Ohio State blowing out weak opponents early in the season is not in any way new. The Buckeyes have been beating up on bad teams for decades, going back even to the days of Woody Hayes. What is new, however, is the way they’re doing it. In the first two games of the 2018 season, Ohio State has crushed Oregon State and now Rutgers, and in both games, they did it with a dominant passing attack. We could get used to that.
In his second game as a starter, Dwayne Haskins continued the momentum from his first game, putting up 233 yards and four scores while missing on just three of his 23 passes. To call that good would be a massive understatement. The season is still young, but Haskins has been everything Buckeye fans could’ve possibly wanted and more. That’s why for the second straight week, he tops our list of blue-chips stocks.
Dwayne Haskins, QB: Get used to see this name here, because I’m not sure he’s going to leave at any point this year. It’s hard to get much higher on Haskins after his awesome Week 1 performance, but he looked even better yesterday afternoon against Rutgers. In just about a half of play, he made excellent throw after excellent throw, striking on several long touchdown passes to Johnnie Dixon.
With his continued improvement through the first two weeks of the season, it seems like Haskins is only going to keep getting better this year. That could very well mean that he’ll find himself in New York come December for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, not to mention Nashville for the 2019 NFL Draft.
TCU next week will be a great test for Haskins, and if he looks great then too, it’ll be safe to go all-in on the redshirt sophomore as possibly the best passer to ever roll through Columbus.
Tate Martell, QB: Okay, so it feels a little strange to put two quarterbacks on here, but Tate’s performance was more than deserving. He was easily Ohio State’s leading rusher on the day, and he showed off some passing ability that we really didn’t know that he had. His deep touchdown pass looked great, as did his big touchdown run, and this was really the first time we’ve seen his explosiveness on display.
Tate is the backup, and will stay the backup, but this was still a super encouraging performance from him. I’m not ready to say that I’d be confident in him if he had to take over for an injured Haskins, but I feel much better this week than I did last week.
Shaun Wade, CB: Mark my words, Shaun Wade will be a full time starter before the season is over. As the official vice president of the Shaun Wade fan club I certainly have a bias, but in his first extended amount of playing time today, the redshirt freshman looked spectacular. He had a huge hit, and followed it up with his first career interception. His coverage was solid every time he was on the field, and he looked just as good, if not better, than any other defensive back on this team.
In this past week, Greg Schiano named Wade as someone who would be seeing more time, possibly as a nickel back or safety. Whether his playing time continues to increase is yet to be seen, but his play so far has certainly given Ohio State plenty of reasons to put him on the field more. #FreeShaun.
Chase Young, DE: His day may not have ended the way that he wanted it to, as he was ejected for a second unsportmanlike conduct penalty, but when Chase Young was on the field, he was dominant yesterday. Two sacks, including one that certainly looked to yield a fumble, no matter what it was called on the field and via review.
Young is still nowhere near a complete product. He tends to let his emotions get the best of him at times, leading to penalties; and in terms of actual play on the field, his run defense isn’t particularly good. However, Chase Young is already one hell of a pass rusher, and hopefully he won’t have to miss the first half of next week’s matchup with TCU as a result of his ejection.
Ohio State’s pass defense: Rutgers is not a very good opponent to get an accurate judgement of your team off of, but Ohio State’s secondary looked much better yesterday than they did against Oregon State. Jordan Fuller brought a much needed sense of security to the back of the defense, and all three starting corners put on good showings, including an interception for Kendall Sheffield off of a tipped pass.
You can’t hold every team to 65 total passing yards, but this is what we need to be seeing from this defense, and specifically this secondary. TCU and Penn State are both approaching quickly, and Ohio State will have to be able to limit Shawn Robinson and Trace McSorley in those games. They still have a ways to go, but this was a step in the right direction.
Johnnie Dixon as a deep threat: After years of waiting for him to breakthrough, it feels like everything is starting to come together for Johnnie Dixon. He was the hot hand today, hauling in a pair of deep touchdown passes from Dwayne Haskins, and racking up 89 yards on four receptions. He doesn’t seem likely to be a big volume guy this year with so much talent in the receivers room, but he may be finding his niche.
Ohio State needs a deep threat, touchdown machine, and Johnnie Dixon could be that guy. He’s blazing fast, runs nice routes, and it seems like he’s finally getting his hands to work well with the rest of his game. Let’s hope Dwayne Haskins keeps feeding him, and Dixon finally becomes what we wanted him to be when he arrived on campus.
Rutgers and offense: Rutgers may never score another touchdown against Ohio State. It’s been three years now since Rutgers last found the endzone against the Buckeyes. While they did hit a field goal yesterday, there seems to be no end in site to Rutgers’ three-year nightmare, as it extends into a fourth season next year.
Buy: Justin Hilliard, future starter. For the second straight week, the star of the second unit on Ohio State’s defense was Justin Hilliard. He’s a steadying force at middle linebacker, and while he’s not the elite athlete that someone like Baron Browning is, he’s as solid as they come. He finished with four tackles, and it feels like if there’s one thing this defense could really use, it’s a tackle machine at middle linebacker. Justin Hilliard deserves the shot to start.
Sell: Fielding punts. Fielding punts is bad, and no one should do it. CJ Saunders shouldn’t do it, Demario McCall shouldn’t do it, no one on Ohio State’s roster should do it. All punts should be allowed the chance to reach their full potential, and if that means just not putting someone back to field the punt and letting it roll, then so be it. Hell, dedicating an extra man to the punt rush could even help block a punt or two. I’m absolutely serious.
Buy: TV talk about Dwayne Haskins and Ohio State’s passing touchdowns record: Ohio State’s passing TD record for a single season is 35, set by J.T. Barrett last season. I don’t need to tell you this, but Dwayne Haskins has thrown nine through two games, which means that we will hear about that record, and how close Haskins is to it, every week for the rest of the season.
Haskins is currently on pace to throw 54 touchdowns in the regular season alone. If the Buckeyes make it to the College Football Playoff Championship Game, that number would go up to 67.5.