New quarterbacks steal spotlight as No. 3 Ohio State and Indiana open their seasons
(AP) — Kyle McCord’s patience has finally paid dividends. He will be Ohio State’s starting quarterback.
Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby know who’s taking the first snaps for Indiana — even if coach Tom Allen chooses to keep it secret.
As the third-ranked Buckeyes prepare to face the Hoosiers in a nationally televised season opener Saturday, the two coaches have opted for different approaches as they choose new starting quarterbacks.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day announced Tuesday that McCord, who has been in Columbus one year longer than runner-up Devin Brown, would get the start though there is a caveat. Brown also is expected to play as the offseason competition continues into the regular season.
“It’s one thing in practice,” Day said. “You see certain things, but to get tackled and move the team down the field, finish drives, do well on third down, to do well in the red zone, that’s going to continue to play itself out during the season.”
The Buckeyes certainly have more margin for error with 16 all-Big Ten honorees returning this season including All-American receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. — McCord’s high school teammate. Ohio State also enters Week 1 with 27 straight wins over Indiana, the longest active streak in a Bowl Subdivision series.
Over the past two seasons, Allen has used six different starting quarterbacks at Indiana and seven overall. And no Hoosier has opened and finished the same season as the starter since Peyton Ramsey in 2018.
Indiana needs stability and consistency from one of its two second-year candidates: Sorsby, who threw six passes last season, and Jackson, the younger brother of All-American basketball player Trayce Jackson-Davis. Jackson threw four passes last season with Tennessee.
“You’re looking for a guy to command that side of the ball, lead that side of the ball and that’s with leadership and production,” Allen said. “So you’ve got to make plays and run the offense.”
Now, either Sorsby or Jackson will get a chance to topple perennial powerhouse Ohio State, which opens the season ranked in the top five for the 10th time in11 years, tied with Alabama for the second-most wins in FBS history (953) and visions of winning its first national title since 2014 — if Day finds the right quarterback.
“They knew when they decided to come to Ohio State, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Day said, referring to the quarterbacks who will be featured on CBS’ first Big Ten telecast. “They’ve been fighting tooth and nail to get on the field and that’s the exciting part of it.”
After watching the Hoosiers allow 2.3 sacks per game since the 2017 opener against Ohio State and only topping 3.6 yards per carry in one season over that span, Allen wants changes.
The return of right tackle Matthew Bedford, who suffered a season-ending injury in last year’s opener, may help. So will the addition of former Wisconsin offensive line coach Bob Bostad.
Defensively, the Hoosiers brought in bigger linemen such as 270-pound Andre Carter, a transfer from Western Michigan and a new defensive line coach, Matt Guerrieri, who has intel on the Buckeyes. He was an analyst last year for Day.
BACK HOME AGAIN
Harrison Jr. should feel comfortable in Indiana, the state where his father played his entire Pro Football Hall of Fame career. He even wore Indianapolis Colts colors for July’s Big Ten media days.
By mid-October, most of the Buckeyes should feel at home in the Hoosier State. Ohio State plays four of its first seven games in Columbus and the other three are next door in Indiana (Indiana on Saturday, No. 13 Notre Dame on Sept. 23 and defending Big Ten West champ Purdue on Oct. 14.) And if things go well, the Buckeyes could return to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the conference championship game.
Just three years after completing Indiana’s most successful football season in decades, the Hoosiers program looks completely different. Six total wins and no bowl bids over the past two seasons prompted Allen to make coaching changes and revamp the roster. Jackson is one of 48 newcomers this season, the Big Ten’s second-largest total trailing only Nebraska (62) under new coach Matt Ruhle.
REPALCE AND RECHARGE
With three starting offensive linemen off to the NFL, Ohio State has been looking for replacments. Redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman will take his first college snaps Saturday as the new center while Josh Fryar takes over at left tackle.
Running behind them will be old standbys TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, who are both on the Doak Walker Award list. Dallan Hayden and Chip Trayanum also are expected to play.
AP Sports Writer Mictch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.