It's become one of the most talked-about storylines as the college football season gets underway: Who will start at quarterback for Ohio State on Sept. 7 -- Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett?
Jesse Palmer has a very simple answer to that.
College football stories
"You can't go wrong with either one," the former Giants backup quarterback, ESPN college football analyst and special contributor for Good Morning America told Newsday on Wednesday.StoryPalmer thinks CFP will get better in second year
Palmer was on a call to promote the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes college football players for their off-field leadership and volunteerism.
"I think the hard part is really trying to get a fair evaluation of each guy, to try and put them in the most equally competitive situation that you can in training camp to really try to make the decision," said Palmer, who alternated playing time with Doug Johnson and Rex Grossman while at Florida.
On the one hand, there's the sophomore Barrett, who threw for 2,834 yards and accounted for 45 total touchdowns in 12 games last year. He was a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy before a broken ankle in the team's regular-season finale against Michigan prematurely ended his season.
"Up until his injury ... he was having the best single season statistically an Ohio State quarterback has ever had," Palmer said of Barrett.
Then there's Jones. The junior came on in relief of Barrett and promptly led the Buckeyes to the national championship, throwing for 742 yards and five touchdowns along the way.
"With his athleticism, he just has things you can't teach," Palmer said of Jones. "He reminds me a lot of Daunte Culpepper from an arm strength perspective, from a mobility perspective, and the different things that he allows this offense to do."
Of course, only one can start. So who does Palmer think it will be?
"If you ask me gut feeling, I think it's going to be Cardale Jones," he said, adding that "he gives them a decided advantage on third down, in short yardage, in the red zone."
There'll be temptation to switch off quarterbacks if one struggles, but Palmer says head coach Urban Meyer and the coaching staff will need to commit to a guy.
"You don't want either guy looking over his shoulder," Palmer said. "If you name a starter, you can't go out against Virginia Tech on Week 1 on a Monday night, then start struggling for a couple of series and bench him. You have to have full confidence that he's the guy."
Whoever gets the nod will be tasked with helping the Buckeyes try to repeat as national champions, a feat last accomplished by Alabama in 2011-12.
"It's very, very difficult to do", Palmer said. "But it's a team that has a lot of talent, and I think they have a very favorable schedule."