2016 was an eventful year for Ohio State Football, with a young Buckeyes squad somehow navigating their way to an 11-1 regular season record. I argue that this was one of the more impressive coaching jobs in head coach Urban Meyer’s storied career. The issue was the offense was out of rhythm for much of Big Ten Conference play, and that is not something Meyer’s teams are known for.
I’m not going to go on a soapbox here and throw quarterback J.T. Barrett under the bus; he regressed this season, but it wasn’t all on him. Nonetheless, over the course of the last two seasons, Barrett has not been the same player he was in his first year under center. He is coming back for his fifth year of playing eligibility, probably for good reason on his part. That said, a change needs to be made at QB, and Dwayne Haskins is the man for the job.
Haskins, a four-star recruit from The Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, has had high praise since he’s been on campus. As a 6’3, 220 pound pocket passer, he can make all the throws a QB needs to have in his arsenal to play at an elite level. Linebacker Chris Worley expressed just how special this kid could be in an interview a few days ago with cleveland.com contributors:
“He can make some throws not a lot of NFL players can even make,” said Worley. “I’d be doing him wrong if I said he makes throws college players can’t make, when honestly he makes throws that NFL players can’t make.”
This guy is just what Meyer has been looking for in his time in Columbus. Haskins was a prominent prospect in the The Opening, Nike Football’s prestigious recruiting summit that features the best high school talent in the country. Learning behind a leader like Barrett, Haskins is more than worthy of this job for next year. He redshirted this year as a true freshman to prepare for being Barrett’s successor, and I believe that should be sooner than later. He is mature for his age, and it showed in the locker room following the loss to the Clemson Tigers, in which he was picking guys up, thanking teammates, and all the other stuff that comes with being a team leader at QB. Keep in mind: he wasn’t the guy playing.
I don’t know if he’s going to be Deshaun Watson, but Haskins is a player that could give this Buckeye offense a different gear. He is decisive in his decision-making with the ball, and has innate pocket presence that is difficult to teach. The offensive line did not protect Barrett well this season, however, there were a number of throws that he missed due to accuracy issues.
Haskins is a natural within the structure of the pocket, and he can fit balls into the tightest of windows, whereas guys like Barrett and current backup Joe Burrow simply cannot. He demonstrates both the velocity and pure arm strength down the field that could allow this offense and young receiving corps to get back to 2014-type potential. The offense could not stretch the field in 2016, so it made it much more difficult to pull away in games. This youngster brings that added dimension to an already dangerous offense with playmakers such as Curtis Samuel returning. Here is some of what he did in his last year at Bullis:
With Barrett under center, the Buckeyes won games, but they had to grind them out too often. J.T. has pretty much maximized his potential in Columbus, and that has been a whole lot of production. The Buckeyes got hammered against Clemson, though, because they couldn’t get anything going through the air when the offense needed a spark. With Haskins’ ability to read all levels of the defense and manipulate the safeties, wide receivers like Noah Brown and Binjimen Victor will get more separation. That is the key to throwing the ball down the field, and Haskins will not miss like Barrett was doing most of the season on downfield and intermediate passes.
In addition, he can run the read-option set, which is a considerable chunk of Meyer’s playbook. Haskins is not a dynamic runner, but he is productive enough to get first downs when the opportunities present themselves. He is also a great thrower on the run when is flushed out of the pocket, and that is something that is difficult for defenses to account for in passing situations. All in all, if this guy is our QB, the sky is the limit as to what this offense can become. It’s time Urban.
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