Too many QBs good problem for new OSU coach to have

BY Marcus Hartman • February 5, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- New Ohio State quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck acknowledged he has heard the same question plenty of times since he was hired last month.

How is he going to deal with not one, not two, but three signal-callers with significant experience this fall?

"It's an interesting group," Beck said of senior Braxton Miller, junior-to-be Cardale Jones and sophomore-to-be J.T. Barrett. "The little bit I've been around them, great young men, hard working.  There's a tremendous bond among all three of them, which is a great tribute to (previous quarterbacks coach Tom Herman), what he was able to put together. They compete hard, because they want to win and they want to play, but they also help each other.

"So I think it will be interesting. I'm excited to get a chance to get to know the guys and look forward to seeing really what develops.  But I don't know, it's kind of a good problem to probably have right now, isn't it?"

In light of the situation at his last job, Beck is well qualified to speak of having the opposite problem.

He spent four years working to develop talented but flawed Taylor Martinez only to see the speedy Californian miss most of his senior season because of injury. While Martinez left Lincoln with a plethora of school records, he rarely got to show off the finished product he may or may not have been. The glimpses were positive, but they were too few to make a definitive final judgement.

Martinez's health situation left Beck to make do with a senior walk-on and a redshirt freshman in 2013, and the coach spent last season guiding Tommy Armstrong Jr. through the usually to-be-expected ups and downs of the average first-year full-time starter in the Big Ten. (Pratfalls Barrett, a fellow member of the Texas high school quarterbacks class in 2012, mostly avoided, it should be pointed out.)

Now Beck will find a much different situation as he inherits from Herman a group that can boast of a collective two Big Ten offensive player of the year awards, three conference quarterback of the year honors, three Big Ten division titles, one Big Ten Championship Game win and, oh yeah, the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship along with numerous school records.

Before he can get to the fall, though, Beck will have spring practice to begin his on-field work with the Buckeye signal-callers, and he does not figure to have an overabundance of numbers then as Jones may be the only one of the experienced trio to be full-go from a health standpoint.

While it was suggested not being able to see Miller, who is still coming back from a shoulder injury that cost him all of last season, and Barrett, who is recovering from a broken leg suffered in the final game of the regular season, could hinder his ability to judge who should be the starter come fall, Beck replied that duo's game film will help fill in the gaps.

"Braxton and J.T. have played a lot of ball games, took a lot of snaps," Beck said. "You could just put the film on and have the opportunity to evaluate those guys a little bit. And even really Cardale has played a fair amount, but there's still growth in all of those guys, there's no question. They'll be the first ones to tell you, if you would ask them."

While saying he has not considered if he could play multiple quarterbacks regularly next season, Beck described what he looks for in a starter, and it sounded a lot like what most coaches desire.

"Winning -- they've got to win," Beck said. "They've got to make the guys around them better.  They've got to turn the ball over and get the ball to the right guys. Usually that equates to winning. If they're making the players around them better, they're doing the right things, getting the ball to the right guys at the right time, getting us the right pressure, we're probably going to be winning. So that's how you're able to evaluate the production of a quarterback. It's the offense, it's not always him or his statistics."

Finally, Beck was asked if he is certain Miller -- who has the option to transfer and play right away somewhere else because he has completed his undergraduate course work -- will be on the team in 2015, and the coach answered with a firm yes.

Follow on Twitter @marcushartman


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