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Scarlet Sunrise: Washington’s defense wants Ohio State, Dwayne Haskins to air it out

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Dwayne Haskins will face a tough Washington pass defense in the Rose Bowl. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Scarlet Sunrise

Scarlet Sunrise: Washington’s defense wants Ohio State, Dwayne Haskins to air it out

Good morning, Ohio State fans, and welcome to the Scarlet Sunrise! Football will always be our focus, but every day we’ll cover news, notes and analysis from across Buckeyes sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Ohio State football, recruiting, basketball and more. 

Huskies excited to face Dwayne Haskins

Ohio State’s passing attack vs. Washington’s defense secondary is one of the premier matchups of the entire bowl season. The Buckeyes have blitzed teams thanks to Dwayne Haskins’ big arm and his connection with a talented receiving corps. Ohio State is second in passing offense, averaging 373 yards per game, and No. 1 in most passing touchdowns with 48. Washington is fourth nationally in fewest passing touchdowns allowed with nine and 21st in passing yards per game allowed with 185.4.

Players usually relish these types of matchups, and Washington’s secondary is no different. And before a bulletin board material war breaks out, note the praise the Huskies offered Haskins and the Ohio State offense in talking about the matchup.

“We want teams to come out there and throw,” Washington cornerback Byron Murphy told The Herald. “Also, knowing that their quarterback can throw (and) they have good receivers, that even puts more of a chip on my shoulder because we got to go out and actually play, compete again their best.

“Just knowing that (Ohio State) throws the ball a lot, that’s what we like to do. We like to cover receivers. That’s when they make plays that we got to defend. They have a good quarterback that’s going to put the ball on the money. We just have to go out there and play our game.”

New option emerging

It’s often wild to see how quickly some things can change in recruiting. Ohio State has had an interesting pursuit of defensive tackles in this class, and there’s been some more movement lately. I’ll let Birm take it from here:

Months ago, I added Wake Forest (N.C.) 3-star defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie to the Lettermen Row “most wanted” list for Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class. He was actually removed from that list in November when it seemed unlikely he’d make an official visit to the Buckeyes, but when he did at the end of November, he was placed right back on the list and had moved up considerably.

The majority of the buzz around McKenzie had been with North Carolina for months, and sources close to the Buckeyes were skeptical that he’d be willing to leave home. But in recent weeks, that stance has softened, and there’s now real optimism he could be the defensive tackle option Ohio State has been seeking.

For the latest on all things Ohio State recruiting, check out Thursday’s edition of Dotting the ‘Eyes.

Zach Boren on Malik Harrison

Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison’s strong finish down the stretch might be enough to propel him to become a big-time playmaker going forward.

“It’s just me being confident and just having fun out there. Having more fun and just out there with my guys having fun,” Harrison said. “I feel like earlier was just me just being uptight and wanting to get everything right. As the games went on it was just me being more loose and more relaxed and having fun out there.”

That’s leading to more fun for the Buckeyes on defense as well as they prepare for the Rose Bowl. And former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren was back in the Lettermen Row film lab looking at a few of the improvements Harrison has made this season and how that might impact his draft stock in the latest episode of BuckIQ.

Watch: Zach Boren analyzes Malik Harrison’s improvement

Which positions need work?

Ohio State has a talented roster, but the Buckeyes weren’t firing on all cylinders within every position group for large portions of the 2018 season. In Thursday’s Ohio State question of the day, Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward broke down which position group needs the most improvement.

Counting down

  • Early signing period: 5 days
  • Rose Bowl: 18 days

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