COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer has a quarterback controversy on his hands. Still.
This was all supposed to be settled back in August. The nation was captivated by a preseason quarterback competition between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. Barrett led Ohio State to an 11-1 regular-season record and finished fifth in Heisman voting. Jones led Ohio State to three postseason victories, culminating in the national championship.
It was a question with no wrong answer, or so it seemed.
Three games into the Buckeyes' title-defense season, Meyer doesn't know who the starter is. Sure, Jones started the first three games. But after a poor performance in Saturday's 20-13 win over Northern Illinois, he might not get the start in Week 4's matchup with Western Illinois. But he might.
And that seems to be the crux of the problem. Meyer wants to play both guys, but the head coach admitted Saturday that there might be something to the suggestion that not firmly going with one guy has led to some struggles at the position.
"There might be some truth to that. Not that I'm going to call some armchair people and ask them what they think," Meyer joked Saturday. "But I do believe in game reps. And that's how players get better. And that's something that I'm going to spend a lot of time thinking about."
Neither Jones nor Barrett played well enough to earn a No. 1 job Saturday. Both quarterbacks and the Ohio State offense as a whole were out of sync, unable to do much of anything. As Meyer described it, the offense was "discombobulated."
Jones started but threw two interceptions in nine first-half passing attempts and was lifted in favor of Barrett. Barrett didn't play much better, completing 11 of 19 passing attempts for 97 yards. He had one brilliant moment on a second-quarter touchdown toss to Michael Thomas but also threw an interception that could have been costly in the third quarter had the Ohio State defense not responded immediately with an interception of its own.
The Buckeyes tallied just 136 passing yards on a miserable offensive day.
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So when asked who will start for Ohio State, Meyer had no answer.
"Good question. And I don't know that right now. I haven't had time to think about it."
Perhaps Barrett should have earned the starting job from the get go. After all, he was one of the nation's best quarterbacks during a terrific 2014 regular season. But that hindsight is especially sharpened after a day when Jones struggled. Jones was fine in the season-opening win over Virginia Tech.
Was a decision made Saturday night? Jones, who jokes on his Twitter page about being Ohio State's third-string QB — a reference to what he did last season after both Braxton Miller and Barrett were injured — changed that Twitter profile bio to read: "3rd String QB @ The Ohio State University Oh Wait, 2nd String."
That made matters even less clear.
What is clear, though, is that having two quarterbacks doesn't seem to be working. The switching between Jones and Barrett might not be having an effect on the play of the offensive line or the receiving corps. But it seems to be having an effect on the quarterback position. And after two weeks of lackluster QB play, maybe it's time Meyer finally got around to picking a winner of this quarterback competition.