COLUMBUS — Blake Haubeil proved how valuable he can be to Ohio State.
It wasn’t in the final second of a tight game last season. It wasn’t in front of 100,000 screaming fans, and it wasn’t even meaningful in the box score of the 49-point win in which he showed the Buckeyes what he can do with his leg.
Haubeil showed Ryan Day, special teams coordinator Matt Barnes and everyone at Ohio State just how important he can be at Northwestern last season, when he hit a 55-yard field goal that some thought didn’t have a chance to find the uprights. The final play of the first half extended an insurmountable Ohio State lead, but the score didn’t matter.
What matters is this: Ohio State knows if it needs a long field goal to win a game, Haubeil can knock it through.
“It’s awesome — it proves to yourself, your team, your unit, that you can execute at a high-level from long-distance range,” Haubeil said. “It’s incredible. Just the love and support the team has shown throughout the year. It just made it that much more special.”
Despite the lopsided score and the half-empty stadium at Ryan Field in Evanston back in October, Haubeil’s teammates erupted onto the field and mobbed him after the officials signaled that his field goal had split the uprights.
Ohio State is more talented than nearly every team it faces each fall. The Buckeyes rarely need a game-winning field goal at the end of any situation. And this wasn’t game-winning.
But it certainly gave Haubeil the confidence he needed to hit big field goals against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and keep the Buckeyes on the scoreboard when they couldn’t find the end zone in the first half of the Fiesta Bowl.
Day and the coaching staff bet on him. And no matter the situation, when Haubeil delivered, he deserved the celebration.
“It was good to see the team rally behind him like that,” Day said after that game. “It goes to show you the confidence the team has in him, also just the chemistry of our team in general. I think it kind of put an exclamation point on the whole half.”
That kick allowed Day and the coaching staff to see for themselves that Haubeil could make longer kicks in game situations. And even in a blowout, there was certainly pressure for Haubeil to knock it in. He was just happy to have the chance to attempt a field goal that long. In the Ohio State offense, field goals sometimes are inside 30 yards. And he can hit them with ease.
And the Buckeyes know he can make the longer kicks, too.
“It’s a blessing anytime I get to go on the field,” Haubeil said. “Coach Day obviously had faith in our unit to go out there and execute, but I just stay ready at all times, whenever I get called on I try my best to go out there and execute.
“That definitely says a lot about the trust and faith he has in us. So I absolutely love the fact that he put us out there. It is a blessing.”
Haubeil proved how valuable he can be for Ohio State. And in an uncertain season inside uncertain environments, the steady, long-firing leg of Blake Haubeil could be just what the Buckeyes need.
Only next time, Day could need him to hit one in a tighter game.