By Jim Naveau
At almost exactly the same time Urban Meyer stood in front of a press conference in Columbus and said Cardale Jones would remain Ohio State’s starting quarterback, former Buckeyes defensive lineman Matt Finkes was in Lima, saying his advice to Meyer would be to choose one quarterback.
“This is my opinion, and Urban can run the team however he wants, but I think it does both of them (J.T. Barrett and Jones) a disservice to not let them prepare as a starter, whoever the starter should be. When those guys are getting half the reps (repetitions) in practice it does them a disservice by not letting them prepare fully in practice,” Finkes said.
“I think that is kind of what needs to happen, whoever it is. They’re equally talented. They both have their plusses, they both have their minuses. But I think you have to let one guy prepare as the starter, as the guy, and get all the practice reps.”
Finkes was in Lima to speak to a group of local doctors about the undergraduate opportunities at Ohio State-Lima, such as a bachelor’s degree in biology, available to students who plan to pursue pre-professional degrees. He is a development officer for OSU’ s Wexner Medical Center.
Finkes was a first-team All-Big Ten, a third-team All-American and a three-year starter on the Buckeyes defensive line during the mid-1990s. He played in the NFL and NFL Europe after Ohio State.
He is impressed with this year’s Ohio State defense. And, like everyone else, he knows the Buckeyes’ offense has some work to do.
“They’re just trying to find themselves,” he said about the offense. “You’ve got a new coordinator, you’ve got a new philosophy. So you’ve got all those things coming into play. I’m sure Ed Warinner is trying to put his own stamp on what he wants this offense to be.”
Finkes said he thought before the season kicked off that Ohio State could get back to the College Football Playoff. He’s sticking with that prediction.
“I picked them to get back to the playoffs. The schedule sets up that way. Obviously, the Michigan State game is going to be the real test.,” he said. “The other side of the conference doesn’t look to be that strong again, with Wisconsin and Nebraska.
“So, I think it’s set up well for them again if they can beat Michigan State at home to get back into that final four. And then in the final four, it’s kind of a crap shoot. We were the No. 4 team last year and we just came in and were so incredibly hot no one could stay with us. Once you get into that playoff format, it’s just whoever has the momentum at that point.”
“The defense, obviously, is playing a lot better. The front seven has been playing really well and I think it is allowing those corners to kind of grow into their role. Gareon Conley has been playing fantastic these last couple games. They’re playing with confidence. When you play two passing teams in a row, Hawaii and Northern Illinois, and you hold them under 100 yards passing, that’s pretty impressive.”
Another thing he finds impressive about Ohio State football is the way Meyer leads the program.
“Urban has a lot of fire. What he brings to the table is a great combination of what John Cooper was as a recruiter – a guy who can go out and bring in the top talent – and Urban brings that fire and passion that Jim Tressel had and maybe Coop lacked a little bit. He’s a combination of those people. But on game day, he gets after it.
“I played with Korey Stringer, Orlando Pace, Eddie George, Mike Vrabel, Bob Hoying and a lot of guys who played in the NFL. I think you’re kind of getting back to that now,” Finkes said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.