COLUMBUS, Ohio — One day, Ohio State might need Tyler Durbin.
The walk-on kicker mostly has been a luxury this season while the Buckeyes have romped their way to 50-point wins. Over the first five games of the season, he only attempted five field goals.
But what happens if the Buckeyes find themselves driving down the field with a chance to tie or win a game? When the moment comes, both Durbin and his head coach are comfortable with the prospect of a pressure-packed field goal.
Because of Ohio State’s offense, there’s no evidence yet of what might happen if the Buckeyes needed, say, a 50-yarder. Durbin’s 45-yard field goal against Maryland became the longest field goal made by an Ohio State kicker in more than two years. The last time the Buckeyes hit from that distance or longer came when Sean Nuernberger — now Durbin’s backup — drilled a 49-yarder against Penn State on Oct. 25, 2014. Under Meyer, Ohio State has only made one 50-yard field goal — against Michigan in 2012.
Despite the lack of long field goals, Meyer isn’t averse to the idea of trotting Durbin out for a 50-yarder.
“It depends on the wind and the elements and those types of things,” Meyer said Wednesday. “But I wish that son of a gun had more years. He’s a very good kicker. I’m in that range, but it depends on the elements.”
Durbin estimated his range is anywhere from 50 to 60 yards and said he routinely makes 57-yarders in practice. Additionally, his career long in practice came from 62 yards. The kick against Maryland bounced off the inflatable tunnel behind the goal posts and easily would have been good from 50 yards out.
More importantly, maybe, that kick helped him erase the one bad memory from this season. Durbin has made 15 of 16 attempts this season. However, the one that didn’t split the uprights helped hand the Buckeyes their only loss of the season. Penn State blocked and returned his 45-yard attempt late in the fourth quarter for a touchdown.
Durbin said he doesn’t blame himself and couldn’t have done anything differently. Even so, the Maryland kick gave him a chance at essentially an identical kick. He drilled it.
“I was thinking about that, actually,” he said. “It was basically the same exact spot as the one at Penn State, so it did feel good to make that one.”
With Michigan State, Michigan and the postseason up next, there’s a chance Ohio State could find itself in a close game. Durbin said he doesn’t lobby to be used. He simply stands near Meyer, who sometimes asks Durbin for his thoughts before making a decision.
“If he wants to kick, I’m ready,” Durbin said.