It’s not every season Ohio State is forced to replace the Big Ten’s all-time leader in total touchdowns. But that has been the task head coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes have faced entering the 2018 season.
This year’s Spring Game looked to potentially shine a spotlight on the quarterback competition, with the opportunity for either Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow or Tate Martell to step up in front of what was a much smaller crowd than ones on Saturdays in the fall.
Each quarterback showed reasons why he should be named the starter. But more than anything, the Spring Game showed that one scrimmage won’t make or break Meyer’s decision.
Instead, unsurprisingly, Meyer said there is still no resolution to the starting quarterback dilemma, instead saying the coaches will meet early in the week to review the performances and analyze some of the data to see where they might be in terms of the looming decision.
From a numbers standpoint, Burrow had the strongest day, completing 15-of-22 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
“He has to be one of the most improved quarterbacks as far as delivery speed and arm,” Meyer said.
The narrative has been that if Burrow isn’t named the starter, he will transfer to another school and play right away. Burrow said it would be tough to leave Ohio State, but that he did not come here to sit on the bench.
Haskins’ numbers from the Spring Game don’t jump off the page. But, as was the case in his performance against Michigan, the redshirt sophomore had flashes of brilliance.
Haskins completed 9-of-19 passes with 120 yards and two touchdowns. In the second quarter, Haskins found sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Harris for a 25-yard touchdown on a bullet pass in the corner of the end zone, hitting the receiver right in the hands and just over the head of the cornerback.
“I feel like because I have a big arm I throw a lot of deep passes in the game. But I feel like I do a great job throwing all over the game, whether it’s intermediate or short,” Haskins said. “I just feel like I can throw all over the field.”
While Burrow and Haskins went back and forth between plays for most of the Spring Game on Team Gray, redshirt freshman Tate Martell was under center for Team Scarlet and showed off his elusiveness.
However, his mobility did not come with the arm the other two possessed.
Martell showed he could move with the ball in his hands, but he struggled to consistently complete passes, ending the scrimmage completing only 5-of-16 passes for 28 yards and an interception. He tallied 69 yards on 11 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run.
“I thought Tate Martell showed his athleticism,” Meyer said. “It’s caught my eye really since he’s been here, even more as of late, he’s got to work, obviously, on his throwing the ball.”
Between Haskins’ big arm, Burrow’s consistency and dual-threat capability and Martell’s agility and speed, Meyer has a difficult decision to make. But the decision on who will step into the spotlight in the fall is on his shoulders. With spring practice concluded, the three quarterbacks have done all they can do.