In the tradition of head coach Urban Meyer, Ohio State, winning the first coin toss of the 2018 season, elected to defer, giving Oregon State the ball to begin the game.
Six plays and 38 yards later, Ohio State fans, saw what it had been waiting for all offseason. Redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins jogged onto the field, beginning his tenure as the starting quarterback at Ohio State.
With the expectations high after he completed six of seven pass attempts for 94 yards, leading Ohio State to a 31-20 win over Michigan last season, Haskins came out acting like he had something to prove.
In his first collegiate start, Haskins did prove something. He was the first quarterback in Ohio State history to record 300 yards passing in his first collegiate start, also breaking the school record with five passing touchdowns in his first career start.
“It’s been an 11-year dream,” Haskins said. “I was thinking about that yesterday. It’s like how far I came to be here and have this opportunity. It’s a blessing. Just take a deep breath and realize that it’s finally here.”
Heading into the season opener, acting head coach Ryan Day said the team, as a whole, came in with “a quiet confidence,” despite the attention that has been on the program in the last few weeks.
Going into the first game of the 2018 season, his first as the leader of the Ohio State offense, Haskins felt he had older guys help instil that “quiet confidence” in him.
“I feel like I was pretty mellow, pretty good, ready to start,” Haskins said. “Just having the older guys like Isaiah [Prince] and Terry [McLaurin] and Parris [Campbell] and Johnnie [Dixon] to be able to trust me and know that I would get the job done just helps me out a lot.”
Redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin was a major factor in creating Haskins’ confidence.
After handing the ball off twice to sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins, the third-year quarterback hit McLaurin in the middle for a 27-yard gain. Haskins connected with the fifth-year receiver on the final play of the drive, giving Ohio State its first touchdown of the season on a 2-yard slant pass to McLaurin.
Ending the day with four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, McLaurin said his role, as one of the captains on the team, was to make his quarterback feel as comfortable as possible, putting him in the best position to succeed.
“The first thing that came to my mind was poise,” McLaurin said. “When I saw him today and I came over to talk to him, you know, everybody has probably seen the video of him saying, when he was little, he was going to come play quarterback here. I told him it’s already written. God set this out for him and to go out there and be yourself. As my part as a leader, I wanted to instil some confidence in him and make the plays when they presented itself.”
With all of the hype regarding his arm, Haskins ran an efficient offense to start the game in his first collegiate start. He completed each of his first eight pass attempts for 98 yards, eclipsing 10 yards on all but three of those throws.
Much of this had to do with the tempo-based offense Day ran in his first game as acting head coach. He said, with Haskins at the helm, the offense played quickly and aggressively, and successfully stretched the field both vertically and horizontally.
Even with Haskins leading the Ohio State offense to 77 points and 721 yards of total offense, Day said there is still room for improvement.
“I think this is a first start for Dwayne. It was a good start. We’ll be building on it as we go,” Day said. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s one game, and we have a long way to go.”
Much like how he came out with something to prove, Haskins left believing that his offense proved something in the first game of the 2018 season.
“I feel like since our offense is so dynamic, not only me, but everyone else, can do a lot of things this year,” Haskins said. “I feel like the fans have something to look forward to.”