The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about graduate transfer quarterback Gunnar Hoak? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
With the way Dwayne talked about how hard it is to be a QB in Day’s system how fast can we expect Hoak to assimilate to the offense enough to at least be a productive back-up?
— Charles Kangas (@KANGASMAN_FS) April 30, 2019
The process isn’t easy or quick, and just about every quarterback who has spent time learning under Ryan Day can vouch for the fact that it’s going to take some patience. The exact timelines can vary depending on the player, but one thing is certain: Gunnar Hoak is going to have a lot of homework this summer if he’s going to be ready for training camp.
Working in the Kentucky transfer’s favor is that he’s already experienced at the college level, so the level of responsibility he’s about to face at Ohio State shouldn’t catch him by surprise. Hoak may not know the terminology, the read progressions or all the protections yet, but he should have some baseline knowledge that will help speed up the process — and as a graduate already, will arrive with the benefit of knowing how to handle his time.
Now, that doesn’t mean the first couple weeks of August are going to be easy for Hoak. And Ohio State also still isn’t done uploading the entire database into the brain of another transfer as Justin Fields gears up for his chance to lead the offense, which could make for an interesting dynamic and a test for both Day and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich. It will be key for both guys to maximize the limited opportunities over the summer to absorb that information and develop chemistry with the receivers by organizing voluntary workouts, and Hoak will obviously be playing a bit of catchup in that department.
“Overall, this spring there were ups and downs,” Fields said leaving camp. “That just comes with the growing pains, like coach says. I just have to keep improving, keep working and I think we’ll be good come the season.
“I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. If I had to grade myself out today, I feel like it would be like a C-plus. I’m very hard on myself, so I’m kind of a perfectionist. But I just see us scratching the surface, and I definitely see us having a bright future.”
Depending on which former quarterback is asked, tapping into that potential can take about a season or more before getting truly comfortable operating the system. Tate Martell might have been exaggerating about the need for two years at Ohio State as something of a threat to scare off Fields before the Rose Bowl, but there is some element of truth to that. Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes have estimated that he was about 70 percent of the way to where they wanted him to be in running the offense last season, which is both a scary thought considering his prolific production and a reminder that it’s not necessary to know every possible play to be the starter or backup. Day and Kevin Wilson have proven they can design an offense to the strengths of a quarterback and what their guy is capable of doing, and it won’t needlessly bog down a game plan with more plays than it needs.
That efficiency in the learning process will help both Fields and Hoak heading into August when they really get down to business. By the end of that camp, then, there should be no reason that Gunnar Hoak can’t solidly settle into the backup role and at least provide some push to Fields on the practice field.
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