Skull Session: Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin Aren't Ready Yet, Keandre Jones is Eager to Play Ohio State and Tate Martell Struggles in Spring Game

By Kevin Harrish on April 15, 2019 at 4:59 am
BB Landers is a national treasure in today's skull session.

Ohio State Athletics

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First and foremost, I'm going to go ahead and take a victory lap for my absolutely flawless prediction regarding the spring game.

From Saturday's bonus spring game Skull Session:

As for the game, I'm typically a Scarlet loyalist, but I'm not about to pick against the first-team offense with Ryan Day at the helm in a glorified touch football game in the midst of a quarterback battle, so I'm doing the sensible thing and picking team Gray by 18.

Final Score: Gray 35, Scarlet 17.

Would you look at that? The Gray team won by 18.

The prediction was flawless, and I absolutely flaunted it for a while. But don't worry, my conceit didn't last long. I made a complete ass of myself less than 24 hours later while playing fake golf in proximity to no fewer than 10 professional athletes.

I don't do any form of golf that doesn't involve hitting a neon orange ball up an animatronic alligator's mouth. I actually exceeded my own expectations.

ICYMI

Word of the Day: Maladroit.

 DON'T FREAK OUT. I warned y'all not to try to crown a starting quarterback after the spring game, though I didn't really expect that to be pretty much impossible based on their performances.

Neither quarterback looked exactly *good* on Saturday. Justin Fields went a putrid 4-of-13 passing while Matthew Baldwin threw two pretty heinous interceptions with at least two more balls that very much should have been picked off but miraculously weren't.

The reality is this wasn't the Joe Burrow/Dwayne Haskins duel of last season. Neither of these guys are near as ready to start as Burrow and Haskins was last season, and that's fine.

From Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com:

Those two guys in Ohio State’s spring game last year? They would up going 23-4 leading teams that finished No. 3 and No. 6 in the nation, throwing for a combined 7,725 yards and 66 touchdowns. Haskins accounted for 75 percent of the touchdowns and 63 percent of the yards, so the Buckeyes picked the right guy. But that was battle of two sure things.

Whatever Fields and Baldwin do this fall, they won’t combine for 7,000 passing yards. If you were looking for that throw or that run or that moment Saturday that told you, “This is Ohio State’s quarterback,” it didn’t come, 98-yard touchdowns notwithstanding. This QB battle played out more like a JV version of Haskins-Burrow.

...

This was just the last of 15 practices, and a two-hour slice isn’t what spring ball is about, even if 61,102 people watched it. A year ago, Haskins and Burrow knew how to do the job. They’d been full-season backups before, and Haskins had subbed into the Michigan game. The issue was how well they did it.

Fields and Baldwin are still learning the basics.

“I don’t know the full playbook yet,” Fields said. “I’m working my hardest to learn it as fast as possible. The the stuff we have in right now I feel I have a grasp on.”

The best part is, despite all of that, both quarterbacks s had enough flashes and mistakes to make some fans absolutely sure who is clearly the better quarterback and fuel message board debates all summer. Hell, I saw some of those very comments less than an hour after the game!

 ON THE OTHER SIDELINE. Last year's Ohio State vs. Maryland game was a wild ride that the Bucks just barely escaped alive. Back then, Keandre Jones was like all of us, with his stomach doing somersaults as the Buckeyes tried their very best not to lose.

This year though, he's going to be on the other sideline (or possibly on the field) and he's excited for the reunion.

From Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic ($):

The game eventually moved into overtime, and Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Tyrrell Pigrome’s pass to Jeshaun Jones was off by inches, and Ohio State survived. Even though the Buckeyes won, Jones said he couldn’t even watch the highlight as ESPN looped it nonstop in the aftermath.

But that game was crucial, because it showed Jones just how close the program was, so when he decided to transfer, coming home was a simple decision.

“The boys at Maryland showed a relentless effort, and I was glad to see them fight,” Jones said. “Show the world they do have the capability too of coming out on Saturdays and competing with anybody in the Big Ten or NCAA. … Now, I’m here, and I’m looking forward to that Ohio State game later on in the future.

Jones is awaiting a decision on his waiver for immediate eligibility, but I fully expect him to get it because players transferring from Ohio State get immediate eligibility at what feels like a 90 percent rate, probably because Gene Smith typically doesn't contest those cases.

I feel for Jones and hope he has success over in Maryland. I thought he had a ton of potential as a freshman and was really coming along towards the end of the season, but his development seemed to just completely stop the next two seasons for some totally unknown and very mysterious reason.

 GRASS AIN'T ALWAYS GREENER. I know we've decided as a community not to care about Tate Martell anymore, but I just can't stop. Especially when my Saturday afternoon Twitter timeline turns into a Tate trollfest.

See, Ohio State's quarterbacks didn't exactly have a magnificent spring game by any means, but from the reports coming out of Miami, they both looked like Dan Marino and John Elway by comparison.

Here's a more complete breakdown of Martell's spring game performance from Susan Miller Degnan and David Wilson of the Miami Herald:

It was a rough public debut for Tate Martell. His first pass was a wobbler for Miami’s first three-and-out of the game. His first series against the Hurricanes’ first-team defense ended with an interception by defensive back DJ Ivey, when the quarterback threw into heavy traffic. One fan tried to start an “Overrated” chant for the highly touted transfer from the Ohio State Buckeyes, but no one followed,

Even in the second half when Miami let Martell run its second-team offense against the third-team defense, the redshirt junior struggled to move the ball. On his first drive of the third quarter, Martell began with a throw behind a receiver, tripped while going back for a play-action pass, then threw a third-down pass about 10 yards short of his target. Maybe the ball was tipped on a couple of those wobbly throws, but that’s an issue, too, for the 5-foot-11 quarterback.

The worse news for Martell is that fellow quarterbacks Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry (both younger than Martell) have reportedly been impressive in practice and played very well on Saturday.

Personally, I want Tate to win the starting job down there because I think college football would be much more interesting with him as the starting quarterback at The U. But what a wild turn of events it would be if he didn't.

 “THAT SHIT KINDA HURTS.” I'll admit, I was skeptical of Ryan Day harvesting part of the Michigan brain trust that engineered the turn-style defense leading to a 62-point Buckeye barrage. But after a few months of watching Wolverine players and coaches lose their damn minds about the betrayal, I've decided it's actually amazing.

"Why ever would he take a huge pay raise to become a coordinator of a team that's a perennial playoff contender and has kicked our ass as long as I've been alive? I'll never forgive him for that!"

 AT LEAST SHE GOT A RING. Getting engaged in front of 60,000 people is fine and good, but Drue Chrisman's fiancé was at least a little peeved she didn't get to take part in the kicking competition she was promised.

Ever the gentleman, Drue gave her the chance.

Worth noting: she hit the long snapper in the ass with her kick and it somehow isn't the least athletic thing in this Skull Session, thanks to my golf prowess.

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