“Arguably the most important position in sports and Ohio State has to replace a good one.”
There is really no denying that even though Dwayne Haskins only started 14 games at Ohio State, he is one of the most talented quarterbacks they ever had. His prowess in the pocket, pin point accuracy and slingshot of an arm led them to a 13-1 finish and convincing Rose Bowl win over the impressive Washington Huskies. To really no one’s surprise, Haskins left for the NFL draft after his first season as a starter.
That left Ohio State with a void at the most important position in the game. Losing J.T. Barrett hurt last season but with Haskins waiting in the on deck circle, few Buckeye fans were worried. Now with Haskins gone, many turned to Tate Martell. A short, explosive quarterback with bounding enthusiasm and a willing to be “the man”.
Then rumors started swirling that former five-star recruit Justin Fields, who at the time was the backup at Georgia, had entered the portal and was transferring to Ohio State. Not too long after that, Martell packed his bags for Miami and left Ohio State with just two quarterbacks and one of which had not yet been ruled eligible for the season. Since then, Fields has been ruled eligible and will compete with Matthew Baldwin but most people feel the job is his.
Fields has a mountain of potential but has not yet had a chance to showcase it. During his freshman season, Fields was 27-39 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran the ball 42 times for 266 yards and four touchdowns. These numbers are great but the sample size is too small, not to mention he mostly played against less superior teams. Haskins came in and provided automatic production and gave the impression early that he would be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Due to the Buckeyes current lack of depth at that position and Fields still being young and unproven, he will have to to exert the same amount of force on the rest of the country as quickly as Haskins did to set the tone for the whole season.
“Despite the program’s lowest point total in nearly a decade and the worst offensive efficiency rating since KenPom.com was created 18 years ago, the Buckeyes still have a solid shot to become an NCAA tournament team. They’re squarely on the bubble, and on the right side of it for now.”
Ohio State Basketball is an odd team. There is no denying that. They have some good wins on the year like Cincinnati, Minnesota, Creighton and at Nebraska but they also have some bad losses. This week accounted for two of them. They lost to Illinois at home for the first time since 2008 after they already beat the Fighting Illini on the road earlier in the season, and then they went to Michigan State and only put up 44 points, marking the second time this season they have failed to score 50.
Even with this week ending up worst case scenario, Ohio State is still safely in the tournament and on the correct side of the bubble. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has them as a 9 seed and Joe Lunardi of ESPN has them as a 9 seed as well. Even though that is probably not ideal for the Buckeyes as those current projections place them up against a one seed in the round of 32, but they are still safely in.
The Buckeyes are currently 16-9 and 6-8 in the Big Ten. They finish out with four games against top-25 teams and a home and home with Northwestern. As they sit at 16-9, if they finish 4-2 that will put them at 20-11 and 10-10 in conference play which will surely put them in. If they go 3-3, they are still on the right side of the bubble but may need a couple wins in the Big Ten Tournament to ensure their inclusion to the big dance. If they finish these last six games under .500, they are officially on the wrong side of the bubble and will need some help.
They have many opportunities to seal their spot in the next couple of weeks, and it is up to them to determine what went wrong this past week—and how to not let it happen again when the stakes are even higher.
“Either way, that unit should be in line to have an even greater impact for Ohio State with the top of the depth chart returning intact.”
It is no secret that Ohio State loves to utilize their tight ends. The Buckeyes have a history of productive and important tight ends that play a pivotal role in their success in conference and in the postseason. However, the production and numbers for this group last season were way down and they did not have much of an impact. Luke Farrell, Rashod Berry and Jeremy Ruckert combined for only 30 catches, 296 yards and three touchdowns with most of these numbers coming from Farrell.
This trio was fairly young last year and with the plethora of options Haskins had to throw the ball too and the experience of the receivers, it was not surprising to see the tight ends struggling to get touches. Now with the full trio returning and the Buckeyes losing many of those top receivers like Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell, there are many opportunities for these tight ends to step up and increase all of their touches. Expect all three of them to play a bigger role in the Ryan Day offense next season.
STICK TO SPORTS