The Advocate asked a panel of media who covered Joe Burrow during his time at Ohio State to give us a better idea of what LSU’s new quarterback will bring to the Tigers this season. Here are their thoughts — from his limited opportunities with the Buckeyes, to his ability, to handling pressure, to why it turned out like this with his home state team.
1. In the limited opportunities he had at Ohio State, what did Joe Burrow do to maybe raise your eyebrows a little? Was it a particular play, or a series?
“So much of what he does impresses me. He's not off-the-charts great in anything, but he's really good in almost every area that counts for a quarterback. He is a good decision-maker, he's tough, he places the ball very well, he's a natural leader and he's a very good runner. He does not have a cannon for an arm, but he certainly does not have a weak arm and can make any throw on the field. He's a coach's son and plays like it.”
Michael Thomas, a former Ohio State and current New Orleans Saints wide receiver, spent one season in Columbus alongside new LSU quarterback J…
“With Burrow, it wasn’t so much one event as it was a progression of them. He really improved every year. His arm strength grew, he became noticeably bigger, and by the end, you could see he was confident in the offense to run it full-time. In the spring game, he looked every bit like a Power Five starting quarterback.”
“He saw such limited action, and none in pressure situations, that it would be a stretch to say there was any specific play in which you thought, ‘Oh, man, this kid is going to be spectacular.’ Probably the closest I came (to seeing it) was in his high school state championship game, in which he really was brilliant. He showed everything in that game — arm, legs, leadership, ability in the clutch. At OSU, he was solid enough in the games he played in during mop-up time. He didn't make big mistakes and generally wasn't asked to do that much. He showed a good arm and the ability to improvise with his legs.”
Cox Media Group Ohio
“He looked really good in the spring game, running the offense efficiently and taking some deep shots as well. He was pushing the ball down the field all the way down to the last play.”
Ohio State radio play-by-play
“Understand it's a very small sample size in live game situations, but Joe showed good accuracy when passing, and the ability to be a rushing threat when given the chance.”
2. From what you've seen and maybe heard, what were the qualities and skills that made Ohio State recruit Joe in the first place?
LSU's starting quarterback derby is a more crowded affair now with the arrival of highly touted Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow. But sophomore …
Biddle: “This is a young man that absolutely shredded high school defenses, and they play really good high school football in Ohio. Some questioned his level of competition during the regular season, then all of that went out the window when he basically carried his team to the D-III state championship game almost by himself. (Note: Division III is middle of the pack for Ohio; Division I is the largest classification; Division V the smallest.) He whipped up on very good high school defenses in the playoffs, and won the prestigious Ohio Mr. Football Award as a senior in 2014 from The Associated Press. Former OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman loved Burrow and spearheaded his recruitment.”
Piotrowicz: “I went to Ohio University in Athens (the best one, for the record), where Burrow played high school ball. His high school is not exactly a football powerhouse. Burrow had them one defensive stop away from winning a state championship. He was the type of high school player who immediately makes his team a contender, and he was athletic enough to survive in Urban Meyer’s offense.”
Rabinowitz: “The fact that he was a winner and was a coach's son in all the right ways earned him a scholarship offer. He was a prospect who was a little slow to appear on the radar, but he kept proving himself and proving himself. He has a solid arm, appears to read defenses well, can use his legs to buy time or scramble and has excellent natural leadership skills. I talked with J.T. Barrett about Burrow last year and he said Burrow had the kind of personality that allowed him to be friends and have a connection with all his teammates, not just the offensive players.”
Hartman: “He was Ohio’s Mr. Football as a senior when he threw for 63 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s got a good arm and enough athleticism to keep plays alive and run the ball as needed.”
Keels: “He was recruited because of his great high school success — both passing and running — and being the key weapon on a team that played for a state championship. Also, being the son of a coach (was big), which seems to rank high in the minds of recruiters.”
3. Have you seen enough of him to think he can handle the pressure and all the things that come with being the No. 1 guy?
Biddle: “I have definitely seen enough of him to know he can handle the pressure of being the starter at a top program like LSU that plays a brutal schedule. He is not someone who gets rattled. LSU fans will absolutely love him based on the way he plays and how he handles adversity when it comes along. This stage will not be too big for him at all — because he was almost the starter at Ohio State, and I have no doubt he would have flourished in that role in Columbus.”
DESTIN, Fla. — Once Joe Burrow decided to transfer to LSU from Ohio State, the common assumption across Louisiana was that the Tigers will def…
Piotrowicz: “Realistically, no, simply because he hasn’t played very many meaningful game snaps. But Ohio State is one of the few programs nationally where pressure is always cranked up to 10 no matter the time or season, and I think Ohio State’s coaches really did trust Burrow and view him as a quarterback who could win there.”
Rabinowitz: “I have very little doubt about that. He's not the type to get flustered and he won't flinch at the idea of being ‘the guy,’ which is what he wanted at OSU.”
Hartman: “Hard to say about anyone until they actually do it. He has some charisma and a chip on his shoulder. I think he was unsure of himself when he got to Ohio State, but grew in confidence as his career went on.”
Keels: “Can't answer the question about can he handle pressure of being the No. 1 quarterback since it hasn't happened. However, given he was in consideration for it at a place like Ohio State, that has to count for something.”
4. How good can he be if given the opportunity, and could he have eventually out-performed Dwayne Haskins?
Biddle: “I have always said Joe Burrow will be an excellent starting quarterback at the big-time collegiate level; I just wasn't sure if it was going to be at Ohio State or somewhere else. Now that we know it's at LSU, there is no question in my mind he will flourish in Baton Rouge (the nickname ‘Jeaux Burreaux’ fits perfectly, does it not?). Could he out-perform Haskins? It's possible, since the competition between Haskins and Burrow was so close. I think Haskins is better overall, but it's easy to see why this was such a tough situation for Urban Meyer. It is clear he loves Haskins, but he also loved Burrow.”
Piotrowicz: “A decent portion of Ohio State fans wanted Burrow to start over Haskins anyway. Burrow had a legitimate case for the starting job, and I think it’s entirely plausible that he throws for 25-plus touchdowns if he’s healthy. Is he a sure thing? No. But on the transfer market, he was the closest thing to one.”
Rabinowitz: “At worst, he'll be an adequate quarterback. At best, he'll be a star. There just is no way to know for sure, based on his limited experience, how good he can be. As for eventually outperforming Haskins, that's the unanswerable question. He doesn't have Haskins' arm, and he didn't rally his team over its archrival, as Haskins did against Michigan.”
Hartman: “He definitely seems to have the skills to be a top-level college quarterback. He doesn’t have the raw arm strength of Haskins, but it remains to be seen who will be the more consistent performer over the long haul. Burrow might be a better general distributor of the ball. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if Burrow ended up out-performing Haskins in the fall if he had hung around.”
Keels: “Again referring to previous answer, considering the status he held at Ohio State going into 2018, it's safe to think he could have performed very well. The only comment to make about possibly ‘outperforming’ Haskins, would be that maybe could have happened given he was in the system one year longer.”
5. Why do you think it turned out this way; was Haskins' game vs. Michigan the writing on the wall? Did it surprise you that it went sideways enough for Burrow to leave?
Biddle: “Yes, I think the way Haskins played against Michigan was the ultimate trump card. But there was more than that. Simply put, Haskins is the best NFL prospect Ohio State has had at the quarterback position since 1981 when Art Schlichter was a senior. Schlichter was taken in the first round (No. 4 overall) by the then-Baltimore Colts. Since then, there have been zero Ohio State quarterbacks taken in the first round of the draft. The "closest" was Bobby Hoying, who was a third-round pick by the Eagles in 1996. Haskins has first-round potential and will provide by far the best passing threat OSU has had at the position since Troy Smith in 2006.”
Piotrowicz: “Ever since Burrow broke his hand last training camp, I expected this conclusion. For me, it was clinched in Ann Arbor. I told everyone who asked that you had to pay attention to what Ohio State’s coaches did, not what they said. At Michigan, one of the two players went into the game without hesitation and won it. That always was going to carry the most weight. Ohio State really liked Burrow — just not as much as Haskins.”
Rabinowitz: “Haskins' performance against Michigan gave him the edge, no doubt. Given the importance of that game, showing he could do what he did in those circumstances gave him the clear edge entering the spring. By all accounts, Burrow played well, but it would have probably taken Haskins faltering for Burrow to overtake him, and it didn't happen. Burrow made it clear that he wanted to start and if he didn't see a likely path to that, he would pursue his options. So no, it didn't surprise me that he transferred.”
Hartman: “Everyone assumed he would leave if he didn’t come out of spring as the starter, especially since Haskins is younger than Burrow and Burrow can play right away as a grad transfer. He said he felt like the coaches handled the battle the right way in the spring, giving him an opportunity to win the job, but Haskins definitely started with a leg up thanks to finishing last year as the backup and doing what he did against Michigan. Meyer has said in the past he doesn’t like to replace guys unless they do something to lose the job. I figured that would be the tiebreaker in Haskins’ favor if things were even through spring, because coaches always prefer to have guys with real game experience rather than not.”
Keels: “It would seem that Haskins’ performance in the Michigan game might have been a determining factor. Joe was never in a game at Ohio State where the outcome was in question … all of his appearances were when games had been well in hand. Don't think it's fair to say ‘something went wrong,’ other than Joe's hand injury before the start of last season. Had that not happened, it's fair to guess that just as the year before when Haskins was redshirting, Burrow probably would have been the No. 2 behind J.T. Barrett. Add in the unique situation with his graduation and the ability to transfer with two years to play, and be eligible right away.”