Skull Session: Deshaun Watson Talks Dwayne Haskins, K.J. Hill Nation's Best, and Todd Boeckman's Kelly Bryant Similarities

By Kevin Harrish on September 28, 2018 at 4:59 am
The Boys sing Carman Ohio.
© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

I crossed over enemy lines this week to talk about the big game with my good pal Bill DiFilippo‏ who lives over at

If you'd like to hear me babble 'bout the Bucks, here's where you can find it.


Word of the Day: Solipsism.

 DWAYNE IS READY FOR PSU, AND THEN SOME. Dwayne Haskins is preparing for the biggest game of his life this weekend against Penn State, but Deshaun Watson thinks with his talent, he could just as easily be preparing to face the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL game, right now.


After a late-June session in Georgia working with Deshaun Watson, Dwayne Haskins and Justin Fields, quarterback trainer Quincy Avery polled Watson for his thoughts on Ohio State's starter-to-be. 

“He’s a pro,” Watson said.

“What do you mean?” Avery said. “He hasn’t started a game yet.”

“He’s ready right now,” Watson said. “He can do it all.”

“You think so?” Avery said.

“Yeah, he’s probably going to be playing one season at Ohio State,” Watson said.


Not that Haskins is any stranger to that. The way the ball snaps off his wrist is a thing of wonder. Avery tells people frequently Haskins could be in the NFL right now based on pure arm talent. In fact, he can make throws many NFL quarterbacks can’t.

What separates Haskins is his ability to combine both touch and power. His power, the gift to throw a laser on a rope, is evident. But so is the throw with touch where he fits the ball over a linebacker and drops it in front of a safety. Just as importantly, Haskins can toss deep balls with an arching trajectory. The type of pass that falls into a receiver’s hands without them breaking stride.

Yeah, that all seems spot on to me.

We're four games into the season and I'm already at peace with it – Dwayne Haskins is absolutely gone after this season, so I'm not even going to bother worrying about it any more.

Let's just enjoy the ride as he lights Ohio State's single-season record book on fire, makes his Heisman campaign, and continues to smart bomb every defense he faces.

May this season last forever.

 BEST RECEIVER IN THE COUNTRY? Ohio State's got arguably the best quarterback in the country, two former 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield, and a right tackle Nick Bosa calls the best tackle in college football.

But none of those guys are the highest-graded player at their position, but K.J. Hill is.

This is just another example of how hilariously good the Buckeye offense has been this year.

Ohio State's offense has gone from a frustrating collection of things that never seem to all go right at the same time to a death machine whose parts always seem to work perfectly in perfect unison.

I'm not going to pretend to know why it switched – maybe it's Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, maybe it's Brian Hartline taking over as receivers coach, maybe it's Urban Meyer giving Ryan Day the keys to the offense – but whatever it is, it's pretty sweet and we should just keep doing it forever.

 TODD BOECKMAN KNOWS THOSE FEELS. The story of the week has been Dabo Swinney's decision to bench starter Kelly Bryant in favor of five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence, and Bryant's subsequent decision to transfer.

A coach benched a quarterback in the first month of his senior season after he led his team to the College Football Playoff the previous year, in favor of a highly-rated true freshman who's never started a game. The move feels unprecedented, and something signaling a new era of college football.

But it's not. It happened here in Columbus exactly a decade ago.

From Doug Lesmerises of

This wasn't the first time a senior quarterback took his team to the playoff or national title game the year before, then lost his job in the first month of the next season to a freshman.

Todd Boeckman did even more than Bryant. 

Bryant got Clemson to the semifinal. Boeckman took the Buckeyes to the BCS National Championship, where they lost to LSU 38-24 to end the 2007 season.

But when the next step happened to Boeckman, benched after the third game in 2008, he didn't transfer. He didn't have that option.


Boeckman stayed. As a captain. And he was forced to speak for his team even as he no longer was given a chance to play for it.

In that role, he took the stage after Ohio State home games and gave statements on games in which he didn't take part. Terrelle Pryor had taken his starting job. But Jim Tressel kept putting Boeckman, 13-3 as a starter, up there as one of the faces of the team.

I've always felt awful for Boeckman, because I never really thought it was his fault he got benched.

My memory of the 35-3 loss to USC was Boeckman getting pummeled by the Trojan pass rush play after play, giving him no real chance to do anything. With Pryor at quarterback, at least he had a fighting chance of scrambling away.

My good friend has a signed No. 17 Boeckman jersey that he used to wear on game days and I maintain that it's the second crispiest Buckeye jersey in existence.

He'll have break it out this Saturday to commemorate Boeckman's 2007 dissection of Penn State, when he went 19-for-26, throwing for 253 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception in the best Buckeye passing performance in Happy Valley in my memory.

 A MAN WHO CAN DO BOTH. Kirk Herbstreit is an extremely busy human between August and January, calling games every weekend in various part of the country. But he doesn't let that get in the way of seeing his sons play high school football.

From The Tennesseean:

"It's a once-in-a lifetime opportunity," said Herbstreit, who moved to Nashville with his family in 2011. "Your kids only get this chance one time. I told ESPN when the twins were in eighth or ninth grade that if the boys are ever playing on Friday night, we have to figure something out where I can do what I need to do on Thursday and Friday on location, then I need to get back Friday afternoon to their games.

"ESPN has been really good about that. They know that I am going to still show up prepared and ready to do what I need to do."

Herbstreit goes to practices on Thursday and meets coaches for the game he is calling. On Friday morning he attends a "GameDay" meeting, then tapes a couple segments that air on ESPN later that night.

And by 3 p.m. Friday he's typically on a plane headed to wherever the Big Red are playing. 

"It's awesome," Tye said. "It's really cool to have my dad there. He has to go through so much to make that happen. It's hard to fathom what he has to go through to get there."

The real story here is that the boys Kirk used to sit on the College GameDay desk as they made their picks are now old enough to play high school football.

I'm only 24 and damn, I feel extremely old.

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