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Do you think there’s a possibility of catching Wisconsin off guard a little bit and working Haskins in here and there? Something they have never seen on film
— Craig Henman (@henman11) November 30, 2017
The chances of a true sequel to 12 Gauge: The Championship Saga of Cardale Jones don’t look great, despite the similarities that emerged in The Game last week with the strong-armed relief effort from Dwayne Haskins. Even with J.T. Barrett apparently needing surgery for his nagging knee injury, Urban Meyer has listed his senior quarterback as probable and fully expects him to play against Wisconsin on Saturday night.
But given the way Haskins played off the bench at Michigan, is it possible that the confidence Ohio State has in the redshirt freshman now could lend itself to him playing anyway? There were almost certainly conversations about that in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center this week, but my guess is that Meyer wouldn’t want turn to Haskins unless Barrett’s knee clearly bothers him or the offense struggles to gain any traction against the Badgers. Of course, there are examples from Meyer’s past of him making a two-quarterback system work, even once involving Barrett when he was the “red-zone” threat in 2015. But in a game like this, it would still surprise me to see the Buckeyes rolling out something completely new with so much on the line.
That said, the counterargument might be that it’s exactly the kind of gamble that’s needed against one of the nation’s best defenses. Haskins is much more likely to stretch the field vertically, he is more mobile than perhaps he gets credit for, and he definitely wasn’t fazed by the pressure of coming off the bench in the Big House with Ohio State down by a touchdown. Designating a drive or two for Haskins could be a curveball that catches Wisconsin flatfooted, although that coaching staff does have the benefit now of a little more than a quarter of meaningful football to at least evaluate on film. That’s not nearly enough to know everything that might be installed for him, but it’s a safe bet that the Badgers have done some homework on Haskins given the uncertainty about Barrett’s knee.
The gut feeling is that Ohio State wouldn’t want to mess with the rhythm of the starter and will cast its lot with the most prolific touchdown-producing quarterback in Big Ten history. But Haskins should be ready to step in if needed, and I anticipate he’ll have a more extensive game plan available to him than he has previously this season.
Barrett’s status means Haskins isn’t likely getting another full-time shot in the famous starring role Jones played against the Badgers, but a cameo appearance definitely can’t be ruled out.
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