Las Vegas Sun

March 20, 2019

Currently: 67° — Complete forecast

Former Gorman star Martell shines as Buckeyes discover a potent offense


Jay LaPrete / AP

Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell plays against Rutgers during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban who?

It's only a two-game sample size, and the opponents were Oregon State and Rutgers, but what Ohio State's offense has produced is farcical. Historic even.

One week after piling up 721 yards — second-most in school history — and 77 points against the Beavers, the Buckeyes put up 579 yards in a 52-3 win Saturday against Rutgers. The score actually made the game appear closer than it actually was.

Acting head coach Ryan Day, who doubles as Ohio State's co-offensive coordinator with Kevin Wilson, doesn't have an answer for what he's witnessed.

"I mean, you know, the thing that we talk about all the time is that you just don't know what's going to happen," Day said. "You don't know who is going to get the action. But when your team's players don't care who gets the attention, that's when you can be a special group."

It's almost like Day is a wizard and he pulls names out of a hat for who will score a touchdown next. Six different players got in on the act in this game — seven if you count Haskins, who threw four touchdown passes.

Ten players caught at least one pass, combining for 30 receptions, 354 yards and five touchdowns. Ohio State averaged 11.8 yards per reception. Only three times did the football touch the turf on a pass attempt.

"I think we have a great group of guys," Day said. "We have a lot of talent on offense. And I think that, combined with the tempo, has been great. We did play fast at times. But not as fast as against Oregon State, and that was a little bit by design. I thought we got into some good plays based on what they were giving us and we took some shots in the pass game, and then hit them."

How did Haskins follow up the best statistical performance in school history by a quarterback making his first start? With a showing that was as impressive. Haskins completed 20 of 23 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns, exiting in the third quarter for the second consecutive week.

But he got shown up by the backup quarterback.

Tate Martell didn't throw a single incomplete pass, finishing 10-of-10 for 121 yards and a touchdown to become the first quarterback in school history to attempt at least 10 passes and complete them all. He added an exclamation point on his stat line with a team-high 95 yards rushing, including a 47-yarder for a touchdown.

"I've been waiting for quite some time," said the redshirt freshman from Las Vegas who prepped at Bishop Gorman. "It was just fun getting out there."

In the fourth quarter, Rutgers cornerback Damon Haynes was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he hit Martell as he was running out of bounds. Martell, who got the wind knocked out of him, was down on the ground for an extended period of time.

Three plays later, he ran for the touchdown.

"It wasn't going through my head when I was running the ball," Martell said. "I was just going out there and playing. I'm just happy to be out there finally."

Not to be forgotten in OSU's embarrassment of riches is a running back tandem that's as good as any in college football. Through two games, J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber have carried the football 55 times, gained 364 yards, and scored four touchdowns.

Game-planning for the Buckeyes is a defender's worst nightmare.

"I don't think it'd be that difficult," OSU defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones said, laughing. "Seeing the offense work at what they do is crazy. It's like, man, we're at practice with you guys every day. You never really notice how well they're doing because you're competing so much. When you get a chance to sit back and watch them go to work, it's like, 'Wow, we have a really good offense with a lot of weapons.'"

Gone are the days of underthrown deep balls, a quarterback taking the carries in tight situations, and receivers who fail to use their talent advantage. Ohio State's offense has opened the season on level footing with its perennially great defense.

Five Big Ten teams entered the weekend ranked in the AP Top 25, and Wisconsin is only one spot below the Buckeyes. But the days of the Big Two, Little Eight have returned, except it's the Big One, Little 13.

The recruiting rankings show it -- OSU has signed more top-100 prospects (47) than the rest of the league combined (34) in the past five years -- the on-field product bears it out, and the coaching staff's credentials are singular.

"It's a whole lot of fun," Haskins said. "I want to run so many series, so many plays that we run out of time. And we get up so many points that we can't do what we want. Every series there's an opportunity to go score."

And the man in charge hasn't even been to a game yet.