Before the Zach Smith scandal broke, the Buckeyes looked like clear favorites to make it to the College Football Playoff. Now, however, it’s all secondary as we wait to see if Ohio State will do the right thing.
Prior to Brett McMurphy’s blockbuster reporting of Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith’s marital issues, the Buckeyes looked like a safe bet to win the Big Ten East division, advance to Indy and probably then the College Football Playoff. Now all of that talk is secondary to the ongoing investigation about what head coach Urban Meyer knew, when he knew it and what, if anything, he did about the situation. Until Ohio State’s investigation is completed, Meyer remains suspended and the future of the football program is now cloudy for the second time this decade. Will Meyer coach this team this season, or even ever again?
That uncertainty isn’t apparent looking at the football team’s prospects, at least prior to the scandal breaking just prior to Big Ten media days. Ohio State looks loaded, especially on offense. Yes, there are a few on-the-field questions, but knowing Urban Meyer and his recruiting, you have to assume there are football solutions waiting in the wings.
Start at quarterback. Replacing a four-year starter in J.T. Barrett won’t be easy, but since it’s Ohio State, there’s no end of options. Even considering that Joe Burrow transferred to LSU this summer. The heir apparent is sophomore Dwayne Haskins (6’3” 214 lbs.), the hero of last year’s Michigan game. Trailing 20-14 when Barrett left the game with an injury, Haskins came in to complete six of seven passes for 94 yards and rushed three times for 24 yards to lead the Buckeyes to a 31-20 victory. For the season, Haskins completed 70% of his passes for 565 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, and averaged 3.6 yards per carry on 24 carries. A pro-style quarterback, he proved he could make plays with his legs last season. Redshirt freshman Tate Martell (5’11” 205 lbs.), a former Gatorade national player of the year awardee in high school will back him up.