After a dominant win over Oregon State in the season opener, Ohio State did not seem to slow down, defeating Rutgers 52-3 in the first Big Ten game of the season. Here are three takeaways that the Buckeyes have heading into their Week 3 matchup against TCU.
Quarterback room remains extremely accurate
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins did not seem to have much room to improve after his first collegiate start against the Beavers, throwing 313 passing yards and five touchdowns in the season opener. However, in a consistently rainy environment that was not well suited for passing, the quarterback thrived.
Haskins completed 20 of 23 pass attempts for 233 yards and four touchdowns, including two touchdown passes to redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, a 16-yard pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Parris Campbell and a 9-yard score to redshirt sophomore tight end Luke Farrell.
Following in the footsteps of former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who thrived in high-accuracy, short-yardage pass plays, Haskins has utilized accuracy in many of the same ways, running what offensive coordinator Ryan Day refers to as “the Ohio State offense”.
Through two games, Haskins, averaging 13 yards per completion, comparable to the 12.72 yards per completion Barrett had last season, is completing 79.2 percent of pass attempts. To compare, Barrett got nowhere close to the 70 percent mark, completing a career high 64.7 percent of pass attempts last season.
When Haskins left the game, that trend of accurate quarterbacks did not stop. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Martell completed each of his 10 pass attempts for 121 yards, throwing his first collegiate touchdown, a 51-yard pass to redshirt senior receiver Terry McLaurin.
For an Ohio State offense trying to live and die by the word “tempo,” high accuracy is vital in keeping any offense moving. Haskins and Martell have shown they are the right quarterbacks for the job, at least for the first two weeks of the season.
Running back rotation continues to stay consistent
Neither redshirt junior Mike Weber nor sophomore J.K. Dobbins led Ohio State in rushing against Rutgers. That was Martell, who rushed for 95 yards on eight carries, scoring his first collegiate rushing touchdown.
Prior to Martell entering the game, Dobbins and Weber continued to share the ball, splitting series in the first half of the win.
After Weber found the majority of the success against Oregon State, Dobbins took control against Rutgers, rushing for 73 yards on 12 carries, scoring his first touchdown of the year on a 2-yard rush in the second quarter. Dobbins was also utilized in the passing game, Targeted twice for 18 yards.
Weber, on the other hand, could not find consistent success. Despite finding big holes in the first quarter, recording 31 rushing yards on his first four carries, Weber was not looked to carry the ball for much of the rest of the game, touching the ball four more times in the remainder of the game, adding no more yards to his total.
Overall, the running game was, again, successful for the Ohio State offense. It likely does not matter which back succeeds as long as one of them does. This rotation has seemed to work well in the first two games of the season.
Fuller returns to the back part of Ohio State’s defense
It was obvious to see the impact the Ohio State defensive line made in Saturday’s win over Rutgers. With junior Nick Bosa and sophomore Chase Young on either side, the unit dominated the Rutgers offense, recording six tackles for loss and three sacks, as well as three quarterback hits.
Before the game even started, the main storyline was not on the secondary. It was on Jordan Fuller.
The junior safety missed the season opener against Oregon State because of a hamstring injury and Ohio State struggled in the second level of the defense, allowing two touchdown runs of over 75 yards and a consistency in the short-yardage passing game when the defensive line could not get to the quarterback.
With Fuller returning against Rutgers, his presence was felt in the secondary.
When the defensive line allowed the quarterback to throw, Fuller showed what he could do, recording three tackles, including two solo tackles. He also made an acrobatic broken up pass, launching himself in front of the defender to take away any opportunity of a first down.
As a whole, the Ohio State pass defense did not have any trouble stopping the Rutgers pass game, as both freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski and redshirt senior Giovanni Rescigno combined to complete 11 of 30 pass attempts for 65 yards, throwing two interceptions, one to redshirt junior cornerback Kendall Sheffield and another to redshirt freshman Shaun Wade, both the first of their college career.
The Ohio State defensive line will continue to set the tone for the Ohio State secondary, but the secondary, with the return of Fuller, looked much better than it did in the season opener.