The Martell Conundrum
Updated: Aug 10, 2018
I’m so happy to get back to talking about football. A lot has gone on since McMurphy’s Folly hit us August 1st. Let’s get to it.
Coming out of spring practice it was widely believed Dwayne Haskins had a stranglehold on the starting quarterback job. In mid-June, Urban Meyer pretty said he’d enter fall practice at the top of the depth chart. So, it came as no surprise during Big Ten Media Day, when Meyer said the quarterback job is open. Quite frankly I want it open. I want Tate Martell and Haskins pushing each other each day, to be the starter. This battle won’t go on all month. Meyer (until it is announced otherwise, he’s still the head coach) will probably name a starter two weeks before the opener against Oregon State, so the team can begin implementing its game plan.
I don’t doubt Haskins will take the first snap against Oregon State. But, I’m excited to see what ways offensive coordinator Ryan Day comes up with to use the incredible athleticism of Tate Martell. The redshirt freshman is dynamic with the football in his hands. Ok, sure, he’s not the most accurate passer right now, but that athletic ability is going to allow the Buckeyes to use him in various packages. When he was at Florida, Meyer used Tim Tebow in a lot of short yardage and goal line situations early in his career.
It’s fun thinking of the ways they’ll use Martell and how much he’ll play. 8 plays? 10? 15 per game? It is a very interesting question, but here is something else to think about when considering how much he’ll see the field: what if he gets hurt? I know what you’re thinking, because it is probably the same thing I was thinking when that very valid point was raised, “Wait…what? Yeah, never thought of that.” If you still haven’t quite caught on to what I’m getting at, I’ll come right out and say it. If Martell gets hurt, that leaves the Buckeyes with a true freshman coming off of a knee injury (Matthew Baldwin) as the backup to Haskins, and Kory Curtis, a sophomore walk on, as the number three. So, what Martell’s playing time could boil down to is how confident are the coaches in Matthew Baldwin. Martell’s role will probably expand as the season progresses and Baldwin becomes more comfortable with the offense. According to Parris Campbell, Baldwin can “sling it” and carries himself like a leader. I’m sure a lot of teams across the country would love to be “stuck” with a conundrum like this.
Meyer loves Martell’s competitive spirit and saw the same quality in Tim Tebow and Alex Smith. “I see that in Tate and so does our strength coach. I see a guy that refuses to lose and that is very appealing to a coaching staff”, said Meyer. He, also, said Haskins is like that as well, but does things a bit differently. The staff already has some ideas as to how to use Martell. That’s good because the more things they have for him, the more teams have to take time to prepare for his style, along with that of Haskins. They aren’t similar and I’m sure it won’t be easy for opposing teams to get ready for each.
Finally A Look
Ohio State decided to open part of practice to the media on Tuesday, giving us the first glimpse of the 2018 Buckeyes in action.
Middle linebacker Tuf Borland, who injured his Achilles in the spring and was not expected to return until “early in the season” according to Urban Meyer, was seen some taking reps with the first team defense. He participated in a “pursuit”-type of drill, where, according to one reporter, the coaches don’t allow players to go anything less than all out. Regardless if he’s ready to fully participate in practice at this time or not, he seems to be far ahead of schedule. Also, offensive lineman Branden Bowen, a starter for the first part of 2017 until breaking his leg, was a full participant. That makes the crowded offensive guard situation even more so.
Michael Jordan did, indeed, take some snaps at center as Meyer mentioned he might. Brady Taylor is still the starter, for now. But, with the glut of talent they have at guard, I think they’re going to take a serious look at Jordan at center in an attempt to get their five best linemen on the field.
Linebackers Dallas Gant and Teradja Mitchell became the second and third members of the 2018 recruiting class to lose their black stripes. Defensive tackle Tommy Togiai had his removed during spring practice. Having the black stripe removed from your helmet means a player is “officially” a Buckeye.
Hopefully the school decides to continue to allow the media to observe parts of practice on a regular basis. There is still a season to be played and all of us want to know what’s happening on the field.
A couple of former Buckeyes have decided to retire after relatively short NFL careers. Josh Perry, who played for the Buckeyes from 2012-15 and was a starting linebacker on the 2014 national championship team, decided to retire after suffering his sixth concussion recently. He spent 2016 with the San Diego Chargers where he played in 15 games, starting one, and was with the Colts last season. He appeared in just two games with Indianapolis before signing with Seattle in the spring. Perry said he plans on remaining in the Columbus area and will pursue his real estate license.
At one time, Jack Mewhort looked to be one of the rising young linemen in the NFL for the Colts. After being drafted in the second round in 2014, he went on to start 30 games over his first two seasons. But, knee injuries would limit him to just ten games in 2016 and only 5 last year. The Toledo St.John’s grad was an All-American for the Buckeyes in 2013.
While some careers end way too soon, others seem to go on forever. Kicker Mike Nugent has been signed by the Oakland Raiders and is being given a chance to compete for the starting kicker job. Entering his 14th NFL season the Raiders are the Centerville native’s seventh NFL team. Nugent played for the Buckeyes from 2001-04 and was a member of the 2002 national champions. He was twice a consensus All-American and the winner of the 2004 Lou Groza Award. I saw him play in the North-South All-Star game at Crew Stadium in Columbus and can say, without a doubt, he’s the best high school kicker I’ve ever seen.
Sam Hubbard may be very popular around the Great State of Ohio thanks to his time with the Buckeyes, but in Cincinnati, the Moeller High School alum is an icon. His family recently placed an order for 164 personalized “Hubbard” jerseys from the Bengals team store. When he was drafted by the team in April, the store employees figured they’d be getting quite a few orders. They had no idea they’d be buried like this. For the record, one of my top ten all-time favorite Buckeyes is wearing number 94 for the Bengals.
Two former Buckeyes played in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton last week. Defensive back Doran Grant had an interception for the Chicago Bears. DeVier Posey had 1 reception for 6 yards for the Baltimore Ravens. Posey spent last season with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. In the Grey Cup game (the CFL championship), he caught a 100-yard touchdown pass; the longest in the 105-year history of the Grey Cup and was named the game’s MVP.
Updating The Mess
A Reddit thread said Brett McMurphy changed his stories on Facebook (where he released them) without alerting readers to the corrections. Before Meyer’s interview during Big ten Media Day, McMurphy wrote Zach Smith had been arrested in October of 2015. A few hours after Meyer denied knowing anything about it, McMurphy changed his story to Smith had been only investigated. He cites the police report he obtained the same day as the press conference as the reason for the change. Changing the story to be accurate is certainly fine, but let readers know it has been changed.
On Monday, Eleven Warriors spoke with Powell Chief of Police Gary Vest. He said Zach Smith was “never arrested, never handcuffed, never brought in and never charged in a court of law here in 2015.” Vest indicated they are again looking into the situation now that Zach Smith and his ex-wife, Courtney, have spoken publicly about the incidents. He, also, said the Delaware County prosecutor felt there was not enough evidence to bring charges at the time. On Wednesday, the Powell Police Department denied a request from the investigative team, for more information on the incidents in the fall of 2015. They cited the state’s confidentiality laws, which protect the identity of someone accused of a crime. Powell’s city attorney said, because Zach Smith was not charged with a crime, the details of what police found are not public record
Courtney Smith’s attorney, Julia Leveridge, released a statement Monday night saying Ohio State has never contacted her client, but she is willing to fully cooperate with the investigation. She reasserts Courtney Smith is a victim of domestic violence and “has made concerted efforts to press charges of domestic abuse against her ex-husband.”
I wonder if all of those holier-than-thou sorts in the media, who are calling for Urban Meyer’s head, remember when Nick Saban at Alabama accepted a transferring player, who had been dismissed from another program for, you guessed it, domestic violence. Nah, I doubt it. That’s an inconvenient truth for them.
BREAKING NEWS: Zach Smith and Courtney Smith's mothers speak out in support of Zach. You can read my blog on this by clicking here.
I see where Murphy Brown is coming back to tv. I’m guessing it is going to be on ESPN in the afternoon, along with the rest of the obnoxious, loudmouthed, arrogant windbags. The good news is we’re just over three weeks from the opener for the Buckeyes.