I admire C.J. Stroud.
I will never question his toughness, his desire or his passion for the game.
Through the first three games of the season, Ohio State's redshirt freshman starting quarterback has led the team to a 2-1 record while throwing for a program-record 963 yards in his first three career games as the starter. He seems like a really nice kid, he's confident (although a bit soft-spoken in front of the media) and he believes in his ability.
He also has Ryan Day's backing, which is critical for his development.
But Stroud has also pulled back the curtain a bit the last two weeks and acknowledged that his right shoulder is not 100 percent healthy. While it didn't become noticeable on the field until Week 2 vs. Oregon that his shoulder was giving him issues, it's my understanding that he's been dealing with soreness for much longer.
“I was healthy enough to play," Stroud said after Saturday's game against Tulsa. "Definitely not 100 percent, but who is 100 percent around this time?
"It hurts, but life hurts. Winning is tough. So I just have to grind through it. There’s been plenty of guys here who have grinded through injuries, and that’s just playing football.”
But I'm also not 100 percent convinced that he's "the guy" either. Perhaps I need to be more patient. Maybe its the recency bias that I'm struggling to navigate. Maybe his true potential isn't shining through because he isn't healthy. But while he's had some great highlights already, I am also concerned with some of the mistakes I've seen.
Here are my thoughts on the situation from a recent Buckeye Breakdown Podcast, including on why we need to trust Ryan Day to make the right decision here.
Regardless of who the Ohio State quarterback is, once the Buckeyes get through Akron this week and get back into Big Ten play, the level of competition is going to stiffen. While the defense continues to work through its early season struggles, it puts that much more emphasis on the offense to fire on all cylinders. And yes - the offense has put up some impressive stats through the first three games ... but in an outstanding offensive performance against Oregon, the Buckeyes fell short and have put their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.
Ryan Day said late last week that nobody cares how young the Buckeyes are, they need to have a sense of urgency and they can't afford to be patient. I agree ... and I think that has to apply to the quarterback probably even more than it does for the rest of the team.
Be sure to check out our new message boards, Buckeye Forums. We'd love to have you part of the conversation during the season.
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