Ohio State

Short yardage offense remains one of Buckeyes few weaknesses

Dwayne Haskins

No FBS quarterback has thrown more touchdown passes (25) than Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins so far this season. Only Washington State’s Gardner Minshew II (2,422) and Hawai’i signal caller Cole McDonald (2,100) have more passing yards than the Buckeye redshirt sophomore (1,919). Haskins is ranked fifth in passer rating.

He has pretty much shown he can do anything the OSU coaching staff has asked of him, except for when they’ve asked him to gain one yard.
“Third-and-one is tough right now,” Urban Meyer said this week when asked if he’s more comfortable in that situation or in a third and seven.

Arguing that the team is converting about 70 percent, rather than his goal of 80 percent in short yardage situations, Meyer called it one of the team’s weaknesses.

There have been 17 occasions this year in which Ohio State has had the ball on third down with one yard to gain, or they have gone for it on fourth-and-one. Haskins was tasked with gaining that final yard just once, and he came up short.

That fourth down play at Penn State was illustrative of Meyer’s theory on short yardage situations. He prefers not to use a quarterback sneak, because he doesn’t want to ask his QBs to do something he rarely does and almost never practice: namely, take the snap under center.
Haskins received the ball in the team’s usual shotgun formation, and quickly, there was nowhere for him to go.

With a clear preference, then, to hand the ball to the running backs instead, opponents have started to scheme for this.

“The whole idea being is that when you take the quarterback position, and it’s a hand-off [to another] player, they can plus you by two,” Meyer said. “And that’s what’s happening right now.”

In other words, defenses are bringing more players to the line of scrimmage.

Meyer admitted this has caused the coaches to consider using more mobile signal caller Tate Martell in spots.

There is yet another option, though, and it is the one they utilized in their most recent 49-26 victory over Indiana. The team may throw it even more. After all, Haskins has proven adept at that.

For his part, Haskins replied that he is ready to do whatever.

“Just give me a play that works, and I’ll make it work for you,” he said.

(You can follow Lori Schmidt on Twitter @LoriSchmidt)

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