Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card’

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And So Fourth

While the Ohio State football team is mired in a three-man competition at quarterback, true freshman quarterback Matthew Baldwin is getting a front-row seat to the goings-on. Still recovering from an ACL tear that he suffered as a senior at Lake Travis High School, Baldwin is watching first hand what his future holds once he is healthy.

This season, the Buckeyes don’t expect to need Baldwin’s services. A year from now, however, he will be competing to show that he belongs on the field.

When he does get that shot, how does he see himself fitting into the Ohio State offense?

“Kind of similar to Lake Travis, to get the ball in the hands of your playmakers,” he said. “I love doing that because I think the quarterback is kind of like a point guard because you can score sometimes too, but usually you like to be the one passing, the one dishing it to guys who are meant to do that.

“So I think Coach [Ryan] Day and Coach [Kevin] Wilson do that great. They know how to use their studs. They know how to use their skill and not waste any of it. So I’m really looking forward to getting into that.”

You (Haven’t) Changed, Man

One of those three quarterbacks vying to start for Ohio State is redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins. Haskins hasn’t been around as long as fourth-year junior Joe Burrow, but playing well in the Michigan game like Haskins did last season can sure age a guy.

While Haskins has never started a game for the Buckeyes, it wouldn’t be right to call him inexperienced. His performance against the Wolverines made him an Ohio State hero. His third-down pass-and-catch with receiver Austin Mack will be replayed for decades.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Haskins looked for Mack in that instance, as the two are roommates. Don’t worry, though, the Michigan win has only changed Haskins for the good.

“It’s the same guy. He’s goofy, he’s fun, he has a personality that’s an awesome dude, a good friend,” Mack said. “I love the man. You can tell his approach to the game is a little different. He has the opportunity to go start and compete for that starting spot at Ohio State.”

Interestingly, having that kind of relationship with Haskins allows Mack to be a little more critical of his quarterback if the situation calls for it, which is something that Mack wasn’t likely to do a year ago to J.T. Barrett.

“It’s a little easier to communicate with him,” Mack said. “Because even with Joe [Burrow], I’ve been around with him more. With J.T. there was a respect level. I can’t just come in and check him sometimes. If there’s a bad throw, I’m going to be like, ‘Hey.’ But no, it’s cool to have Joe and Dwayne and even Tate [Martell] as great quarterbacks who want to compete for the Ohio State spot.”

Next Man Up — Everywhere

The past two spring and fall camps, fifth-year senior offensive guard Demetrius Knox has had opportunities to win a starting job for the Buckeyes. Both times he was unsuccessful.

When called upon following a season-ending injury to starter Branden Bowen, however, Knox stepped in and played well. The battlefield promotion suited him well, but he credits the Ohio State football program for the preparation.

“Not necessarily just me, but I think that speaks volumes on the whole program,” he said. “Braxton [Miller] went down, J.T. [Barrett] took over. J.T. went down, Cardale [Jones]. Whoever goes down, it’s always next man up. So when that does happen and that person steps up, that’s just what our program is based on.”

Do Pass Go, But Don’t Collect the $200 (the NCAA is Watching)

New Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has talked about the advantages of coaching Buckeyes. The size, speed, and athleticism allows the OSU coaching staff to devise unique ways to attack offenses.

It also allows them some freedom to know that while not every call is going to be great, or not every play will be perfectly executed, they have the kind of players who can make the best out of a bad situation.

“Well, I think you can always default to it’s a get-out-of-jail-free card, because the kid will go make a play regardless of call,” he said. “And there’s an element of that to all sports and ours in particular. If a guy can throw off, make a tackle, he can find a way to make a bad play good for him, or make a five-yard gain stay a five-yard gain, or one that would otherwise make for 20 that we’re tackling for 10. So it gives you some tools in the toolbox without question. As long as you’re sound and putting them in the right position to be successful.”