Though he remains unlikely to unseat J.T. Barrett as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, Dwayne Haskins took the first snaps of his career Saturday on the Buckeyes’ final drive of their 38-7 win against Army.
The redshirt freshman did not disappoint.
Haskins completed all four of his passes for 46 yards, zipping the ball to four separate receivers on each throw and driving the Buckeyes to Army’s 10-yard line.
“I thought he performed well when he was in there,” coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “He was 4-for-4. I wanted to throw him more, but you just didn’t want to do something silly.”
His big-armed, pocket passing style starkly contrasted with Barrett’s dual-threat approach. In Haskins’ only drive, he completed passes of 14 and 15 yards. In the rest of the game, Barrett completed six passes for at least 14 yards.
Meyer praised Haskins’ quick release after the game and said Haskins might have had a chance to score on his only drive, but did not want to score another touchdown and run the score up.
After Ohio State’s first loss of the season, a decisive 31-16 defeat to Oklahoma, Meyer said he hoped to find Haskins some reps in regular-season games with the goal being to prepare the quarterback to be “game-ready.” Meyer did not believe Haskins earned that designation last week and believes he still has to work to earn the tag.
In Meyer’s mind, a large experience gap exists between practice reps and game reps, and another lies in whether the game reps occur under pressure. At the end of the game against Army, Haskins did not have much to lose.
“I’ve done that before where you put a guy in in the second quarter of a game,” Meyer said. “We’re not at that point yet. But you’d like to do that.”
Whether Haskins earns earlier playing time to test his readiness or not, he is likely to remain backup quarterback. Instead of a battle to become the starter, he might re-enter a competition with redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow, who is about ready to return to action.
Burrow broke a bone in his throwing hand near the end of fall camp. Before the past two games, he threw passes in pregame warmups, but he has yet to be listed on a depth chart due to the injury.
“We’ve got to make some decisions who is the first one in there,” Meyer said. “Last year was very important to get Joe in the game and he did pretty well when he was in there as well. So, that is so important for backup quarterback spot.”
In the spring and fall, Burrow and Haskins entrenched themselves in a battle to back up Barrett. In the spring game, Burrow went 14-for-22 for 262 yards with three touchdowns, while Haskins completed 26-of-37 passes and added three touchdowns.
The primary backup last season, Burrow played in five games and completed 22-of-28 passes for 226 yards and threw two touchdown passes. A dual threat, similar to Barrett, Burrow rushed 12 times for 58 yards and a touchdown.