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How Dwayne Haskins is approaching Ohio State’s QB battle

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There’s a lot of speculation about who will be the No. 1 quarterback for the Buckeyes in 2018, but Haskins is trying to rise above it.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of focus since the final snap of the 2017 season on who will end up being the new No. 1 quarterback for Ohio State. After so many years of counting on J.T. Barrett, the three-time captain is no-longer an option, and Urban Meyer has said repeatedly throughout the spring that none of the three QB options have stood out enough to name the starter this far ahead of the season.

The three guys competing for the starting job are red-shirt junior Joe Burrow, red-shirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins, and red-shirt freshman Tate Martell. Burrow was the expected heir to the position, having earned the backup spot in 2016, but hand surgery ahead of the 2017 season opened the door for Haskins to get more heavily involved.

It was a bad year for Burrow to miss out on taking those garbage-time snaps, since it was in those minutes that Haskins developed enough to help lead the Buckeyes to another win over rival Michigan once Barrett was sidelined with an injury. Haskins’ performance throughout the 2017 season had some fans calling for him to take the starting job before Barrett was even out the door.

This is where things get tricky for Meyer and his staff. With a healthy Burrow back taking snaps, and Haskins already having in-game success -- not to mention, Martell’s incredible athleticism — the QB battle is apparently neck-and-neck-and-neck and the decision will be a big one.

Why are Ohio State fans excited about Haskins?

After taking a redshirt his freshman season in 2016, Haskins had fallen to No. 3 on the depth chart during spring practice in 2017. Burrow winning the backup competition was a bit surprising to fans who were expecting Haskins to come in like a young 12-gauge and start throwing bombs 70-plus yards. (He didn’t.)

But when Burrow was sidelined just ahead of the season, Haskins slid into the No. 2 spot and did everything he could to capitalize on his snaps in garbage time and stay atop the QB options behind J.T. Barrett.

Haskins saw playing time in eight games last season and went 40-of-57 for a 70.2 completion percentage, 565 yards, four TDs and only one interception. He also carried the ball 24 times for an additional 86 yards — he’s certainly no Braxton Miller, but I see him being a little more mobile than say, very-large Cardale Jones.

Haskins earned fans trust during The Game against Michigan, when he was able to fill in for an injured Barrett and lead the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind win over their rival.

During the spring game, the quarterbacks rotated between teams Scarlet and Gray, but Haskins finished the day going 9-of-19 for 120 yards and two touchdowns through the air, including a 43-yard long-ball. He may not have notched quite as many yards as Burrow on the day (238 yards), but Haskins also didn’t commit a turnover, so...

What is Haskins doing to earn the starting spot?

The quarterback won over Buckeye Nation when he committed to the program, and video surfaced of a young Haskins touring the Ohio State facility and talking about his dream of playing quarterback for the Buckeyes. Following in the foot steps of his favorite player — at least back when he was nine years old — Troy Smith, Haskins is looking to fully realize his dream and take over as the team’s starting quarterback.

After the spring game, Haskins spoke to the media about the quarterback competition, and noted that even though the team can’t really do football stuff ahead of fall camp, that he’s taking his potential role as the leader of the Buckeyes seriously. From offseason workouts to working with his receivers on Saturday mornings, he focused on “showing the coaches that I’m dedicated and ready to be in”.

Organizing workouts with his offensive teammates is a good first step in creating chemistry on the field, as well as to show coaches how seriously he’s taking the opportunity to be the starter. Haskins knows there is a lot more involved in being a No. 1 QB at a program like Ohio State, and even admits, “I feel like I’m ready, but I’m not ready.”

He explained further, “It takes time, you have to go through fall camp, and keep building our relationship, keep building the team. It’s going to take time to get there; it’s a journey more than it is a race, so we’re just working every day to get to that point.”

When it comes to putting in the work, Haskins has done everything that has been asked of him — and more — and at the end of the day, that’s all he can do. Burrow is an insanely talented quarterback as well, and Buckeye Nation is lucky to have so many qualified players to lead the charge. But what’s good for the team, isn’t necessarily great for the player, and we all know what can happen when a QB competition goes all the way through camp (cough, 2015 cough).

Haskins isn’t prepared to back down anytime soon, and while he’s not necessarily sick of talking about the QB battle, he’s “going to keep doing what I have to do until it’s no longer a question.”

How might the competition affect Burrow and Martell?

IF Haskins wins the starting job, there are pretty big implications for the rest of the depth chart. Joe Burrow is graduating from Ohio State this spring, and if he isn’t the heir-apparent for the starting job, he’s already made it known he intends to transfer -- and as a graduate transfer, he wouldn’t be forced to sit a year before getting back on the field.

With such high stakes on the line for Burrow, Haskins is well aware that the quarterback competition can’t seep further into the group of three’s friendship off the field. Martell is the young guy in the group, and he isn’t likely to go anywhere based on this year’s decision. Plus, the coaches have alluded to coming up with some packages to get him on the field.

“I mean we’re all fighting for the same thing, we all know that,” Haskins said after the spring game. “The biggest thing for us is still being friends at the end of the day.”

Putting a priority on their off-field friendship is important, especially for those who will still be on the roster in 2018. We all saw how quickly a backup QB can be called upon, and you’d be crazy to think that Barrett’s friendship with Cardale Jones didn’t at least contribute to the team’s success through the 2014 postseason.


So who does Haskins think will be the starting quarterback in 2018? “I feel like I should be the guy, but I’m going to keep doing so until it’s proven.”

Poll

After seeing all three play in the spring game, who do you think should be Ohio State’s starting QB?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Joe Burrow
    (1474 votes)
  • 32%
    Dwayne Haskins
    (814 votes)
  • 9%
    Tate Martell
    (227 votes)
2515 votes total Vote Now