Tate Martell Getting Better Every Day for the Buckeyes

Tate Martell Ohio State Football Buckeyes

When Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow decided to transfer to LSU this spring, he made a murky position room much clearer.

With Burrow, Dwayne Haskins, and Tate Martell competing for the starting job in the spring, questions arose from every corner. Who is in the lead? Which guy gives you the best chance of winning? What will the offense look like with _____ at quarterback? How do you find snaps for three guys? Is there a danger of a split locker room?

But in an instance, all of hand-wringing went away. With Burrow off to Baton Rouge, Haskins ascended to the unquestioned starting spot and Martell landed as his backup.

This being Ohio State, however, there is still going to be a competition between Haskins and Martell. Their current situation as starter and backup is based on their respective performances in the winter and the spring — and probably a second half in Ann Arbor last November.

Because of his experience, Haskins started out ahead of Martell, and following spring ball that is where he remained. But the three quarterbacks shared reps evenly throughout camp, which allowed them all to make strides.

Following the spring, and seeing the way each of the quarterbacks performed in the spring game, there was no surprise that Martell wasn’t named the starter. Martell only completed 5 of his 16 pass attempts for just 28 yards. He did rush for 69 yards, which was a nice day on the ground, but the lasting memory was of the less-than-stellar passing day.

Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day doesn’t just look at one performance when making a decision, however. But even when looking at the one performance, he looks at all of the factors involved.

“A lot goes into every play,” Day said following the spring. “You have to look at it objectively. If there is an incomplete pass, either the receiver was covered, or it was a poor throw, or it was a drop, usually. We’ve gone through all of the incompletions and charted all of them to get an idea on that.”

Being a spring game, the roster is split and twisted, which can lead to inexperienced players doing things they’re not accustomed to doing.

“Sometimes, especially in spring when some of the older guys aren’t practicing as much, there are some younger guys in there running routes or the protection can break down,” Day said. “That can be a little frustrating. We try and consider all of that.”

The Buckeye coaches factor those things into every snap of every practice. For Day, he looks at what the quarterback did each time someone else broke down. He takes their reactions into consideration. When the whistle starts blowing for real, things never go as planned, so the quarterback who handles the unforeseen the best is usually the guy who wins the job.

Tate Martell may not yet be on Dwayne Haskins’ level, but he continues to get better.

“Tate did improve as a passer from last fall to the first practice of spring and to the end of the spring,” Day said. “He did show a lot of improvement with his technique and getting his front foot down and throwing the ball.”

Martell is still competing to be the starter at Ohio State, and in the process of competing he is planning to show his coaches and teammates that they can trust him and he can produce like a Buckeye quarterback should.

And while that may not lead to a starting job in the very near future, the more he shows his coaches, the more likely they will be to make him a part of their plans regardless of the depth chart.

9 Responses

  1. “marginal passing sub-optimized our offensive effectiveness.”

    I’ll never understand this narrative.

  2. Tate will play this year as we are certain to have some blowouts. I also expect Tate to be used with DH on the field. We all need to remember that what Cardale Jones and JTB had was Tom Hermann. MT and DH have Day and Wilson are really good too. Finally, while he may NOT have the gun as DH, if he’s accurate to the intermediate and short routes, the D’s will be kept very honest, even more so than with JTB’s years.

  3. “He did rush for 69 yards, which was a nice day on the ground, but the lasting memory was of the less-than-stellar passing day.”
    The above description earned JTB a lot of accolades over 4 years.

    Tate Martell is the only QB this Spring who could run the trapping RB/QB option as well as last year’s starting QB did. With Haskins behind center, OSU will totally have to revamp and run a primarily pro-style drop back set, as they tried to do with Cardale Jones at the beginning of 2015. And we all know how that turned out.

    1. Well, they didn’t run a pro-style set against Michigan, and I think I remember he did ok. No one knows what they are going to run in the fall except Meyer and Wilson. And they might not even know fully yet.

  4. Don’t forget they were playing touch football and Tate was ruled down by several touches where he was past the defender and they were barely able to reach him for the touch – good question if they would have actually completed a tackle – live game situation and the bet is he gets an additional 40 to 50 yards rushing and another score!

    1. Having played QB two years of tackle football and two years of flag football in the service, I can attest that it is harder for the defense to play touch than it is to play tackle. The defender can’t leave his feet or be aggressive and ends up being flat footed and easier to dodge. I’m not knocking the kid’s running ability but lets face it, running alone ain’t going to do the trick.

  5. If Haskins plays well this year and comes back next year…I think Baldwin emerges and Tate ends up at H-Back.

  6. Martel will get better and he will make some plays for the Buckeyes before he is done BUT he will never be the bona fide downfield passing threat that we sorely need to keep the defenses honest and free up our running game. JT being number three in all time rushing attempts says it all. JT made a lot of plays and was a great leader but his marginal passing sub-optimized our offensive effectiveness.

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