The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today on Tate Martell? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
There is no denying the electrifying athleticism Tate Martell brings to the table for Ohio State. But the closer the season gets, the less likely it seems that the Buckeyes should use it even in limited doses given his importance as the backup quarterback. Football obviously isn’t a game that can be played fearing the worst-case scenario. And the coaching staff is almost certainly going to be putting him in the field at some point to get snaps and experience this season instead of keeping him in bubblewrap on the sideline to avoid an injury. But this is about managing risk, and Ohio State already has enough other ways to get rewarded offensively without carving out a special package for Martell.
For starters, Dwayne Haskins can run. He’s not exactly a home-run threat with his legs, but he has enough mobility to extend plays with his feet and enough strength to bowl over would-be tacklers for extra yardage to keep drives alive. Even with what little information has trickled out during this blacked-out training camp, there have been signs that some old familiar plays like the quarterback counter that J.T. Barrett used with such great success are still around for Haskins. The playbook doesn’t necessarily require Martell in order to utilize every page.
Beyond that, Ohio State has more than enough elite weapons already on hand at the skill positions. And simply finding the touches to spread around for J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber, Demario McCall, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill and maybe freshmen like Master Teague and Jaelen Gill will be challenging all by itself. Again, there’s no doubt that Martell is special, but those are freak athletes in their own right. They need the football, and they can give Ohio State an almost endless array of options to attack a defense.
There are, of course, different ways a dual-threat quarterback like Martell can pose problems for opponents since his arm is part of what makes him dangerous. But the Buckeyes don’t need that to become the most potent scoring machine in the Big Ten, and there have been times when rotating quarterbacks has made things needlessly complicated for coaches in the past. Is that chemistry something Ohio State wants to mess with this season?
The answer could easily be “yes” for the Buckeyes. And if so, it will be fascinating to watch what Tate Martell can deliver when given an opportunity. But that package would be a luxury for Ohio State, definitely not a necessity.
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