Over the past four football seasons, we have witnessed many Ohio State football records fall. Joe Thomas Barrett IV entered the scene in 2014, saw the field for four consecutive seasons, and demolished the stat column. That’s what happens when you’re an intelligent, talented quarterback and lead an Urban Meyer offense for multiple years.
Barrett broke so many records that we became relatively immune to it in 2017. Heck, some of the fan base wanted to replace him as he cruised through another successful season and plowed through the school and conference record books. But, I suppose that’s a whole different conversation. The fact is, Ohio State is a blue-blood football program with mountains of history, and they’re in a heyday right now.
Though the Buckeyes are likely to continue their success, they no longer have Barrett at the helm. Many of the career marks that belong to the four-time starter are going to remain intact for quite some time. There are three single-season school records, however, that are bound to fall.
Record 1 – Passing Yards (Individual)
Although the 1998 Ohio State team only played 12 games, including a bowl win over Texas A&M, that was plenty of time for Joe Germaine to accumulate 3,330 yards passing. Though he didn’t look a day over 12 with his helmet on, that man could toss a pigskin. Once Stanley Jackson departed and Germaine had the keys to the car to himself, he certainly took it for a ride.
Prior to J.T. Barrett, who did it four times in 2014 and thrice in 2017, no OSU quarterback had thrown for 300 yards more than twice in a season. That is, no quarterback aside from Joe Germaine, who crossed that mark seven times in 1998. For as prolific in the pass game as they were, it’s crazy to think that Germaine, despite his time-share at the position, had as many 300-yard games as Troy Smith, Bobby Hoying, and Art Schlichter combined.
So, what makes me think a first-time starter can break a 20-year old record? Well, the combination of Dwayne Haskins arm and Urban Meyer/Kevin Wilson’s playbook, for starters. OSU has maintained a balanced offense, but their up-tempo attack results in plenty of opportunities for both phases.
Haskins clearly brings a different skill set to the table than his predecessor. Elon Musk and SpaceX constructed his arm, I’m assuming, from spare rocket parts. The young QB can thread the needle with passes, short and deep, unlike anything we’ve seen in over a decade.
On the other hand, he won’t be the short-yardage monster that Barrett was in his decade of leading the offense in Columbus. I expect some of that slack to be picked up by the dynamic backfield duo of Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins. However, I’d also be prepared for a barrage of quick, short passes to players like Demario McCall, K.J. Hill, and Parris Campbell to boost Haskins’ passing yardage totals.
Barrett crossed the 3,000-yard passing mark once in his illustrious career, despite some setbacks in his passing capabilities. Haskins has the same coach calling the plays, a better arm, and does not lose much yardage to the run game. The new offensive leader will surpass the 3,000-yard mark, and I like him to be above Germaine’s elusive 3,330 when the 2018 season is done.
Record 2 – Quarterback Sacks (Team)
Yes, I’m aware of what we lost to the NFL. Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, and Jalyn Holmes were (are) all fantastic players. They helped give Ohio State perhaps the deepest rotation of NFL-caliber talent in the country at one of the most game-changing positions in the sport. And yet, Ohio State may just improve its sack total from last year.
The 2017 defense accumulated 44 sacks as a team. That’s good enough for a tie for fourth-best in school history. The Buckeyes did that with Nick Bosa and Chase Young sharing a lot of time with the aforementioned defensive ends. Larry Johnson will have them on the field much more than they were in 2017. And, folks, that’s a scary thing.
In my opinion, those two were already the most dynamic pass rushers on the roster. In addition to them seeing significant minutes on the field in 2018, the middle of the line is back and improved. With Rob Landers, Davon Hamilton, and transfer Antwuan Jackson rotating at nose tackle, there should be little to no drop-off and fresh legs to spare. Similarly, the Buckeyes return Dre’Mont Jones (who could easily be practicing for his NFL debut right now), Haskell Garrett, and Tommy Togiai at the other tackle spot.
This lineup, once again, will give opposing offenses nightmares. There is simply no ability to focus or double-team without leaving themselves vulnerable elsewhere. In addition, OSU’s linebackers and secondary “only” provided 10.5 sacks last year. New Co-Defensive Coordinator, Alex Grinch’s aggressive schemes, combined with speed and athleticism across the board should boost those numbers.
47 is the current sack record for a season, set by both the 1998 and 2000 defenses. It’s my belief that this roster could hit 50.
Record 3 – Passes Completed (Individual)
Here we are, back at the QB position again. As much as I’d love to throw a rushing or receiving record on this list, the depth on this year’s offense at those spots won’t allow it. Ohio State’s skill positions are without a main star, with committees of talent instead.
Despite running a balanced offensive attack, OSU handed J.T. Barrett a large amount of pass completions. In his three full seasons as the Buckeyes’ starter in 2014, 2016, and 2017, he accumulated 203, 233, and 240 completions, respectively. Those numbers are good enough for three of the top five spots in Buckeye history, with his latest being the current school record.
As you might guess, those completions came, in part, because of accuracy. However, they also came from opportunity. Urban’s offenses hold four of the top five pass completion records in a season. They also own three of the top four pass attempt marks. Darn you, 1998, for the constant reminder of what should have been! But, I digress.
With opportunity abounding, and one definitive quarterback above those remaining, I see Haskins topping last year’s mark of 240. It won’t be by much, as I’d project him at 245-255 completions. His accuracy, the h-back role, and the returning talent around him should help guide him there in 2018.
And there you have it. It may not be Barrett-esque with regards to the amount of records we see overtaken this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see these records under new ownership after 2018.