enough to be named the starter,” Day said.
“Devin made a real strong push about 10 days, two weeks ago, and Kyle responded with some really consistent play.”
The Hoosiers (4-8, 2-7 last season), will counter with Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson, the younger brother of Indiana basketball All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis, or Brendan Sorsby. They have thrown a combined 10 passes in college.
“Both are guys we can win with,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said.
Either might be a placeholder as the Hoosiers await the return of Dexter Williams II, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the 2022 finale against Purdue.
The Buckeyes are replacing three starters on the offensive line but have a deep pool of running backs, and Marvin Harrison Jr. heads a premier receiving corps.
Their defense, led by Tommy Eichenberg, who Allen said is the best linebacker in the country, will test the Hoosiers’ inexperienced QBs.
Asked what he needs to see from those quarterbacks, Allen said: “I just want them to be confident and play with decisive decision-making. Preparation creates that confidence. There’s nothing you can do. You’ve got to play the game. There’s no other way around it.
“In that position, you’ve got to be in the fire and be able to have those opportunities.”
Allen hopes Ohio State’s unfamiliarity with his quarterbacks is an advantage but he also realizes the same can be true in trying to defend the Buckeyes.
“The unknown to me, when you think about quarterback-wise, I think it’s not very many times that we’ve had a (Ohio State) quarterback that we don’t really know a lot about,” he said. “So, I think that makes it unique.”
McCord, a teammate of Harrison’s at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, has completed 41 of 58 passes for 606 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in his career. He started against Akron his freshman season when Stroud was injured.
Brown played 15 snaps in two games with a run for a yard last season.
The last time the Buckeyes had a quarterback competition was 2017 when Dwayne Haskins was tabbed by Urban Meyer over Joe Burrow, who broke a bone in his hand less than a month before the opener.
—Field Level Media