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Opinion: If Ohio State wants to win, Haskins has to start in 2018

Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) throws a pass in the fourth quarter of the game against Michigan on Nov. 25 in Ann Arbor. Ohio State won 31-20. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Last season, redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins secured the backup quarterback position when redshirt junior quarterback Joe Burrow was temporarily sidelined with a hand injury. In that backup role, Haskins threw for 565 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, completing 70.2 percent of his passes across eight games

While the numbers in his limited play aren’t gaudy by any means, Haskins made his best case for the 2018 starting job on a single drive against his team’s arch-rival. Once J.T. Barrett was forced to exit the game and Ohio State trailed 20-14, Haskins orchestrated a scoring drive that proved to be the game-winner in its 31-20 victory.

Given the collectiveness he showed in the most tense moment of his football career, Haskins made a strong case for why on Sept. 1, when the when the Ohio State football team opens its season against the Oregon State Beavers, he should start at quarterback.

“It’s crazy to go win the biggest rivalry in sports. I never thought it would be a reality,” Haskins said after the win. “I got my number called and it worked out for me. I’m thankful.”

Worked out for him it did, most importantly in the eyes of head coach Urban Meyer.

“I can’t say it’s comfort yet,” Meyer said after the game. “But to see him perform in that environment, and more importantly against that defense. That’s an elite defense.”

If there’s one thing about quarterbacks that matters to Meyer, it’s big-game experience. That was evident when he began the 2015 campaign with Cardale Jones — who led his team to a national championship the year prior —, to be the Week One starter over Barrett, — who became statistically the greatest quarterback in school history.

From a scheme standpoint, Meyer has almost always had a quarterback weith the ability to make plays on the ground. Haskins has the skills to extend a play at times, but in no way are his legs a threat for opposing defenses to worry about.

The lack of mobility, however, might not be a detriment to his chances of becoming the starter since Ohio State will be returning two previous 1,000-yard rushers. Last season, Barrett out-carried Mike Weber or J.K. Dobbins in seven games and out-carried both combined on two occasions.

With that duo behind him, the Buckeyes’ offense can become more simplified. The running backs run and the quarterback throws. And Haskins will throw well because what he lacks on the ground, he makes up for with incredible arm talent.

“It would mean the world to me [to be the starter],” Haskins said following Ohio State’s Cotton Bowl victory. “I’ve been working for this since I was a little kid and it’s right there so I’m going to go take it.”

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