Today’s Topic: Morning Constitutional: Will the Read Option Make a Return for the Buckeyes?
The 2018 Ohio State passing offense was unlike any other we saw before it.
Together, quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell threw for 5,100 yards and 51 touchdowns. And they completed 70.6% of their passes along the way.
Haskins was obviously the bulk of those numbers, throwing for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Ohio State’s decision to throw the ball as much as they did last season was mostly due to Haskins’ talent, but there were other factors as well.
One of those factors was the Buckeyes’ talent at wide receiver. Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon, and KJ Hill have a way of convincing a play caller that throwing the ball is rarely a bad idea.
Another factor in the increased passing was Ryan Day gaining more control of the Ohio State offense and Urban Meyer backing off a bit. Day’s first season featured one of the best passing offenses in OSU history, but his second season obliterated everything else that came before it.
Another key factor in the increase in passing was the fact that Dwayne Haskins wasn’t a very good runner. Day called the offense to Haskins’ strengths, which saw the read option dialed way back because it just wasn’t an effective strategy.
Haskins still had to keep the ball here and there in an attempt to slow down the defense, but Haskins’ own ability to run was never really a significant part of the offense.
I expect that to change in 2019 regardless of who wins the job, and not just because a quarterback who can run is more difficult to defend.
The 2018 season was the first under Urban Meyer without a quarterback who could run, and the entire rushing offense suffered for it. The Buckeyes averaged 4.2 yards per carry, which was good for No. 76 in the nation. And that was in an offense with two 1,000-yard rushers.
From 2017 to 2012, the Buckeyes averaged 5.8, 5.5, 5.6, 5.8, 6.8, and 5.2 yards per carry. Every single year, Ohio State was in the top 20 in the nation in average per carry, respectively. In 2013, their 6.8 mark led the nation.
Last year, however, they were a full yard under their worst mark under Meyer.
Having a quarterback who is more of a running threat will help improve those numbers, and both Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin are more capable runners than Dwayne Haskins.
I’m not saying the Buckeyes are headed back to the days of JT Barrett left and JT Barrett right, but having that option will make life easier on the running backs. If a defense can’t just key on a running back, then the option truly becomes an option.
And if defenses still just want to key on the running backs, the Buckeyes will once again have a quarterback who can make them pay for that kind of choice.
Ohio State has to fix the running game, and even though it got better later in the season, it was still far from what we have come to expect.
Having a quarterback who commands at least a split second of a defense’s thought process in the running game will be a huge help. There’s a reason, after all, Ohio State’s runs of 30 or more yards dropped from 18 in 2017 to just six last season.