COLUMBUS — After a tumultuous past month at Ohio State, only a pair of closely-watched debuts could have kept the Buckeyes’ football season on track.
Ohio State acting head coach Ryan Day watches warm-ups before the start of Saturday's game against Oregon State.
Associated Press Enlarge
Luckily for Ohio State, both of them went as smoothly as they could have hoped.
The Buckeyes officially turned over the show to redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was excellent in his first start, a 77-31 victory Saturday against Oregon State.
More importantly for the season at large, the Ryan Day-coached Buckeyes had few issues in the win. Day coached his first game while Urban Meyer is suspended for three games by the university for his failure to act sooner in disciplining since-fired assistant coach Zach Smith.
The firestorm of the past few weeks and the ample distractions it brought didn’t show up on the field.
“I’m proud of coach Day. He had to take on a tough role and he did it without flinching,” running back Mike Weber said. “My hat’s off to him. He made sure that we stayed and did the things we were supposed to do all the way through it.”
Day admitted to looking around the stadium before the team ran onto the field and asking someone, “Are we really doing this?”
“It was just one of those things where you got to jump into the pool with two feet. Just do it,” Day said.
With the help of Haskins, there were not many nerves for the Ohio State offense. The No. 5 Buckeyes scored touchdowns the first five times they touched the ball, and Haskins had a banner day except for one mistake. The Maryland native grew up dreaming of playing quarterback at Ohio State, and he finished 22 for 30 for 313 yards with five touchdowns and one interception when his chance arrived.
“It’s been an 11-year dream,” Haskins said. “I was thinking about that [Friday], like how far I came just to be here. Just to have this opportunity, it’s a blessing. [I] had to take deep breath and realize that it’s finally here, but you keep getting better and go on to the next week.”
The Buckeyes’ offense gained 693 yards of offense with Haskins at the helm for much of it. Oregon State was outclassed from the outset, but Haskins’ start to 2018 was nonetheless an encouraging showing for the Buckeyes.
“Everyone saw it today,” receiver Parris Campbell said. “If he stays level-headed and just keeps pushing and keeps getting better, who knows what he can do.”
Meyer will return to the team this week for practice, but he is forbidden to be on the sideline for Ohio State’s next two games against Rutgers and TCU, so Day will remain acting coach.
Day said his foremost job in Meyer’s absence is to keep the Buckeyes on track.
Through one week, Day has done at least that.
“I’ve said this before: my job is not to replace coach Meyer,” Day said. “My job is just [to] keep this place until he gets back. And [I] never wanted to replace him — just want to keep this thing going in the right direction.”
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