Ohio State Must Ride With Dwayne Haskins This Season for Better or for Worse

By Kevin Harrish on July 17, 2018 at 10:30 am
Dwayne Haskins is Ohio State's starter.

Much has been made this offseason about how a true pass-first quarterback in Dwayne Haskins will change Ohio State's offense after four seasons of J.T. Barrett.

Speculation is that with Haskins at the helm, Ohio State might air it out a little more, attack the outside and deep parts of the field a little more often and rely heavily on the talented running backs in the ground game.

It would be a new-look offense catered to the strengths of the team as well as the new signal caller.

The issue, however, is that Ohio State actually has gone with a pass-first, pocket passing quarterback recently, and the results weren't exactly spectacular.

In 2015, after months of #QBGeddon where Barrett and Cardale Jones battled for the starting quarterback job, it was Jones who walked out as the starter when the Buckeyes took the field in Blacksburg, Virginia to take on Virginia Tech at the start of the season.

Ohio State went with the big-armed, pocket-passing Jones ahead of the quicker and more agile Barrett. In theory, this should have meant the offense would look like the offense that blasted Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon on the way to a national championship with a deep vertical passing game and plenty of reliance on one of the best running backs in the country.

Cardale Jones

For a number of reasons, that's not what happened. Even with arguably the most talented Buckeye team ever, Ohio State struggled to move the ball and score. Ohio State scored just 17 points on offense with Jones at the helm against Hawai'i, 20 against Northern Illinois, and narrowly edged Indiana 34-27.

The offense never really clicked and the only solution seemed to be when the Buckeyes inserted Barrett as a sort of red zone specialist and ran a read-option heavy offense. Compared to the previous offense, it was so much more effective Barrett remained the starter the rest of the season.

Ohio State had a pocket-passing quarterback in 2015, but ultimately had to go with the security blanket of a quicker quarterback to mend the ailing offense. For better or for worse, that won't be so much of an option this time around.

With Joe Burrow gone, Haskins is the only quarterback on the roster who's ever even played a college snap. Unlike in 2015 when the backup quarterback was coming off of one arguably the most prolific debut seasons in Buckeye history, there's no real backup plan in this case.

Sure, if the offense never clicks, there will be fans clamoring for Tate Martell – there always is, the backup quarterback is the most popular player on the team – but for the coaching staff, that's a much less tempting or realistic option than Barrett was in 2015.

The Buckeyes will ride or die with Haskins in 2018. And based on how 2015 played out, that should be more good than bad.

Haskins won't be looking over his shoulder at his replacement whenever he makes a mistake, he won't have to share first-team reps this fall, and perhaps most importantly, the playbook, gameplan and playcalling should be tailored to him from the start when in 2015, the final quarterback decision wasn't even made until late in fall camp.

It won't be the first time Ohio State's gone with a pocket-passing quarterback under Urban Meyer, but this time there's no contingency plan. The Buckeyes are riding with Haskins, for better or for worse.

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