Run Dwayne Run? ‘Whatever It Takes’

Dwayne Haskins Ohio State Football Buckeyes

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been credited with seven rushing attempts this season through three games, but really only one of them has been planned so far.

In the season opener against Oregon State, Haskins scrambled twice for a total of 24 yards. Against Rutgers, he was sacked once and then tackled behind the line of scrimmage on a broken hand-off attempt. Last week against TCU, he was sacked for the second time this season. He also had a 4-yard scramble on third-and-5.

His first true planned run, however, came early in the fourth quarter at the TCU 5-yard line. Haskins had been handing the ball to his running backs all game long, and the Horned Frogs defensive ends had been crashing down on the ball carriers in response. Seeing this earlier in the game, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson told acting head coach Ryan Day that the keeper would be there when they needed it.

Leading 33-28 in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes needed it.

So Haskins read the defensive end, saw him crashing down once again, and pulled the ball back and ran into the end zone nearly untouched to make it 40-28.

The quarterback run may not have played a part in the first three quarters, but Wilson and Day saved it for the exact right moment. Dwayne Haskins’ ability to throw the ball allows them to rely on his arm, but he is good enough as a runner that they can incorporate that into the game plan as well.

“I definitely feel like my legs are a part of my game,” Haskins said on Wednesday. “It might not be the biggest part, but it definitely is there. Plays where I have to read a defensive lineman or a linebacker and I have to pull it, if it’s called I’m gonna read it. That’s part of the game plan.”

In Urban Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State, he has generally relied on quarterbacks whose legs are the biggest parts of their respective games, which is why moving away from it right now has Meyer at least a bit concerned.

“Well, that is lost yardage,” Meyer said of the diminished quarterback run plans for Haskins. “Obviously statistically and production-wise he’s been great, but the lost yardage is the Q run, Q draw, and Q read plays. So you have to pick up that yardage somewhere else.

“And I think he’s at 340 some a game and throwing very accurately. The receivers are playing fairly well and he’s got two good backs behind him. It’s a little different style of offense. A lot of the same concepts, but I always call that the lost yardage that you have to pick up elsewhere, and he has up to this point.”

Through three games this season, Haskins is averaging 304.3 yards of total offense per game. That is one yard less than J.T. Barrett averaged last season while rushing for 53 yards per game over the Buckeyes’ first three games.

Not only has Ohio State more than picked up the lost yardage that Meyer is concerned about, Haskins has essentially done it all by himself.

While Haskins is likely never to carry it 15-20 times in a game like Barrett did 22 times in his career, he is still clearly ready and willing.

In order to keep defenses from continuing to crash down full speed on the running backs, Haskins will need to keep it at times. He won’t need to do it a lot because simply the threat of it happening can accomplish what the Buckeyes need.

“I think when a defense sees him keep the ball, they have to account for him,” Ryan Day said. “And if they don’t account for him, then we pull it. And that’s kind of what happened in that game. The end was crashing down hard, Kevin Wilson saw it on film and said, ‘Now it’s time to pull the ball.’ We got down there a little later on and that end did crash, he pulled the ball and he scored.

“Any time that happens and a defensive coordinator sees that, they have to account for that. Once they account for that, job done. We’re trying to be creative in how we do that, but as long as you’re a threat then I think a defense has to account for him.”

As for the number of carries per game that “feels good” to Haskins, he doesn’t seem to care.

“Winning the game feels good,” he said. “If I have to run the ball a lot in one game, that’s what it has to be. The main goal is to have that ‘W’ in the box score at the end.”

5 Responses

  1. Good heavens, Meyer just can’t help himself, can he? How in the WORLD is, say, a 15 yard completion considered “lost yardage” when it replaces a 3 yard QB run? It’s idiotic to write and it’s idiotic to say. The Meyer says it’s a “little different” style of offense? Um, yeah…its an offense that at least stands a chance against good teams. You won’t see it vs the Green Wave this weekend folks, but just wait until Penn State or similar foes appear- that’s when Meyer will insist to his coordinators (who are doing just fine, thank you) that a 3 yard QB run is somehow preferable to a 15 yard pass completion. Man, I hope the QB run noise gets buried by better choices. ( I can hope, can’t I?) There is NO reason for this QB to be involved in planned runs.

  2. IDK – guys have been clamoring for a pro-style QB for at least the last 5 years and now that the Bucks have one – they want more running – Jeez. A pro style offense can win a national championship – the offense in 2014 under Car..Dale…Jones was more pro-style with RPO’s mixed in but not heavy zone read. So, folks need to settle down and let a 72% passer do his thing. If not for the drops, I believe this would have been a 20 point win (please don’t chase points).

  3. Haskins is not mobile like Barrett. He should only run 4 -5 times per game so that defense knows that our offense can have the quarterback run the ball if we want to. If Haskins never runs the ball, the defense has one less thing they have to plan for.

  4. What we finally have at OSU is a QB that can consistently throw the short and intermediate routes. His stats prove that. His legs aren’t really needed, but when used at the correct time can throw O’s off and continue drives. Where Haskins needs to improve is on the deep throw, he hit one to begin the game with Mack, then missed a streaking player. OSU’s O turned when Campbell hit a slip screen and took it to the house. In other words, TCU forced OSU to throw it deep or gash us with a slant and after Campbell OUTRAN TCU, the O got on track as TCU had to respect the deep ball. Appreciate Urban’s concern, but why in some ways risk injury when we have JTD and MW and other blue chippers in the wings who hit 5-15 spurts regularly against a D like TCU.

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