Ohio State-Rutgers notebook: Jordan settling in, Haskins going deep, expanding the offense and more

With another Ohio State football game week winding down, it’s time to clean out the reporter’s notebook.

Here are a few items that haven’t made it into a story yet:

1. Michael Jordan settling in at center 

While everyone wanted to see how Dwayne Haskins would perform in his first start at quarterback for Ohio State last week, the guy making sure he got the ball on every play was also a story.

Michael Jordan, a two-year starter at guard who moved to center in the offseason, graded out as a champion when the coaching staff evaluated the Oregon State film, but he made admitted feeling unsure of how ready he was prior to the game.

That sounds like bad news… until you hear why.

“Because it’s really challenging going against our D-line (in practice),” Jordan said Wednesday. “Our D-line is really good, especially going against (nose tackle Robert Landers).”

Apparently that old line about practice being tougher than games applies here.

“There’s definitely a lot more room for progress for me, but I didn’t think it was too bad for my first time,” Jordan said.

2. What’s in store for Haskins’ encore? 

While it’s hard to pick many nits from a starting debut in which Haskins threw for five touchdowns and over 300 yards, there was an interesting question posed to interim head coach Ryan Day on Monday.

What about the deep ball?

Give it time.

“We want to challenge people horizontally, so some of the bubble passes that we got out to Parris (Campbell), and then the speed sweep that you saw him going sideways, that was a way to stretch it horizontally, and then we want to stretch it vertically, and that's with the shots down the field, but if (the defense is) playing soft, then you can't force the action, you've got to keep us in rhythm.

“If you're playing fast, and you're playing in rhythm and the guys are taking the underneath stuff — we called some plays that in certain coverages would dictate throwing a post or seam or down the field but because the coverage was softer you saw us come underneath and get some completions.”

3. An old tool in the toolbox is new again. 

After making extensive use of 12 personnel (offensive sets with two receivers, one running back and two tight ends) during the national championship run of 2014, Ohio State predominantly has stuck with 11 personnel (three receivers, one back, one tight end) over the past three seasons.

Per ElevenWarriors, the Buckeyes brought in a second tight end more against Oregon State more often than they did any game last season.

Can we expect to see more of that?

“That’s one more thing for a defense to work on,” Day said this week. “So it presents a different way to attack them. So we’re looking at all those things and figuring out what grouping at that time gives us the best situation to be successful, and try to create more conflict to the defense, more to prepare for.”

Ohio State also showed off a 22-personnel package (two backs, two tight ends, one receiver) that yielded a touchdown against the Beavers.

4. Buckeyes lose some depth on the offensive line. 

Brandon Bowen’s comeback will have to wait.

The junior offensive lineman posted on Instagram he had surgery this week to correct an issue with the leg he first broke last season.

“I found out a couple weeks ago that my fibula hadn’t fully healed, and was not connected (known as a non-union), and would most likely never fully heal on its own,” he wrote. “I tried to play through this for a while, but the pain became too much as it was affecting how I was playing, from running, to simply taking my steps as an offensive lineman. As frustrating as this injury has been, I know it’s going to make me stronger after it’s all said and done. I know God has a plan for me. I’ll be back and better than ever.”

Bowen started the first six games last season before breaking that leg.

Demetrius Knox replaced him in the starting lineup and remains one of the team’s starting guards this season. He’s been joined inside by Malcolm Pridgeon, who replaced Jordan when Jordan moved to center.

5. Rutgers and the Big Ten meant to be? 

The Big Ten’s decision to bring Rutgers into the fold (along with Maryland) was met with much skepticism when it was announced almost six years ago, but it made plenty of sense to Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.

“From 2002 on, that was always my goal, you know, is we gotta get Rutgers in the Big Ten,” said Schiano, who was the head coach at Rutgers from 2001-11 before taking an NFL job. “I believed that's where it belonged, the kind of academic institution it is, land grant institution, so I'm really proud that Rutgers is in the Big Ten.”

While the Scarlet Knights have helped expand the Big Ten's television footprint, they are still trying to prove they belong on the football field.

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