Dwayne Haskins Jr.
All signs are pointing up for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Two games into his first season as the starter, he is tied for No. 1 in the nation in touchdown passes per game (4.5), No. 3 in completion percentage (.792) and No. 4 in passing efficiency (218.0). He is also No. 3 on the Heisman Trophy odds-to-win list behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and West Virginia’s Will Grier, according to Bovada.
But the truth is, Haskins’ first major test comes Saturday against TCU. Oregon State offered little resistance, and although Rutgers offered more defensive wrinkles, it didn’t have the players to make it work consistently.
TCU is known for a 4-2-5 defense schemed long ago by 18-year coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs, for example, like to blitz on first downs with the desire of stopping a running play in the backfield and forcing more predictable second-and-long plays from the offense. And they often mix coverages — zone on one side of the field, man on the other — from play to play.
“In that 4-2-5 they have a hybrid linebacker who has the ability to play coverage and also get in the box and get his nose dirty,” Ohio State acting head coach Ryan Day said. “Coach Patterson recruits to that defense, gets people who fit that mold, so it’s hard to get (favorable) matchups when they have guys who can do multiple things.”
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The challenge for Haskins will be to identify those better matchups in seconds, call out proper protection schemes to his line and make sure the running backs and receivers know what’s up.
“The focus even in a game like this is more on us, and giving him a good picture, and staying on rhythm,” Day said.
Day said Haskins has made nice progress in that regard, like against Rutgers.
“He did a nice job going into last week and preparing for the different blitz patterns, and communicating with the offensive line,” Day said. “When you don’t do that, that’s when you can get out of rhythm. So that’s a huge part of being a quarterback. Again, his preparation has been good, but this is going to be a step (up) for us.”