The Ohio State Spring Game was over a month ago, but Kyle McCord got his first live reps in over a year during the game.
McCord, like most of Ohio State’s 2021 recruiting class, didn’t get to play his senior season in high school. That means the last time he took meaningful reps was in 2019. While the Spring Game is basically just a fun practice, this was the closest to playing in a live game for McCord in a year and a half.
This was also the first time Ohio State fans got to see him in something other than his high school Hudl videos.
To describe McCord’s Spring game as succinctly as possible, he was better than expected. He is a very talented player, and that was never an issue. But he has only spent a few months on campus, which was his biggest obstacle to overcome. Nevertheless, McCord made an impression.
We did an analysis of Miller’s Spring Game a few weeks ago, which you can see here. This time, it’s McCord under the microscope.
Here’s what we saw from McCord in the Ohio State Spring Game.
Ohio State Spring Game Analysis: Kyle McCord
McCord on the First Drive
Everyone knew McCord’s biggest strength was his arm, and he showed it off right away. His first pass attempt was a 55-yard bomb to Garrett Wilson.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) April 17, 2021
The drive was short, though, and he only got one other attempt in his first possession. The next pass was from about 20 yards outside of the end zone and overthrew Jaxon Smith-Njiba.
That overthrow was a frustrating miss, as Smith-Njigba had his defender beat immediately. The receiver had ten yards of open space in front of him, but McCord put it over his head.
McCord ended the drive as Jack Sawyer’s first sack victim of the game.
McCord in the Rest of the Half
While McCord didn’t throw deep much for the rest of the half, he still showed off his arm strength.
His only other deep attempt was to his high school teammate Marvin Harrison Jr. McCord tried to squeeze the ball in between the cornerback and the safety, but it ended up being too low for Harrison to haul in. If he has tried to throw it over Harrison’s shoulder instead, then McCord might have had another 40+-yard pass added to his resume.
McCord’s final drive of the half started with five minutes to go, so it was a good look at the Buckeye’s end-of-half offense with McCord under center. On this drive, McCord completed seven of his nine passes and led the offense to the end zone.
The first thing that stands out about his performance in that drive was his mobility. McCord is probably the least athletic quarterback on Ohio State’s roster. His high school footage is reminiscent of an old-school pocket. Yet, McCord looked relatively fluid on his only scramble and used his feet to buy time on a few passing attempts throughout the drive.
Secondly, his willingness to throw the check-down was a good sign. Going into a three-horse race for the quarterback spot as the only true freshman, it would have been tempting for McCord to play with a touchdown-or-bust mentality. But he threw to the check-down a few times, showing that he was reading the field and not putting the ball in harm’s way.
Finally, his arm was live, whether he was throwing it deep or checking it down. When he made the decision to throw short, the ball came out of his hands in a hurry. He didn’t have to sacrifice power for accuracy, as he completed a good percentage of his throws. When he missed, he didn’t miss by much.
The final pass of the drive was a touchdown to Smith-Njigba. It was very similar to the one he overthrew on his first drive, except the coverage was even tighter.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) April 17, 2021
That was an important throw because it showed that McCord does have the touch to complete that pass. It was great to see him get a second chance at a pass that he missed early on, and get it the second time around.
McCord in the Second Half
The true freshman only got one drive in the “controlled scrimmage” portion of the Spring Game.
He completed all three of his pass attempts and threw another touchdown. Most of his passes were to wide-open receivers, but his vision and accuracy helped the plays result in huge yardage after the catch.
Overall Ohio State Spring Game Performance
McCord’s numbers for the day were 12 of 17 passes completed, 184 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and two sacks. That all adds up to a quarterback rating of 200.3.
Stroud had one more yard to claim the passing crown, but he had five more attempts and four more completions, and a quarterback rating of 173.4. By the raw numbers, McCord had the best day of all three quarterbacks.
McCord certainly has the talent to lead the Buckeyes to win a lot of games. Whether Ryan Day thinks he is ready now is to be determined. The most logical course of action would be to let McCord sit for a year while he tries to work on his touch and accuracy.
If there’s one thing he can do to help, it would be to work on his footwork. When he throws, his back foot is all the way off the ground, which means he loses some power from his motion. The fact that he does this and still throws as far as he does shows how impressive his arm strength is. But if he can work on his mechanics with his feet, then his accuracy inconsistencies will be easier to fix.
McCord is still an underdog in the race to win the starting quarterback job at Ohio State, but he will make a top-quality football player whenever he does get the chance to start.