C.J. Stroud made his case in the Ohio State Spring Game to be the Buckeyes’ new starting quarterback.
Stroud has been the presumed starter for Ohio State. That remains true after the Spring Game. Even when he and Jack Miller were listed as number two-A and two-B on the depth chart last year, Stroud was the one who came in when Justin Fields needed relief.
Kyle McCord played well in the Spring Game as well, but he is still a true freshman. Ryan Day might want to give him more time to learn the system.
Stroud arguably had the best performance of the three freshman quarterbacks in the Spring Game. Miller didn’t do much to help his case, and while McCord put on a show, he probably didn’t do enough to win the job.
Stroud is so highly thought of, some gambling sites have him listed as a strong Hesiman Trophy contender despite the fact that he hasn’t thrown a pass in a game since his high school season in 2019.
The Spring Game, as is the case with all three of the top quarterbacks at Ohio State, was our first chance to see him throw since high school. Here’s what we saw from that game.
Ohio State Spring Game Analysis: C.J. Stroud
Stroud On First Drive
Stroud took over after a Miller interception, and showed off what he can do on the first play. Taron Vincent pressured Stroud up the middle, and actually committed a hands-to-the-face penalty. Stroud withstood the contact, and threw a 20-yard dart to Emeka Egbuka on the sideline.
Stroud’s second throw was again under pressure and threw a 35-yard lob to Chris Olave. That wasn’t Stroud’s most accurate ball of the day, but he put it where Olave could make a play on it.
He threw a swing pass to Miyan Williams, but finally found the endzone after only six plays on offense. Stroud threw the ball through a quickly closing window to Marvin Harrison Jr. for the score. While a seven-yard slant may not sound impressive, if he threw that ball late or off-target, it could have been an interception.
Stroud In The Rest Of The Half
Stroud didn’t have any plays as exciting, but he still showed off his accuracy and arm strength later in the half.
In his final drive of the first half, he completed six of his nine attempts and led the offense to the end zone. His only incompletions were to Mitch Rossi, a fullback converted to a tight end. Otherwise, Olave and Egbuka stepped up and provided great targets for Stroud.
The final play of the drive was a comeback in the end zone to Olave. Fields and Olave pulled off that exact same play dozens of times, so if the Spring Game is any indication of how well Stroud fits in with this offense, that’s a great sign.
Stroud In The Second Half/Controlled Scrimmage
Stroud only had one full drive in the controlled scrimmage portion. He went four for five, completing throws of ten yards or more three times. He didn’t have a touchdown, but Steele Chambers ran the ball in the end zone instead. Stroud had four complete drives in the Spring Game, and the offense scored on three of them.
Overall Ohio State Spring Game Performance
Stroud confirmed what everyone knew: there is a clear frontrunner in the quarterback race.
Of the three quarterbacks in the competition, Stroud has the best accuracy, the best pocket awareness, and the most athleticism. The only thing he lacks is superior arm strength, which is where McCord leads the pack.
Stroud will remind a lot of Buckeye fans of Fields. They have similar body types and skillsets, which makes Stroud a natural fit in this system. They both have pinpoint accuracy from close-to-middle range, they both have fast enough legs to extend plays and move outside the pocket, and they can both throw on the run really well.
But Stroud isn’t the front runner just because he looks like the last quarterback to play for Ohio State. Stroud is the most talented and most developed quarterback on the roster. He knows the system well, he can process information, and he can make the throws.
It’s clear why Stroud is the favorite to win the job. He showed why in the Spring Game, and he will look to show why he won it in September.