Into the weekend at Maryland, Ohio State brings an abundance of talent across its skill positions on offense. But beyond the first line of the starters slated for further production when the No. 10 Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1) take to Saturday’s Big Ten matchup against the Terrapins (5-5, 3-4), how have some others developed throughout the season?
Right after 97.1 The Fan’s weekly radio show Thursday spoke with head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day stepped in next. Before the team faces UMD at Maryland Stadium in College Park, Md., Day broke down OSU’s depth at quarterback and running back among other top takeaways included below.
- Maryland’s offense gets most of the talent the Terrapins possess at skill positions on that side of the ball. For the defense, Day detailed what he sees in his film study.
- “They do a good job,” Day said. “They have a multiple front. Again, a lot of teams are doing that. They go from the three-down front to a four-down front with some of those hybrids, overhang ‘backers to try to get a little more difficult in terms of identifying the run game and protection. They do a good job in the back end. The mix up zone, the play quarters and they play some man.”
- What exactly sparked the emergence of Tate Martell as a red-zone option? According to Day, the redshirt freshman quarterback’s practice performances paved the way fro more time on the field.
- “First thing is he’s been practicing really, really well the last few weeks,” Day said. “Feel like we’ve worked on a few things that he’s embraced. Obviously, he can do a great job with his legs and he’s a good decision maker that way. He’s got a lot of short-area quickness in that way, but he’s done a great job of throwing the ball. One of the games (Sept. 8’s 52-3 rout of Rutgers), I think he was 10-for-10 throwing. So improving in all areas, he’s a little bit of a change of pace. Because he’s been practicing so well, we think he deserves to get in there some.”
- Freshman quarterback Matthew Baldwin has been working back through recovery from a torn ACL last January, making strides in practices and as he takes his redshirt season. If not for the injury, Day noted that Baldwin would have been much more involved.
- “Matt Baldwin’s been a little bit of a different situation this year because when he finally did get healthy, we were into the season,” Day said. “Typically, the third-string guy doesn’t get a lot of reps. If it was a normal situation, you’d send him down to the scout team. But because of that knee, we didn’t want to expose him to (junior defensive tackle) Dre’Mont (Jones) and (junior defensive end) Nick (Bosa) at that time and some of those other guys running by his legs. So we’ve kind of kept him out of that, but as the season’s gone on, he’s gotten reps. We do a lot of work on Sunday nights with the younger guys, getting those guys some work.”
- As a result of Baldwin’s unclear status in August, Ohio State landed Chris Chugunov from West Virginia. The graduate transfer is a junior with another year of eligibility left for next season, bringing experience as an emergency option at quarterback and boosting the depth at the position.
- “That’s why we brought him in,” Day said. “It’s kind of like signing a free agent off of waivers for us, going into preseason camp. Had some experience and came highly recommended. In terms of his maturity, he’s a great young man. But he came in in a tough spot, too. He came in so late in the camp, kind of learning the offense as the season’s gone on and really didn’t get a lot of reps under his belt. But really impressed with the way he’s been handling himself.”
- Day noted that Ohio State’s two running backs, junior Mike Weber and sophomore J.K. Dobbins, performed at a high level against Michigan State. Day also shared his thoughts on freshmen running backs Brian Snead and Master Teague as “talented two young guys” before he brought up sophomore H-back Demario McCall another younger name to know with a lot of talent.
- “They’re running hard, their pad level’s down,” Day said of Weber and Dobbins. “I think that might have been as hard as they’ve run, (against the) No. 1 rush defense in America. We did a good job of blocking them, but there’s always going to be an extra guy there. That’s the way the run game is. We made them miss some and we’ve also run some guys over. Late in the game, we turn four-yard runs into six-yard runs.”