“I knew coming in I was going to have to compete and that’s what’s going to happen. But that’s what it’s about here. It’s not a bad thing, it’s welcomed. If you don’t want to compete, you shouldn’t come to Ohio State because they bring in a load of studs every year.”
- Ohio State quarterback Matthew Baldwin via Patrick Murphy, 247sports.com
There has been no shortage of turnover in Ohio State’s quarterback room as of late. It all started with the announcement that 2018’s top dual-threat QB Justin Fields would be transferring from Georgia to OSU, followed shortly thereafter by Dwayne Haskins’ decision to enter the NFL Draft. Now, after claiming he would have no issue fighting for the Buckeyes’ starting job next season, Tate Martell announced late last night via Twitter that he will be transferring to the University of Miami.
While Fields is expected to be granted immediate eligibility and be Ohio State’s starting QB in 2019, there is still another guy in that quarterback room whose role has become even more important. That man is redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin, 2018’s 12th-ranked pro style QB.
In the unlikely event Fields is not granted eligibility, Baldwin would be the Buckeyes’ starter without ever having played a down in college football. While the team would have liked to get Baldwin some reps in 2018 utilizing the NCAA’s new redshirt rules, a knee injury in December 2017 that required surgery limited his reps in spring practice and fall camp, ultimately eliminating the possibility of playing time.
Baldwin was a very successful QB at Lake Travis High School, that same school that has produced several Division I quarterbacks including Baker Mayfield. He completed 70 percent of his passes and led his team to the Texas state championship game before tearing his ACL on the first play. Even if Baldwin does not become Ohio State’s starting QB, he will still need to be ready for game action in backup duty should circumstance warrant a need for his services.
“That’s the Ohio State Martell committed to play for. That’s the system that Martell would’ve thrived in at Ohio State, and it’s the system that up until 2018, Meyer was married to.”
- Stephen Means of Cleveland.com on a change in philosophy for Ohio State’s offense
When Tathan Martell arrived at Ohio State, Urban Meyer’s offense was headed by J.T. Barrett, who like Braxton Miller before him was perfectly suited for a system that focused on option plays and the quarterback running the football. Now, Meyer is gone, and after finding great success on offense in 2018 utilizing a pro-style offense led by Dwayne Haskins, so too may be his style of play calling at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have been on the outside looking in when it came to the College Football Playoff these past few seasons, potentially as a result of unwillingness to adapt. College football is changing, and it can be seen best in the two teams that keep making the playoff: Clemson and Alabama. Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney have not been afraid to bench returning starters for guys who are just simply better than them.
They have also changed their style of offense a bit. Trevor Lawrence is a lot different from Deshaun Watson. Watson was more of an option QB, while Lawrence is more of a pocket passer. Both won National Championships, and both were a good indication of the kind of the style that wins football games during the time period they played.
Today’s style of college football is more suited to the Trevor Lawrence’s and Dwayne Haskins’ of the world. It has moved from ground and pound to air raid. When Martell came to Ohio State, the Buckeyes were still living in J.T. Barrett world. After seeing how successful Haskins was and under new head coach Ryan Day, the option-heavy offense is likely no more at OSU. The style that Martell came to play in Columbus is no longer the focal point, and so it was likely in his best interest to move on.
“He’s a force in the paint as well, exceeding both his offensive and defensive rebound totals to two more per game than he averaged a season ago. Wesson is Ohio State’s main game plan and target. And it’s something that other teams are very aware of.”
- Colin Gay of The Lantern on Ohio State’s reliance on Kaleb Wesson this season
It is no secret that Kaleb Wesson is the focal point of Ohio State’s men’s basketball team. The sophomore forward is averaging over 16 points and nearly seven rebounds per contest this season — both team highs. While Wesson has performed extremely well this season, the Buckeyes have gotten caught in spurts where he functions as their only source of offense, and other teams have quickly taken notice.
The most recent and most obvious example was Saturday’s loss to Iowa. The Hawkeyes went at Wesson in the paint early and often, getting him into foul trouble almost immediately and forcing him to sit for most of the first period. Without Wesson on the floor, Ohio State managed just 26 points in the first half, luckily being able to hold Iowa to 24 to stay in the game. However, with Wesson having to play more cautiously in the second half, the Buckeyes could not seem to muster any offense, and Wesson would finish shooting 1-of-5 from the field with just two points as Ohio State lost 72-62.
Their over-reliance on Wesson also becomes a problem when their opponent uses a zone defense. The only way to break a tough zone is to be able to shoot, and Ohio State’s guards have been unable to consistently hit shots to force defenders out of the paint, which would open it up for Wesson. C.J. Jackson has been dreadful over this recent three-game losing streak, shooting 11-of-30 combined from the floor in those contests and 7-of-18 from three. Keyshawn Woods and Duane Washington Jr. have been quiet as well, the duo combining for a total of 14 points over the last two games.
Ohio State will need to find more ways to score outside of Kaleb Wesson if they wish to turn things around this season. They will look to turn things around when they take on Maryland this Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Women’s Ice Hockey
A pair of Buckeyes earned Western Collegiate Hockey Association honors this week, as Andrea Braendli and Sophie Jaques both took home some hardware. Braendli earned the NCAA No. 3 Star of the Week and WCHA Goaltender of the Week, while Jaques was named WCHA Defenseman of the Week. Ohio State will travel to Minnesota Duluth this weekend for a series that will begin on Friday at 8:07 p.m. ET.
Men’s Ice Hockey
A pair of Buckeyes appear on the Hobey Baker Award fan ballot, as senior Mason Jobst and junior Tanner Laczynski are up for the honor. The two have each been named All-Big Ten, with Jobst earning All-American honors in 2017 and Laczynski an honoree in 2018. The duo are ranked among the top 20 active scorers in the NCAA this season. The Top-5 ranked Ohio State squad will travel to University Park this weekend for a two-game showdown with Penn State.
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