“That’s the apex of the offensive line, and [Michael Jordan] has done a pretty good job. He’s a very serious guy, very good player. And he’s actually had a very good year.”
There’s no doubt that in recent weeks, the Ohio State offensive line has struggled as a whole. Against Penn State, Indiana, and Minnesota, the Buckeyes have had a difficult time getting any push up front and even getting pass protection for Dwayne Haskins. Several times this season we’ve seen a frustrated Isaiah Prince getting beat by a smaller defensive lineman, most notably against the Golden Gophers this past weekend. But despite the issues, there’s not a sense of panic among the coaching staff.
While the short-yardage situations continue to be a problem in which the staff needs to figure out, the truth of the matter is that Ohio State is still performing at a strong level on offense. Much of that is due to the exceptional play of Haskins, but that shows there are times where the offensive line is giving him time to make plays. Now it’s just a matter of consistency. And there’s no better time than over the next couple of weeks to get a handle on it before big games against Michigan State and Michigan.
“Yeah, I’m proud of both of those guys, and we take a lot of pride in our room. We’ll text every now and then and just talk to [Burrow] about how it’s going and stuff like that. Just encouraging and congratulating him. I think it was a hard decision for everybody — hard decision for Joe, hard decision for everybody involved. But we’re just happy that he’s able to go play and put his best foot forward.”
It’s been an interesting season for quarterbacks at Ohio State. With the quarterback battle raging through spring camp between Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow, the Buckeyes knew they had two legitimate players that could lead the team. In the end, Meyer and the staff chose Haskins and Burrow moved on, transferring to LSU. Of course, now both quarterbacks have their respective teams in the top five, playing at a high level. And better yet, they’re both rooting for each other.
Buckeye fans haven’t been shy about showing their support for Burrow, especially when he engineered upset wins over then-No.2 ranked Georgia, Miami (who was ranked No. 8 at the time), and a then-No.7 Auburn team. Haskins, meanwhile, has been what makes the Ohio State offense go—helping lead the team to wins over ranked opponents TCU and Penn State.
“We’re flipping the ball out there and making plays with it,” Meyer said. “And that’s kind of what Dwayne gives you. Maybe J.T. gave you something else, where it was more of a run-run option. This is a run-pass option.”
The ability to run the quarterback isn’t really a part of the offensive scheme at Ohio State anymore, and head coach Urban Meyer is figuring out ways to get the same effect, just in a different form. That form is now coming from run-pass options, as opposed to when J.T. Barrett was at quarterback, when it was just a normal read option. Haskins has a much better arm than Barrett did, but isn’t as gifted a runner as Barrett. So the adjustments have been made and the Buckeyes are still undefeated to this point.
When Haskins has been slinging it in the short passing game, it’s ending up in similar results, though it won’t show up in the stats as a run. Of course, the running game has been a tad less efficient than one might have expected coming into the season with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber not fully dominating. Part of that has to do with the offensive line, but also, the production of the passing game has taken a little away from what the Buckeyes can do on the ground. Defenses are starting to key in on stopping the run and living with the results that Haskins delivers.