All Aboard the D-train
This week’s This and That: get on board the train, looking for greener pastures, recommended reading, a personal goodbye.
Urban Meyer has finally confirmed Dwayne Haskins will begin the season as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback. According to a Canton Repository story by Joe Scalzo, Meyer said, “This is really the first time I’ve talked about it since the spring game, but as of now it looks like Dwayne Haskins will get the first opportunity to be the starter. Dwayne is a young guy that came in against our biggest rivals and did a heck of a job. You go back and watch that again, he came in on that first drive and took us down the field and scored on that first drive on that defense.” So, regardless of who you supported, in the three-way quarterback derby, during Ohio State's spring practice, it's time for all good Buckeye fans to climb on the D-train. Fretting over and discussing the transfer of Joe Burrow is pointless; he's gone and isn't coming back. Tate Martell is dynamic with the football in his hands, but when it leaves his hand in the form of a pass, that's where the adventure begins. It's obvious he isn't quite ready to be the starter. That leaves us with Dwayne Haskins; the cannon-armed savior of last year's Michigan game.
Haskins will give the Buckeye offense the kind of throwing accuracy it so sorely needs. “So, he’s got a great release, he’s got good size and he’s a mobile enough quarterback”, Meyer said. No longer will opposing defenses be able to shove nine players in the box and dare the Buckeyes to throw, like USC did in the Cotton Bowl. “It’s going to change how we attack defenses”, that comment from Meyer is music to my ears. Once he is able to make defenses respect his arm and back off the line of scrimmage, the run game will really open up. Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins should be able to gain yardage in chunks. I'm quite sure Offensive Coordinator Ryan Day is getting the go ahead from Meyer to tweak and add to the passing game to take advantage of their young quarterback's abilities and stretch the field. One thing I really like about Haskins is how he puts the ball in an area where the receiver can do something with it after the catch. This is something which is a very underrated skill for a quarterback. Take a look at the video from the Michigan game and you'll see two occasions where he hits K.J. Hill, on shallow crossing patterns, in a way which allows Hill to turn up field for sizeable gains. Haskins isn't the runner Barrett was, but he's certainly mobile; he can avoid the rush and complete passes while moving. Lastly, I love his confidence and demeanor. When he entered the Michigan game, he didn't just think he'd play well, he KNEW he'd play well. I like players who are confident without being brash. I'm not hesitating to get on the D-train because this kid could be something special. If you're in need of convincing, take another look at him daggering that team with the ugly helmets.
One concern I have with the departure of Burrow is it leaves the Buckeyes with just three scholarship quarterbacks and one of those is a true freshman coming off of a knee injury. But, after remembering Alabama was rescued by a true freshman in the National Championship game, I've calmed and changed my thinking. I have no doubt, if Matthew Baldwin is forced into action, he'll play well. That's how much I believe in Meyer and Day's ability to prepare a quarterback. I like Baldwin a lot. The Buckeyes pursued him after Emory Jones flipped to Florida during the early signing period. Jones didn't seem thrilled with the prospect of entering a quarterback room in Columbus, which was filled with young and talented players. Baldwin, on the other hand, welcomes the challenge. He enrolled early, but his participation in spring practice was limited while he rehabbed his injured knee. I don't see him redshirting this season. Most likely he'll see time in mop-up duty. But, I'm a firm believer he'll be ready to go, if injuries occur and he gets thrown to the wolves.
One last quarterback note. Reports out of New Orleans say J.T. Barrett had an excellent showing at the Saints’ rookie minicamp and the coaches are impressed with him. I’ve always felt Barrett will be on an NFL roster this fall. But, this was just one step for him. He still has to go through the Saints’ training camp in July.
Looking For A Fresh Start
Defensive back Wayne Davis became the latest Buckeye to announce his intention to transfer. The redshirt sophomore from Norfolk, Virginia played in just two games for a total of ten plays last season. He did not appear to be a part of the conversation of who will start at safety alongside Jordan Fuller. No word yet on where he will be playing in 2018. His departure puts the Buckeyes at the NCAA limit of 85 scholarship players.
One former Buckeye, who has recently transferred, has found a landing spot. Offensive lineman Matthew Burrell is now a part of the Sam Houston State Bearkats in Huntsville, Texas. Because they are a FCS program, Burrell is eligible to play immediately. The Bearkats have made the FCS playoffs eleven times and have made the semifinals in three of the last four years.
A report from seccountry.com’s Sam Spiegleman has Joe Burrow “leaning toward Cincinnati.” Spiegleman bases his information on sources close to the LSU program, a school Burrow visited recently. There are, also, reports of Burrow visiting North Carolina this week. Former Buckeye running back Antonio Williams transferred to the Tar Heels recently.
A Feel Good Read
Bill Rabinowitz, of the Columbus Dispatch, recently chronicled the story of Cin'Quan Haney (clicking on his name will take you to the article), a member of the OSU football program for the last three seasons. You probably don't recognize the name; he was a scout team defensive back, who saw the field for just one play during his time as a Buckeye. While he was hardly an All-American on the field, it is off the field where Haney excels. He just graduated with a degree in physics and already has a job with a firm in Virginia. He, also, learned American Sign Language to better communicate with deaf students. Trust me, he's an impressive young man. Take the time to read the article, you'll really enjoy learning his story.
Goodbye To A High School Legend
Dave Bruney, the head coach at my (and his) high school alma mater of Martins Ferry, has announced his retirement. “Coach Dave” spent 39 years with the Purple Riders and finished with a 275-134 record. He led the program to the playoffs 14 times, won six Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championships and had four undefeated seasons. I’m proud to say I was a starter on his first undefeated team in 1979. The 2004 Riders made it to the state semifinals before losing to Cardinal Mooney of Youngstown. Martins Ferry has had one losing season in the last 27 years. His final victory came against arch-rival Bellaire and was the school’s 700th all-time. I’m still trying to wrap my head around him not being on the sidelines this fall. I wish Coach Dave all the best in his retirement.
I’ve tried to maintain a weekly pace with this blog, but will probably go to more of a ten days to two weeks schedule until we get near the beginning of fall camp. Enjoy the nice weather!