COLUMBUS, Ohio — We didn’t see him much, but we finally saw Tate Martell on a couple plays in red zone and short yardage situations when Ohio State faced Michigan State on the road this past Saturday.
We saw the dual-threat backup quarterback run for five yards on a single play inside the MSU 10 and then he was brought in on a 4th and 1 play inside Spartan territory before being yanked due to a false start on the offensive line.
Although it was just two plays, we now know that this is a real scenario for the Buckeyes. After weeks and weeks of talking about this hypothetically in weekly press conferences, we now know that Urban Meyer and the offensive coaching staff are planning on expanding Martell’s role here in the final stretch of the season.
“I do,” said Urban Meyer when asked if he plans to expand Martell’s role. “First of all, he’s a good player. I give him a 5 on the competitor scale. Elite competitor. He’s worked his you-know-what off and I do see [his role expanding].”
Martell could be the key to winning championships this season for Ohio State by improving their efficiency in the red zone and their short yardage conversion rate. Obviously, he’s not going to replace Heisman Trophy candidate Dwayne Haskins as the starting quarterback one would think, but his unique skill set could compliment Haskins’ throwing ability in certain situations like the red zone and short yardage situations.
Let’s face it. We all know Dwayne Haskins isn’t a run threat and he’s not going to become a run threat. The man only has 34 rushing yards this entire season and his lone rushing touchdown came against TCU in a goal line situation where a gap parted like the red sea and anyone could have run it in for the touchdown.
That’s not the case for Tate Martell. While he might not have the same kind of arm that Haskins does, Martell certainly has the legs to give Ohio State a much-needed dual-threat option in the red zone and short yardage situations.
Even Martell’s teammates agree that he would be much welcomed in such situations.
“A lot of teams, they know Dwayne doesn’t want to run the ball,” said running back Mike Weber. “Having Tate in there is like another guy to think of, you know that can pull the ball. You know, a lot of times defenses may see Dwayne and they cringe down knowing he’s not going to run the ball, but with Tate back there, it kind of loosens [the defense] up a little bit.”
Weber also said it was a good job by the offensive coordinators to come up with that plan, so we now know that the players are all on board with involving Tate Martell in.
Martell would be most certainly bring improvement to those situations as Ohio State is only 122nd in the country in red zone scoring, scoring on just 34 of their 46 trips to the red zone this season.
Ohio State would be wise to use him in such situations as the biggest team that stands in the Buckeyes’ way of at least winning a Big Ten Championship is their archrival Michigan, who is just 125th in the country in red zone defense, allowing 15 scores on 16 red zone possessions against them this season.
This strategy isn’t new for Urban Meyer as he’s played two quarterbacks in different situations plenty of times in his coaching career (see Chris Leak/Tim Tebow, Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett). This could be the spark for Ohio State’s offense that finally transforms them into the championship contender we’re all expecting them to be.
Be sure to follow Buckeye Beat Report for more news and content on your Ohio State Buckeyes!