For the second day in a row, acting head coach Ryan Day avoided a definitive answer when it comes to Ohio State’s plans for Tate Martell, the backup quarterback who was sharp in relief of starter Dwayne Haskins as the Buckeyes blew out Rutgers last weekend.
“The plan has always been to play Tate,” Day said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “He brings a different skill package to the table. You could see that last week, and he’s getting better.”
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The coach noted both quarterbacks are gaining much-needed experience every week since neither has played much (or at all in the case of Martell) at the college level prior to this season, and a trip to Texas to take on TCU on Saturday night represents a new challenge.
“Now they’ll both have to take the next step because we’re going on the road, big environment, so we’ll try to get them as many snaps as we can,” Day concluded.
A day earlier speaking to reporters in Columbus, Day had a similar response.
“Like we said before, we plan to play Tate,” Day said Monday. “How much kind of depends on the game moving forward, but it was great to see him go out there and have some success and see him running around and have some energy.”
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Martell was named co-freshman of the week in the Big Ten after completing 10 of 10 passes with a touchdown and also running for a score against Rutgers last weekend.
Haskins, a sophomore who backed up J.T. Barrett last year while Martell took a redshirt, has been sharp in both games and was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after after completing 22 of 30 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns in a season-opening win over Oregon State on Sept. 1.
That was not all Day discussed on the teleconference:
- The coach said the Buckeyes will have to earn everything they get against TCU's defense.
- "Their scheme is obviously excellent," Day said of the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs. "Coach (Gary) Patterson puts them in position to be successful, and they don't hurt themselves. Everything we get we're going to have to earn."
- Patterson's signature is a 4-2-5 defense developed over the years to combat spread offenses. "They have a hybrid linebacker who has the ability to play coverage but also get in the box and get his nose dirty, so the matchups are difficult because Coach Patterson recruits to that defense and he's got a lot of guys who fit that mold. It's hard to find matchup problems when they have guys who can do multiple things."
- Day said Haskins did a good job preparing for the different blitzes Rutgers would bring last week and communicating with the offensive line to make sure everyone was on the same page as far as protections. "When you don't do that that's when you can get out of rhythm. That's a huge part of being a quarterback. Again this is going to be a step up for us."
- Haskins has made great progress in terms of understanding the offense and football. He has also really changed his body and has a bigger, more physical presence on the field now.
- Will Haskins run the ball more in the future? "I think when the opportunity presents itself, he will. He's going to have to, at some point down the line, beat you with his feet. Teams are going to start to defend the pass a little bit more and that will open up."
- Martell has improved significantly in the last couple of months. His running ability can open up more chances to throw the ball down the field.
- Texas native Jeffrey Okuda has come along nicely at cornerback for Ohio State. "He has a lot of talent. Very aggressive. He's not going to back down from anybody. His mindset and approach is just like the great corners we've had here and you can see that getting better every day." Day also called him, "One of the best kids you can be around in terms of day-to-day work ethic."
- Ditto Baron Browning, a linebacker from Texas. "He's really running from sideline to sideline and making plays."
- The coaching staff and players aren't worried about any playoff implications that might be attached to this game. "Ohio State is here to win every game…. it's not different this week."
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.