Protecting the QB has added meaning at Ohio State


Ohio State’s lack of depth at quarterback beyond starter Dwayne Haskins and back-up Tate Martell presents an interesting dilemma for the Buckeyes’ coaches, especially with a blowout of Oregon State the most likely outcome in Saturday’s season opener.

Typically in that situation, the No. 1 quarterback would spend most of the second half on the sideline and the No. 2 QB would play most of the second half. Then the No. 3 guy on the depth chart might get in for a series or two at the end of the game.

But there is no one behind Martell who is healthy enough or has been in Ohio State’s system long enough to be completely familiar with it. So if either Haskins or Martell gets hurt, it would be a big problem for OSU.

Freshman Matthew Baldwin had surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament last year as a high school senior and is not ready to play.

And Chris Chugunov, a graduate transfer from West Virginia, has only been at Ohio State a few weeks.

Chugunov started West Virginia’s last two games last season and threw for 536 yards and three touchdowns overall in 2017.

Ohio State’s back-up quarterback situation became a concern when Joe Burrow transferred to LSU after Haskins beat him out for the starting role. Burrow was named LSU’s starting quarterback earlier this week.

Acting OSU coach Ryan Day says both Haskins and Martell will play against Oregon State.

“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,” Day said on Monday. “Tate made some great progress, he really did. Especially in the last two weeks he made a really big push.

Asked if the fear of losing a quarterback would play into the decision of how much and when they play, he said, “Yeah, that’s a concern. That’s why we ended up bringing Chris in as well, to provide some depth for us there. So, like always we like to keep four or five quarterbacks on the roster.

“Building depth there is a little concern. When we lost Joe that was a hit and we all knew that going in,” he said.

“Dwayne’s done a great job. Along with a lot of other guys, his leadership had to step up and he’s done that. Throughout practice he’s gotten stronger, especially from the spring,” Day said about Haskins.

“He’s very talented. He’s worked hard in the off-season to change his body. Dwayne has a lot of talent, he’s very talented throwing the football. He’s worked on his athleticism, strength, power.

“You saw 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. Teams have film on you and they start to see some of your tendencies.”


—-SCHEDULE GETS TOUGHER: Ohio State has 11 games this season against Power 5 conference teams.

Northwestern and Purdue are the only other teams nationally with 11 Power 5 opponents on their schedules.

—-WHAT ROLE FOR McCALL?: Running back DeMario McCall, who showed big-play capabilities in 2016 before a leg injury limited him last year, could be moving to wide receiver, already a crowded position on Ohio State’s depth chart.

“He’s spent time now at receiver,” Day said. “Before he was kind of playing a little running back along the way in his career and then to get moved to wide receiver, now that he’s spent most of his time at wide receiver he’s improved a lot. How much he’s going to play, we’ll see throughout the week.”

—-EXPANDED ROSTERS: The Big Ten will increase the travel roster to 74 players from 70 this season, which is one of the first effects of the NCAA rule change that allows players to participate in up to four games and still be able to be redshirted.

—- KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: Illinois coach Lovie Smith has promoted his son, Miles Smith, to cornerbacks coach.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has his son Brian on his staff as the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator and Jim Harbaugh’s son Jay is Michigan’s running backs coach. Urban Meyer’s son-in-law, Cory Dennis, is a senior quality control coach at Ohio State.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

By Jim Naveau

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