From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about our Unreasonable Expectations. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our Unreasonable Expectations here.
This week’s offseason theme is perfect for Ohio State fans, because typically we have unreasonable expectations anyway. Winning every single game by 50 points would still not be good enough for some fans, and I’m fine with that. Even though it’s bonkers, it’s good to have high expectations and I’d rather my team “disappoint” me with one or two losses than root for someone like Vanderbilt (no offense intended, Vandy, I just needed an example, and hey, you did beat Florida last year, which I appreciate).
Whether I’m supposed to write about my own unreasonable expectations this week or Ohio State fans in general, let’s go with both. My unreasonable expectations, and probably yours, are for this: whoever wins Ohio State’s starting quarterback job will play just as well as C.J. Stroud did last year.
That’s not just an unreasonable expectation. It’s a lava-hot take. But wait...is it? Since Ryan Day arrived, here is how the primary quarterback has performed in each season:
J.T. Barrett: 14 games, 240 completions/371 attempts (64.7% completion percentage), 3,053 yards, 35 touchdowns, nine interceptions.
Dwayne Haskins: 14 games, 373/533 (70%), 4,831 yards, 50 TDs, eight INTs.
2019 (Day became head coach at Ohio State)
Justin Fields: 14 games, 238/354 (67.2%), 3,273 yards, 41 TDs, three INTs.
2020 (COVID year)
Fields: Eight games, 158/225 (70.2%), 2,100 yards, 22 TDs, six INTs.
C.J. Stroud: 12 games, 317/441 (71.9%), 4,435 yards, 44 TDs, six INTs.
Stroud: 13 games, 258/389 (66.3%) 3,688 yards, 41 TDs, six INTs.
For the purposes of aggregating some numbers over Day’s tenure, let’s adjust Fields’ 2020 numbers as if he played 13 games — the average number of games that a Ryan Day starter has played since 2017. Here are Fields’ numbers for 2020 if you simply extrapolate his per-game pace: 13 games played, 257/366 (70.2%), 3,413 yards, 36 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
The numbers above tell me Day knows how to get production from talented quarterbacks. Whether Kyle McCord or Devin Brown wins the job is irrelevant. Both were four-star recruits. McCord was the 35th-ranked recruit nationally, per Rivals, and the No. 4 quarterback in his class. Brown (again, per Rivals) was the 37th-ranked recruit nationally and the No. 4 quarterback in his class.
Both guys seem pretty talented to me.
Fields, Haskins, and Stroud were all first-time starters, so that particular stigma hasn’t been an issue at Ohio State under Day. New starter or not, whoever wins the job should be expected to at least reach Barrett’s 2017 numbers.
The 2023 quarterback will be throwing to Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming, Cade Stover, Xavier Johnson, Carnell Tate, and other good pass catchers. The only thing that could conceivably derail the Ryan Day QB Train is the offensive line. I believe it will be decent enough for this year’s quarterback to produce, and the running game will help with that.
There are obviously many factors at play when you look at the numbers that aren’t taken into account. For example, Haskins led a team that struggled to run at times, which raises the passing game stats. However, Barrett was called upon to run often, so that perhaps balances out the Haskins year.
So, if this year’s starter produces just at the average level of the Day era, here’s what his stat line should look like at the end of the year (again, using the adjusted COVID-year extrapolation for Fields): 13 games played, 281 completions in 409 attempts (68.7% completion percentage), 3,782 yards, 41 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
Would you take those numbers today, if you could? I know I would.