Dwayne Haskins Impressed Jim Harbaugh, Michigan With Performance Against Wolverines In Ann Arbor Last Season

By Dan Hope on July 27, 2018 at 8:35 am
Dwayne Haskins
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO – Michigan didn’t know what was coming when Dwayne Haskins, with J.T. Barrett injured and Ohio State trailing 20-14, took over as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback in last year’s edition of The Game in Ann Arbor.

As seen in the Amazon docuseries "All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines," which followed Michigan over the course of its 2017 football season, the Wolverines thought Barrett’s exit from and Haskins’ subsequent entry into the game would be an opportunity for them to exert their control over the contest.

"We ‘bout to get his ass," a player said in Michigan’s defensive huddle. "They got 7 (Haskins) coming in."

The Wolverines, however, didn’t get his ass. Instead, Haskins led the Buckeyes to a go-ahead touchdown drive on his first series in the game, highlighted by a 27-yard completion to Austin Mack on 3rd-and-13 and a 22-yard scramble two plays later. Ohio State would go on to win the game, 31-20, with Haskins completing six of seven passing attempts for 94 yards.

That was the first game – and only game last season – in which Haskins saw playing time while the game’s outcome was still on the line. That performance, though, was enough to make him the clear frontrunner to be the starting quarterback this season now that Barrett has exhausted his eligibility.

It was also enough to make a big impression on the coach and players of the team that he beat – and enough to ensure they won’t overlook his talent again this year.

"I probably shouldn’t say this as a Michigan guy, but he was impressive," Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich said at Big Ten Media Days. "He did a great job. He beat us. And he led that team. When J.T. was down, somebody had to step up for them, and he did."

Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel – who didn’t get to play against Haskins for long in last year’s game, as he was injured in his attempt to break up the deep ball to Mack – admitted that he was surprised by how well Haskins played.

"He didn’t come in like he was a backup," Kinnel said. "He didn’t come in like he was a freshman. He came in like he was supposed to be there, and I think that’s what helped him. He felt good in the system, and that’s a credit to their coaching staff. They had him ready. Most quarterbacks don’t come in that ready, and especially against a defense like ours."

Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t directly answer whether he was surprised by Haskins’ performance, but he did say that Haskins "played very well."

"That’s not an easy thing to do, always, coming off the bench and playing good, but he did," Harbaugh said. "Good player. Stature in the pocket was different. He made some good throws, and he was athletic getting out of the pocket. He looks like a fine quarterback."

While Winovich was impressed by how well Haskins played against his defense, he also made it clear that he didn’t mean that as a slight to Barrett, who last year became the first Ohio State quarterback ever to go 4-0 as a starter against Michigan.

"J.T., I think he’s going to be missed for Ohio State," Winovich said. "First off, the man is a winner. Say nothing else about him, he knew how to get the job done, a lot like (Penn State quarterback) Trace McSorley."

Winovich does believe, though, that Haskins’ impressive performance against the Wolverines is a sign of things to come for the Buckeyes’ new starting quarterback in 2018.

"He looks the part," Winovich said of Haskins. "Some people have a presence, and he’s going to be definitely a force for them."

Kinnel also expects Haskins to perform well this season, but he also expects his defense to be more prepared to go up against him when Michigan makes the trip to Ohio Stadium on Nov. 24 for this year’s edition of The Game.

"Obviously, Ohio State should be excited about him," Kinnel said. "He came in, and he won the game, took the game over them and he did really well. So he’s a good guy. He definitely enabled them to win that game. And when that time comes, we’ll be ready for him and be prepared for him."

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