Receivers have helped elevate Haskins' game
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — When a quarterback’s off to the hot start passing that Dwayne Haskins Jr. was headed into Ohio State’s game Saturday night at Penn State, it’s obviously not a one-man show.
There’s protection involved, of course, but the receiving corps played a big part in helping Haskins become the Big Ten leader in passing efficiency, passing yards and completion percentage through the first four games.
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The veteran-laden group of K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Austin Mack had risen from being doubted a couple of years ago to being counted on.
Against Penn State, the protection wasn’t so good at first, the passing wasn’t so good, and neither was the catching. But in one momentous play, Binjimen Victor changed all that.
He used his long arms to pull down a high pass from Haskins on first down from the Penn State 47-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. Victor then weaved through the Penn State defense, with some help from blockers, and scored the touchdown that turned the game around in the Buckeyes’ 27-26 win.
“I just wanted to make a play for my team, and it felt great to do it,” Victor said. “To be honest, I really don’t remember that much about it. I just remembered scoring.”
It cut Penn State’s lead to 26-21 with 6:42 to play. And after the defense forced a punt, Haskins directed the team on a 96-yard drive that started with a big gain on a screen pass to running back J.K. Dobbins and ended on a wide screen to receiver K.J. Hill.
The latter play was for 24 yards up the right sideline, courtesy of a block from receiver Terry McLaurin and others.
“A lot of people may not believe it, but we expected it, especially having a veteran group, that’s a big reason we came back,” McLaurin said, speaking of himself and fellow seniors Campbell and Dixon. “Having a veteran group really doesn’t mean anything if you’re not executing at a high level.”
Through the first four games, and especially in the challenging win over TCU, they delivered big catches and key blocks.
“We truly feel like anybody can have a day, and that’s going from me to Parris to Johnnie to K.J., and Ben (Victor) even got in there, and Austin came back and made some plays (against TCU),” McLaurin said. “We really trust anybody who’s out there, and there’s no drop off.”