College Football Playoff: It worked
Ohio State wasn’t even supposed to be in the College Football Playoff. Remember that bit of controversy? The Buckeyes jumped TCU and Baylor after blasting Wisconsin in the B1G Championship Game, and the Big 12 wanted a congressional investigation.
Then it was a no-doubter that the Buckeyes would be eaten alive by Alabama. Because SEC.
And Oregon? The Ducks had chewed up and spit out Florida State, its national-title defense and its 29-game winning streak.
What do you do, Cardale Jones? Cardale Jones has gone from third-string clipboard guy to national-champ quarterback. And with the three most recent B1G offensive players of the year set to return to Columbus in the fall, he could very well be back to the third string with the clipboard.
Which is why it’s not surprising to hear Jones publicly mulling over the idea of declaring for the NFL Draft.
The strong-armed, 6’5”, 250-pounder has all the tools, but even with three high-profile wins on his resume, he has all of three wins on his resume, which is to say, yeah, he’s a bit green. Urban Meyers and crew game-planned well around Jones’ strengths to minimize the potential for his weakness, lack of snaps, to do damage, and that running game (ahem, Ezekiel Elliott) would make a lot of us into winning quarterbacks.
That said, again, Jones has the tools, and he’d be a bit of a project, but what quarterback isn’t a project?
The knock on Mariota Heisman Trophy-winner Marcus Mariota looked average last night. OK, he threw for 333 yards on 24-of-37 passing, and was beset by drops, two significant ones snuffing out first-quarter drives that stalled Oregon’s early momentum.
Numbers being what they are, the knock of Mariota has been that he’s a, repeat after me, system quarterback. His performance last night didn’t do anything to silence the doubters. Oregon was in desperate need of a spark, and for whatever reason, Mariota wasn’t able to deliver, looking a bit spooked in the face of Ohio State’s pass rush, missing receivers in the Ducks’ red-zone trips, and missing badly in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
Which isn’t to say that Mariota benefits from returning for his redshirt-senior season. He’s as ready for the NFL as he is going to be. It’s just hard to project him higher than Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who ran a pro-style offense with responsibilities for calling protections and checks at the line of scrimmage, qualities that along with a strong arm and an ability to read defenses are those that define a potentially successful NFL QB.
Six Degrees of Separation National champ Ohio State lost this season to Virginia Tech, who lost to Wake Forest, who lost to Louisiana-Monroe, who lost to I-AA Liberty, who lost to I-AA Richmond, who lost to, yeah, you guessed it, among others, Virginia.
Virginia Tech, with six losses this season, is the gateway to quite a few of these, if you want to play along.
– Column by Chris Graham