Today’s Topic: What’s Matthew Baldwin’s Biggest Obstacle In Return To Health?
One year ago at this time, Ohio State quarterback Matthew Baldwin was a true freshman who was about five months removed from an ACL tear. As such, he didn’t do much actual practicing.
Baldwin did as much as he could last spring, but his time was mostly spent doing things that injured players get to do.
“I was in the pit over there,” Baldwin said this spring, pointing in the direction of an outdoor sand pit. “I don’t know if you guys know what that is, but that’s where the injured guys work out over there. It’s generally not a very happy place.”
When the weather doesn’t permit, players are kept busy on stationary bikes, or working out in a corner, or simply walking around the practice field.
There is also position work. Even if it can’t be physical, it can still be mental.
“I worked out over there and it was all mental, trying to learn the stuff,” Baldwin said. “Mental reps are awesome and that’s how you really learn when you can’t play, but you can’t really know an offense until you’re in it playing. I learned that in the season when I was actually getting reps, the offense just started clicking.”
Baldwin knows the offense now and by about the halfway portion of last season, he could have played if the Buckeyes needed him to. Ryan Day even wanted to get him some snaps, but the opportunity never really arose.
Now, some six months beyond the point where Baldwin was cleared to play, he’s back “pretty much” to normal.
“I feel pretty much 100 percent now,” he said. “My body I’d say is 100 percent. The only thing I’d say now is confidence. Sometimes when I run, I might subconsciously when I’m trying to cut left, not plant as hard on my right leg. Not thinking about it, just that it happens. And that’s just something that takes time.”
In fact, regaining the confidence that with every step or cut or plant his knee will hold up has been the biggest obstacle in his return. But steps are being taken — literally — to build that confidence back to where it needs to be.
“One of Coach Day’s biggest selling points is when you throw, you get all your power from the ground,” Baldwin explained. “I’ve had to re-learn how to use my leg. Sometimes when I would just start working back into throwing, it would feel loose and just not as strong. So I’ve really had to work on that a lot with our trainers, [physical therapist Adam Stewart] has been so great with me. So we’ve gotten that going again.”