In the first press conference ahead of the 2018 Ohio State football season, interim head coach Ryan Day announced what many thought to be true for months: Redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins will be the starting quarterback against Oregon State on Sept. 1.
Although the game will mark Haskins’ first collegiate start, Day had nothing but positives to say Monday when asked about his future starting quarterback.
“He’s very talented throwing the football — he’s worked on his athleticism, strength, power,” Day said. “At the end of the season last year, when he had to step into a role, he stepped right in there and he was ready to go. But now being a starter, that’s different. You have to prepare different, you have to be ready.”
Haskins comes into the season opener with eight games under his belt, but without a collegiate start to his name. Last season, Haskins threw for 565 yards and four touchdowns while completing more than 70 percent of his throws.
In last season’s win over Michigan, Haskins came in for injured quarterback J.T. Barrett with the Buckeyes down by six, finishing the drive with a touchdown. Ohio State scored 17 unanswered points with Haskins under center to defeat the Wolverines 31-20.
Day said the leadership he showed in the Michigan game continued into preseason camp.
“His leadership had to step up and he’s done that,” Day said. “Throughout practice he’s gotten stronger, especially from the spring.”
Haskins won the starting quarterback job over redshirt freshman Tate Martell, a dual-threat quarterback who came to Ohio State as a four-star recruit, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, boasting a perfect 45-0 record as a high school starter.
Day said, although Haskins has won the battle, Martell has proved himself enough to find his way onto the field.
“Tate made some great progress, he really did,” Day said. “Dwayne will start on Saturday, he’s the starter. But the plan is to play Tate. How, when, or anything like that, we don’t know yet. But he’s been getting better.”
Haskins offers a more pro-style approach to the Ohio State offense, relying more on his arm than his legs to make plays. He put this on display during the Michigan game with a 27-yard throw to then-sophomore wide receiver Austin Mack on a third-and-13 down six to the Wolverines.
Heading into the Oregon State game, Haskins will face comparisons to previous Buckeye quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. One holds the majority of the quarterback records for the program, while the other led Ohio State to a national championship in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
These comparisons will be made, but Day said none of them should mean anything to Haskins’ mindset.
“He doesn’t have to be J.T., he doesn’t have to be Braxton [Miller], he doesn’t have to be Cardale. All the quarterbacks, they have to be themselves,” Day said. “You have to find your own way. Now, there are a lot of things that leaders have in common and we share those and talk about those. But along the way you have to find your own way and that’s been the message.”
Haskins comes into the season without a start to his name, and with his only real crunch-time situation coming at the end of the Michigan game last season. But, he is joined by a pair of running backs in sophomore J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior Mike Weber, and a veteran receiving group that will look to take a lot of pressure away.
Approaching Saturday’s game, Haskins has the backing of his acting head coach moving forward.
“It’s going to be a week-to-week process as we get going,” Day said. “He has never started a game. So it will be a work in progress, but we’re very happy with where he’s at.”