It’s time for Ohio State to make a decision on how it will proceed forward at the quarterback position.
Urban Meyer acknowledged as much after Saturday’s spring game, saying the coaching staff will begin having those discussions in meetings next week.
At a position where there hasn’t been much separation all spring, however, there didn’t appear to be much on Saturday, either – at least between the top two candidates for the starting job.
"We’re going to have to make some decisions. Those decisions have not been made," Meyer said. "We just got to do what’s best for Ohio State and what’s best for those players."
Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow both had their fair share of impressive moments passing the football, each tossing two touchdown passes and showing their ability to throw the deep ball, as they alternated reps with each other and with Tate Martell – with all three playing for both the Scarlet and Gray teams – in Saturday’s conclusion to spring practice at Ohio Stadium.
Haskins, a redshirt sophomore who is best known for his big arm and for coming off the bench to lead the Buckeyes to a comeback win over Michigan last season, completed nine of 19 total passes on Saturday for 120 yards and two touchdowns. While he said he will remember the throws he wasn’t able to complete, and acknowledged that his execution could have been better at times, he had a couple of throws that certainly stood out.
One came in the second quarter, when he threaded the needle to Jaylen Harris, past coverage from Marcus Williamson, for a 25-yard touchdown up the sideline.
Dwayne Haskins threading this strike to Jaylen Harris go give Scarlet a 14-10 lead. pic.twitter.com/Vh9k6m7U2r
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 14, 2018
Another one came in the third quarter, when he threw a deep ball over Sevyn Banks to connect with Binjimen Victor for a 43-yard gain.
Dwayne Haskins to Bin Victor I: pic.twitter.com/N0GyLHSgj7
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 14, 2018
Overall, Haskins feels like he has done what he needed to do to win the starting job.
"Everybody has the right to feel that way," Haskins said after the game. "I feel like I should be the guy, but I got to keep doing so until it's proven."
Yet it seemed like every time Haskins made a big throw, Burrow responded by making a big throw of his own. Shortly after Haskins’ touchdown throw to Harris, Burrow connected with Victor on a 30-yard deep ball.
Later, in the fourth quarter, Burrow connected with Demario McCall on a pair of deep balls, both of which went for touchdowns – one for 50 yards, and another for 42 yards.
Burrow finished the game with 15 completions on 22 attempts for 238 yards, all most among the three quarterbacks who played.
Meyer said after the game that while Haskins does have a "very accurate and live arm," Burrow’s arm strength has also improved substantially over the past couple of years.
"He has to be one of the most improved quarterbacks as far as delivery speed and arm," Meyer said of Burrow. "He’s always been a very smart, tough guy, and a very good leader, but his improvement is very notable over the last, really, couple years. That started a couple years ago, where you see the ball coming out much faster. So I think they both have very good arms."
Burrow said he understands that the coaches will have a difficult decision to make, but he believes he did everything he could this spring to show that he is worthy of the starting job.
"I think this was the best offseason that I’ve had since I’ve been here," Burrow said. "I think this spring I played just about as well as I could, I’ve put everything I had into it, and that decision’s for the coaches."
Martell has had his opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job this spring, too, and was actually the first quarterback Meyer mentioned in his postgame press conference. Ohio State’s coach was impressed with the athleticism Martell showed on Saturday, running the ball nine times for 59 yards. Meyer acknowledged that Martell must continue to improve as a passer, after the redshirt freshman completed just five of 16 passes for 28 yards and threw an interception on Saturday, but also noted that Martell spent much of his time in Saturday’s game throwing to backup pass-catchers.
"I thought Tate Martell showed his athleticism and has kind of caught my eye, really, since he’s been here, even more as of late," Meyer said. "He’s got to work, obviously, on his throwing the ball and etc., but a lot of times you’re throwing to young receivers and receivers that just aren’t productive right now."
As Meyer and offensive coordinators Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson meet to decide who their starting quarterback should be this year, they certainly could come to the conclusion that the competition should continue into fall camp. Meyer has also said, though, that he believes he owes Burrow – who has openly acknowledged that he will consider leaving as a graduate transfer if he does not win the job – an answer in regards to where he stands on the depth chart.
Burrow said Saturday that he will have to have discussions with his family about what he should do next if he is not named the starting quarterback coming out of spring, even if the coaches tell him that they have not yet made a decision.
"I came here to play," Burrow said. "I didn’t come here to sit on the bench for four years. And I know I’m a pretty darn good quarterback. And I want to play somewhere."
Burrow also said, though, that leaving Ohio State would be a very difficult decision to make.
"It would be really hard for me to leave," Burrow said. "I’ve put so much into this, and I’ve put my heart and soul into it, and if I were to leave, it would be pretty devastating for me. But at the same time, I would understand how they went."
Asked Wednesday whether he believed Burrow, Haskins and Martell would all still be with the team this fall, Meyer simply said that he hoped so.
"I hope so," Meyer said. "I’m going to just leave it there."