COLUMBUS – Dwayne Haskins delivered.
What he did in Ohio State’s 77-31 win over Oregon State in its season opener on Saturday excited believers and quieted doubters.
Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback threw for more yards (313) and more touchdowns (five) than any Buckeyes quarterback had ever thrown in his first start in scarlet and gray.
He completed 22 of 30 passes, including 10 of the first 11 he threw, and was intercepted just once.
Haskins and Ohio State’s receivers will see far better defenses than the Oregon State defense, which it shredded for 721 yards total offense.
But what the crowd at Ohio Stadium saw from the Buckeyes’ new quarterback and his receivers was just what it hoped for from the small sample of Haskins’ talents it saw in the Michigan game and in a few mop up appearances last season.
His arm is strong. His throws are accurate. His release is quick. And he stands in the pocket and doesn’t take off running often.
If he continues to play that way, if he continues to improve, Ohio State will be one of the winners in the college football quarterbacks lottery.
The only glaring flaw was a third-quarter interception that eventually led to an Oregon State field goal in the third quarter.
“I thought Dwayne started well and played well. He had the one play that obviously you’d like to have back But overall it was a good start for him,” acting head coach Ryan Day said. “He knows I’m going to be all over him for that third down throw in the red zone. But I thought it was a good start for him.”
As an eight-year-old visiting Ohio State, Haskins reportedly said in a family video that Ohio State was where he was going to go to college.
Saturday, he said, “That was a dream as a little kid and being able to go out on the field today and do it was just remarkable.
“It’s been an 11-year dream. I was thinking about that yesterday, just about how far I came to be here and to have the opportunity and how it is a blessing. It was just take a breath that it’s finally here, but (I have to) keep getting better,” he said.
Considering what J.T. Barrett accomplished in four years as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, he was criticized too much by some of Ohio State’s fan base.
But it is apparent Ohio State’s new quarterback has a different skill set and has some different tools in his quarterback’s tool box than the player he replaced.
Ohio State’s top six receivers, all of whom arrived at Ohio State as four-star recruits, have not lived up to their recruiting rankings so far in their careers.
Saturday, for whatever reasons, those receivers were getting open more, the passes were on time and where they needed to be and the timing and connection between the quarterback and the receivers seemed to be improved.
Without throwing shade at Barrett, Terry McLaurin (4 catches, 121 yards, two touchdowns) pointed to one of the new things Haskins brings to the offense.
“Just because of his quick release, every time I’m turning the ball is there. He’s really good on his release,” McLaurin said.
One other visible difference between Haskins and Barrett is that Haskins ran the ball only twice on Saturday.
“Dwayne can run. There are going to be times when he needs to run. He’s obviously a gifted passer,” said Day, who is also OSU’s quarterbacks coach.
Haskins sounded a little less enthusiastic about running the ball. “I don’t feel like I need to run the ball. I’ve got running backs like Mike (Weber) and J.K. (Dobbins) who can handle it. If I need to run like I did today, it’s just to extend plays.”
– FULLER OUT: Starting safety Jordan Fuller missed Saturday’s game with what an Ohio State spokesman called a hamstring injury.
– FIRST FOR BOSA: Nick Bosa’s recovery of a fumble for a touchdown was his first career touchdown. Joey Bosa also had one career TD at Ohio State.
Bosa’s reaction to his touchdown was classic Bosa. “It’s cool. I like getting sacks better. But touchdowns are cool, too.”
– SEVENTY-FIVE AND COUNTING: Former Ohio State sports information director Marv Homan was at Saturday’s game. He saw his first OSU football opening game 75 seasons ago in 1944.
– NEW STARTERS: Ten Ohio State players got their first career starts: Thayer Munford, Malcolm Pridgeon, Luke Farrell, Robert Landers, Jonathon Cooper, Baron Browning, Pete Werner, Isaiah Pryor, Jahsen Wint and Haskins.