Haskins says he’s not hesitant to run


By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com



Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (7) has just 45 yards rushing this season but says he likes to run the football.

Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (7) has just 45 yards rushing this season but says he likes to run the football.


John Swartzel | News Journal

Ohio State at Michigan State, 12:05 p.m. (Fox)

By The Associated Press

Line: Ohio State by 3½.

Series record: Ohio State leads 31-15.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Ohio State is still on course for a season-ending showdown with Michigan that could decide the division title, but the Buckeyes first have to deal with a Michigan State team that has given them problems in recent years. A win this weekend would improve the Spartans’ chances at a berth in the Rose Bowl.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins vs. Michigan State’s secondary. The Spartans have the nation’s No. 1 run defense, but they’ll need to figure out how to contain Haskins, who has already surpassed 3,000 yards passing on the season and is completing 70 percent of his attempts.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ohio State: RBs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Dobbins and Weber have both run for over 600 yards on the season, so the Buckeyes have options when they want to test Michigan State’s run defense.

Michigan State: QBs Brian Lewerke and Rocky Lombardi. Lewerke has been the starter most of the season, including last weekend against Maryland, but he’s dealt with an injured shoulder, and Lombardi has been capable in relief. Coach Mark Dantonio stood by Lewerke as the starter this week.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan State beat Ohio State en route to Big Ten titles in 2013 and 2015, but the Buckeyes breezed past the Spartans 48-3 last year. … Ohio State DT Dre’Mont Jones has at least one tackle for loss in seven straight games. … Ohio State has scored 20 or more points in 21 straight games. … The Buckeyes are 24-3 in conference road games under coach Urban Meyer. Michigan State has lost five straight home games in this series. … Michigan State is 10-6 in its last 16 games against teams in the AP top 10.

COLUMBUS – Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins says he’s OK with running the football, in fact he likes to do it even though he hasn’t done much of it this season.

“I do like running. I’d rather sit back and throw the football because that’s what I do. But if I need to, I can do it,” Haskins said after practice on Tuesday.

Haskins has thrown for 3,053 yards and 32 touchdowns, which is tied for first nationally, and has completed 69 percent of his passes in his first year as a starter. But he has gained only 45 yards on the ground and has run for one touchdown in OSU’s nine games, quite a contrast with the two quarterbacks who dominated that position in Urban Meyer’s first six seasons at Ohio State.

Last year’s starter J.T. Barrett rushed for 3,263 yards and 43 touchdowns in his career and Braxton Miller ran for 3,315 yards and 33 touchdowns in the three seasons before Barrett became the starter in 2014.

OSU coach Urban Meyer often referred to Barrett’s ability to pick up short yardage as a “get out of jail free card” for the Buckeyes’ offense.

So far this season, Haskins has been more likely to throw the ball in those situations. And when he has run he has not appeared very comfortable doing it.

He never looked less comfortable than he did on a carry against Nebraska last Saturday when he went into a slide probably five yards sooner than he had to.

When Haskins led Ohio State to a come-from-behind win at Michigan last season after Barrett was injured, he had a 22-yard run where he dived for the end zone and came up just short of the goal line to set up the go-ahead touchdown.

So, how could he look so aggressive on that run and kind of tentative on most of his runs this season?

“I would say I haven’t had an opportunity yet to have a scramble like that because of how that play was set up. It was man coverage and we’re getting a lot of zone coverage now because we throw the football so much,” Haskins said. “On that specific scramble last year there was nobody keying on me, so I just took off.”

Looking back at his early slide against Nebraska, he said, “I was on the way down. I could have run a little more. I was working on running the ball today in practice and working on making people miss in space and all the tools I need to make plays. If I get in the open field this week, I’m going to try to make more plays.”

Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) plays at Michigan State (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) on Saturday. The Spartans lead the country in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (71.7). But Maryland and Illinois are the only Big Ten teams who have given up more touchdown passes than the Spartans.

Haskins says he has been studying MSU’s defense and one of the sources he mentioned was a little surprising and might have added a little more fuel to Michigan State’s rivalry with Michigan.

“I’ve watched like five games of Michigan State since Sunday. I talked to (Michigan quarterback) Shea Patterson. He played them earlier in the year,” Haskins said.

“I’ve known Shea since I was in the eighth grade. We played in an all-star game together, we were at Elite 11 and all that kind of stuff. So, I hit him up and asked him how they played defensively and he just gave me some tips going into this week,” he said.

Michigan State had similar statistics against the run coming into its game against Ohio State last season when it ranked third nationally, allowing 87 yards a game on the ground.

But Ohio State rolled up 524 yards overall, including 335 yards rushing in a 48-3 win over the Spartans. Mike Weber rushed for 162 yards, including touchdown runs of 82 yards and 47 yards. J.K. Dobbins went for 124 yards and Barrett ran for two touchdowns in what Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called “a meltdown.”

Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (7) has just 45 yards rushing this season but says he likes to run the football.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/11/web1_OSU_neb_haskins.jpgOhio State’s Dwayne Haskins (7) has just 45 yards rushing this season but says he likes to run the football. John Swartzel | News Journal

By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com

Ohio State at Michigan State, 12:05 p.m. (Fox)

By The Associated Press

Line: Ohio State by 3½.

Series record: Ohio State leads 31-15.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Ohio State is still on course for a season-ending showdown with Michigan that could decide the division title, but the Buckeyes first have to deal with a Michigan State team that has given them problems in recent years. A win this weekend would improve the Spartans’ chances at a berth in the Rose Bowl.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins vs. Michigan State’s secondary. The Spartans have the nation’s No. 1 run defense, but they’ll need to figure out how to contain Haskins, who has already surpassed 3,000 yards passing on the season and is completing 70 percent of his attempts.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ohio State: RBs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Dobbins and Weber have both run for over 600 yards on the season, so the Buckeyes have options when they want to test Michigan State’s run defense.

Michigan State: QBs Brian Lewerke and Rocky Lombardi. Lewerke has been the starter most of the season, including last weekend against Maryland, but he’s dealt with an injured shoulder, and Lombardi has been capable in relief. Coach Mark Dantonio stood by Lewerke as the starter this week.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan State beat Ohio State en route to Big Ten titles in 2013 and 2015, but the Buckeyes breezed past the Spartans 48-3 last year. … Ohio State DT Dre’Mont Jones has at least one tackle for loss in seven straight games. … Ohio State has scored 20 or more points in 21 straight games. … The Buckeyes are 24-3 in conference road games under coach Urban Meyer. Michigan State has lost five straight home games in this series. … Michigan State is 10-6 in its last 16 games against teams in the AP top 10.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau