Land of 10/file photo
Tate Martell has the physical tools to run any kind of offense Ohio State might want.

Ohio State football: Tate Martell could thrive in pro-style offense, too

Austin Ward

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As long as Urban Meyer is around, there isn’t much of a chance of Ohio State ever operating something that truly resembles a typical pro-style offense. Particularly now with Ryan Day’s background under Chip Kelly, combined with Kevin Wilson’s lifetime of experience blending various spread and option styles, the Buckeyes aren’t going to be putting the quarterback behind center and highlighting a drop-back passer anytime soon. But it is true that some new elements will come to the aerial attack, mostly in the form of expanding the vertical package and likely getting Ohio State into a position to feature a more diverse array of routes for a talented group of wide receivers.

Mostly that next phase seems to hinge on the rocket right arm of Dwayne Haskins. But don’t write off Tate Martell in that discussion, either, because he has the tools to thrive with that sort of playbook as well. Typically his mobility and the fact that he is undersized (and probably generously listed at 5-foot-11) leaves him pegged with the dual-threat tag that tends to be a signifier that the legs are more important than the arm.

Dwayne Haskins-Ohio State-quarterback-Buckeyes-depth chart-Big Ten-2018-quarterback competition
Dwayne Haskins and his big arm could have plenty of chances to throw downfield this season. (Land of 10/file photo)

And, yes, it is true that a player who lined up as a wide receiver and a running back on the scout team last season has speed, elusiveness and dangerous feet. But Martell already showed during his illustrious high school career that he has no problem passing first and taking off running only if needed, potentially putting him in the mold of a Russell Wilson — or a more explosive version of famous Meyer product Alex Smith.

Now, given Martell’s natural skills, odds are that Ohio State wouldn’t be phasing out the zone-read elements or designed quarterback rushes with him quite like it would with Haskins. But particularly with the former, the Buckeyes aren’t likely to abandon those with the taller, stronger Haskins anyway — especially because Cardale Jones offered one reminder of how useful those can be even for a quarterback without high-end speed.

The key with Martell, I believe, is that he wants to be a passer and distributor. And that alone should mesh with Ohio State’s desire to get more done through the air. Looking at it from the outside, it doesn’t look like a shift to a more pro-style offense as much of an evolution of the power-spread. And Martell absolutely could play a significant role in its implementation.

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