Ohio State Football: Finding Solid No. 2 QB Is Buckeyes' Toughest Spring Task

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IFebruary 18, 2014

USA Today

For a team coming off a 12-win season, the Ohio State Buckeyes may be one of the squads with the biggest question marks in the Big Ten entering 2014.

OSU's to-do list this spring includes having to find four new starters on the offensive line, solid playmakers at linebacker and something that works in the secondary. Those are all givens, but what may be the most important and toughest task will be finding a reliable No. 2 quarterback. 

If 2013 showed us anything, it was that a good No. 2 quarterback is a valuable commodityjust look at how the Buckeyes performed with Braxton Miller down for the better part of three games.

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Backup Kenny Guiton came in and arguably played just as well, if not better as a pure quarterback than Miller did. Guiton racked up 643 yards and 12 touchdowns in Miller's place, while also completing 68.8 percent of his passes on the season.

However, in 2014, there is no Kenny Guiton in the fold and only Cardale Jones returns with any sort of experience. That experience amounts to all of two passing attempts, though, so it's not as if there's a lot of experience returning.

OSU's quarterback stable is full of highly touted guys like Jones, who was listed as a 4-star, pro-style quarterback in the 2012 class. In the 2013 class, JT Barrett was a 4-star, dual-threat prospect.

Jones' forte in those games was running the ball, going for 128 yards and averaging seven yards per carry. However, let's also remember that all of those yards came in mop-up duty, with 104 of them coming in the two blowout wins over Florida A&M and Penn State. 

The good news for Jones is that he is the exact same age as Miller, choosing to attend prep school in 2011 to become a Buckeye in the 2012 class.

This offseason, the Buckeyes will also bring in 3-star Stephen Collier, another dual-threat guy to look at for the future.   

So there is talent, but it is all of the extremely young variety. 

The Buckeyes could go out and make a huge splash in the 2015 class, as they are currently in the hunt for 5-star quarterback Torrance Gibson. If they land Gibson, what does that say about the rest of the guys on the roster right now? 

Sure, you always want to hit on the best players you can in recruiting and adding Gibson improves the quality of competition at the position at a minimum, as Miller exits the program. However, it also isn't a ringing endorsement that you have the answer currently on the roster. 

That's what this spring needs to be about for Ohio State's offense: finding a guy who others can trust if Miller goes down. 

We've seen the durability issue spring up throughout Miller's career, getting hurt in the opener this past year and then gutting out an injury following a brutal hit in the Orange Bowl as well. 

Miller needs reps as a passer too, but he doesn't have nearly as much to prove this spring as he did last year. 

While Jones appeared to be the next man up last year, does that mean he's capable of leading this team for a game or two? What about Barrett, who redshirted last year? 

This spring will be the biggest audition both will get, and if one can emerge as someone that gains the confidence of his teammates, Ohio State will be in good shape for its future at quarterback. 

The fact is life will change dramatically for Ohio State after the 2014 season, as Braxton Miller will be gone from the Buckeyes program.

It all means that this offseason is very important for developing the guy that will eventually replace Miller as the starter.

Recruit ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for Big Ten football. You can follow him on Twitter @ andycoppens


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