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In Cardale We Trust?

Cardale Jones has reclaimed the starting QB job. Will it last? - Photo: USA TODAY Sports/Matthew Emmons

Can Cardale Jones Make the Most of His Second Chance?

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. And then sometimes, because young people are really, really stupid... the Lord can giveth right back.

That's the narrative currently playing out in Columbus as Cardale Jones makes his return to the starting lineup for tonight's game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Unfortunately the change was made out of unfortunate necessity and not because Urban Meyer felt inclined to make the change.

Exactly one week ago today, news broke that J.T. Barrett had been cited by Columbus police for OVI and attempting to by pass a DUI check point. For Barrett, he had the unfortunate luck of being born in 1995. So not only did he miss out on things like Transformers, the good Jordan years, and 90's grunge, that also makes him only 20 years old and further compounds his piss poor judgement.

As a result, Cardale will get to start while Barrett serves a one game suspension. And not only that, this will be the first start all year for Cardale in which he will not have the threat of J.T. Barrett looming, ready to enter the game at the first sign of trouble. Tonight's game will be the Cardale Jones show and only the Cardale Jones show.

J.T. Barrett  - Photo: @JT_theQB4th
Buckle up, because if the 2015 season for the Buckeyes wasn't already enough of a roller coaster ride, we're about the reach the double loop section of the track.

There are numerous possibilities for how this plays out tonight. Most likely the end result will be a Buckeye victory. However, that's not guaranteed. While Minnesota has struggled on their way to a 1-3 record within the conference, this was a team picked by many to compete for the Big Ten West title and a spot in the Big Ten title game.

Unfortunately, between the start of the season and now the Gophers have endured a lot. But, perhaps nothing has effected them more than the loss of their head coach, Jerry Kill. Kill has suffered with seizures for years and the issue has only intensified in recent months, thus forcing him into an abrupt retirement. But still, by playing off emotion and for their coach, Minnesota could be trouble. If there's an upset to be had before one of the two Michigan games, this could be it.

Whether or not that happens will depend largely on the play of Cardale Jones. If Jones plays well and is able to move the Buckeyes' offense efficiently down the field, then their should be no issues. But, if Cardale is inaccurate, makes poor decisions, and generally plays in the same reckless manner we saw earlier this season, it could be a long day for the Buckeyes.

However, there is a real opportunity here for Cardale Jones. This is his shot at reclaiming the starting quarterback job for good.

Make no mistake about it. Urban Meyer is going to do what he ultimately feels is in the best interests of the Buckeyes over the long run. If Jones plays well, and I mean looks like the quarterback we saw last season, then he will have no hesitation in reinstalling him as the starter on a full-time basis.

Meyer didn't mince words about his displeasure with Barrett's actions, going so far as to say he considered revoking his captaincy before being talked out of it by other leaders on the team. In an added twist, he has yet to confirm Barrett will by under center next week when the Buckeyes take on Illinois. There's a reason for this open ended approach.

By not naming Barrett the starter upon the end of his one game suspension helps both Jones and Barrett. For Jones, this is an opportunity to get the best out of a talented quarterback who has struggled to repeat past success. For today's game, there is no looking over his shoulder and waiting for relief. A free Cardale, stripped of the constraints of paranoia might look like the guy we all fell in love with. Play well and the job is yours, young man.

For Barrett, this maybe reigns in the celebrity behavior that appears to be forming. Drinking and driving during a bye week, the very out of character "weenie arm" rant from a week ago, even the mysterious domestic incident from last year. For all the maturity Barrett has displayed, he has had his fair share of dumb ones over the last calendar year. This could serve as a monumental opportunity for personal growth for the man many believe will be the Buckeyes' quarterback for the next two seasons.

Can Urban Meyer maintain his culture of accountability?
Photo: Rich Barnes, USA TODAY Sports
Then there is the rest of the team. While there is no doubting the culture of responsibility and accountability Meyer has worked so hard to establish, keeping Barrett on the bench beyond this week would only help strengthen that culture. No one is above the team. Not the quarterback, the running back, or the middle linebacker. Not the first man on the roster or the last.

But, if he were to go back on that stance. If he simply gives Barrett his job back, particularly if Cardale plays well, then Meyer risks cutting his own authoritative legs out from under himself. And after that? Does that lead to Florida 2.0? Do the wheels completely fall off or the train derail the tracks?

Ok, perhaps that's a bit extreme. Maybe that's looking too far down the line to a possible future that is highly unlikely to come to fruition. But, that's how these things start - by playing favorites and a lack of accountability. How this plays out has the potential to shape the team not only the rest of this season, but perhaps even the next.

For now though, there is only this week's game to worry about and how the Buckeyes can defeat Minnesota. Run the ball to set up the pass - not the other way around - don't turn it over, and limit the Gophers' opportunities to put points on the board. If the Buckeyes can do that, and I fully expect they can and will, then this will be an easy W.
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