Quarterback J.T. Barrett is gone and he is taking his 164 rushes per season with him.
Before you start singing “Ding, dong the witch is dead…” however, you might want to slow things down a bit. The quarterback run, no pun intended, isn’t going anywhere.
Ohio State’s quarterback options this season are expected to be redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins and redshirt freshman Tate Martell. Martell is a dynamic runner with breakaway potential. Haskins, however, is more along the lines of Cardale Jones.
As the expected starter this season, Haskins’ running ability will come into play more than Martell’s. That’s not a bad thing, however, because Haskins can get out of trouble when he needs to. He’s just not necessarily the guy OSU can draw up running plays for as much as they did for Barrett and Braxton Miller.
But Haskins is still going to have to run the ball.
And even though it shouldn’t happen often, he may even have to run the ball as much as Barrett did at times.
“Well, heck yeah if you’re not blocking and he’s running around for his life the whole time, so I mean you know [it’s possible],” OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said this spring. “There’s going to be reads in the run game because the box is always going to get overloaded.”
Regardless of the differing characteristics of each Ohio State quarterback, math continues to be the universal language in running the football. Running the quarterback evens out the blockers, so they are never going to go away from it entirely.
There will be tweaks, however.
“So are the reads him running it or him taking it and throwing it?” Wilson said. “So there’s going to be reads, and based on the situation, there might be situations where I don’t care who the quarterback is, the quarterback is going to have to read it and pull it and run with the football. Period. No matter who the quarterback is.”
Haskins said this spring that he is ready for his number to be called in short-yardage situations. Yes, he would rather throw the ball, but you can’t play quarterback at Ohio State and not be willing to fight for that yard on fourth down.
If everything goes according to plan, the Buckeyes’ passing game this year may be more dynamic than it has ever been before. With the experience returning at receiver and the potential in Haskins’ arm, there is a ton to like. Urban Meyer, Ryan Day, and Kevin Wilson will take advantage of every one of Haskins’ traits.
Including his ability to run the ball.
“There’s going to be situations where a guy’s going to have to throw the football, no matter who the quarterback is,” Wilson said. “But at the end of the day you want to emphasize the quarterback’s talents of running skill sets and throwing skill sets as he makes reads.
“And it’s going to be a great offense.”