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Dwayne Haskins’ stellar debut exceeded our high expectations

The young quarterback threw the ball all over the Horseshoe on Saturday.

Oregon State v Ohio State

We all knew that Dwayne Haskins possessed the arm talent. And we all knew that the Buckeyes’ experienced skill players would make life easier for him, but we didn’t expect him to throw five touchdowns and complete 77 percent of his throws in his first start. From Ryan Day’s play-calling to the execution from all of the players on the offense, game one of the post-J.T. Barrett era could not have gone better. While keeping their trademark inside zone-based offense, but adding in a little quicker tempo and giving Haskins more freedom to throw the ball, the offense put up 721 yards and 77 points against a Power 5 opponent.

Dwayne Haskins Passing Chart vs Oregon State

Designed Runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions Total TD Scrambles Overthrows Throwaways
Designed Runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions Total TD Scrambles Overthrows Throwaways
0 33 18 8 3 2 3 0
Pressured Sacked Hit PBU Batted at LOS Drops Turnovers Defensive PI
3 0 1 1 0 0 1 1
*does not count tap passes
  • As noted above, things have changed since last season. With Haskins taking snaps from center, we will no longer see the typical 12-18 quarterback runs that took a toll on J.T. Barrett and the offense. Although they were productive for the most part, one could see the difference in the tempo and in the running game with Mike Weber getting 20 carries and J.K. Dobbins’ 15. Getting the ball into the two running backs’ hands instead of using the quarterback’s legs not only protects the quarterback, but the chances of big plays on the ground multiplies. It’s crazy to see Ohio State have 53 rush attempts and only four of those coming from the two quarterbacks.
  • The offensive line was the big preseason question mark, and although it was against the lowly Beavers, they kept Haskins clean throughout the game. I had Haskins at 33 dropbacks (not counting tap passes) and the offensive line kept him upright, as he wasn’t sacked, hit once and pressured only three times. The offensive line did an admirable job, but one could point to Haskins’ quick trigger and decision making, which was also a factor in keeping him upright. He trusts the play call, his arm strength and his receivers to be in the right spot even if they’re not open when he decides to make the throw.
  • It looks like a simple throw, but with the running game already making an impact, the use of play-action here shifts the linebackers out of the passing window where K.J. Hill ran his slant route. The combination of play-action, quick release and velocity behind the football makes the route unguardable. Hill was arguably the most impressive receiver on Saturday, and looks to be a favorite of Haskins’ (team-high 6 receptions).
  • Speaking of the receivers, this is the best group we’ve seen in the Urban Meyer era. Each player brings something different to the table, and Haskins seems to have confidence in each and every one of them. Their routes are clean, they catch the ball with their hands and they make plays after the catch. Haskins’ arm combined with this deep and talented receiver core is really something to watch — not to mention Ryan Day’s play-calling.
  • I can’t go a whole breakdown without some negativity, so here’s the lone real negative play for the offense:
  • It looks like Michael Jordan passed off the Beavers’ defensive lineman to left guard Malcolm Pridgeon, but he wasn’t ready for it. Haskins needs to be more aware, especially from an interior pass rusher, and should have seen the defender coming. Johnnie Dixon was open, but by the time Haskins released the football, his arm was hit and fluttered in the air over Dixon’s head and into the safety’s arms. Although this wouldn’t have happened if Pridgeon made the block, Haskins should have seen the defender in his face and taken the sack. Can’t turn the ball over in the red zone.
  • Overall, it was an excellent debut for Haskins and this new-look offense. The experienced skill players around the young quarterback are a huge help, and Day’s play-calling fits his players to a T.