Justin Fields has received a lot of attention nationally for a couple of years now. He was, after all, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation in 2018, earning offers from everywhere.
Possessing the ability to rip off a 4.51 40-yard dash in high school, Fields showed off his arm at the 2017 Elite 11 camp, earning the top mark among the nation’s best passers.
His overall performance was one of the most impressive those around the Elite 11 program had ever seen. Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer was effusive in his praise of Fields, while also seemingly make a request of Fields’ eventual college landing spot.
“As long as they don’t turn him into a runner that passes,” Dilfer told DawgNation.com at the time. “He needs to be a passer that can run. The way college football is right now, his potential is limitless.”
As a true freshman last year at Georgia, Fields ran the ball 42 times and threw it 39 times. That’s to be expected of a backup freshman quarterback, but it is safe to say that he will never have more rushes than passing attempts in a game again.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t be running the ball. Even with the departure of Matthew Baldwin and the thinning of the OSU quarterback depth chart, Fields is simply too talented a runner to not use him there in some capacity.
“I think that’s a different element that makes it very hard to defend any spread offense that has the ability to have an athletic quarterback,” Ohio State quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said this spring.
“Obviously, you have to account for that in the run game. How much of that? How little of that? Those decisions will be made down the road and what frequency, those decisions will be made at a later time. Right now I can’t really speak to what that will be right now.”
It is safe to say that it will be less than the staff had planned on when they were working on the offense back in March.
Fields, of course, will do whatever he is asked because he’s been running the football for as long as he’s been playing the game, so he’s fine with doing whatever is necessary to win.
“I’m very comfortable in that setting, the read option stuff,” Fields said after the spring game. “I think it’s going to be a big part of us this coming year. I feel very comfortable in that and I’ve been doing it since high school. I think it could be a big part of the offense.”
And while he has no problem running the ball, like most quarterbacks, he’d rather be throwing.
“I’m just going to run when needed,” he said. “I mean, whatever the team needs to win the games, that’s what’s going to happen. I just look to throw first and then if nobody opens or the play breaks down or something like that then I run, but I mainly look to throw first through.”
Looking at Ryan Day’s offense last year, Trent Dilfer shouldn’t be worried too much about Fields not being allowed to throw the ball.
That is, after all, one of the reasons why Fields chose Day and Ohio State.
“Yeah, because at the next level you won’t be able to just take the ball down and run,” Fields said. “It’s a passing league so that’s what you’re there to do and that’s kind of why I came here, to learn and get better at that.”
I trust Day’s use of the read option/running QB far more than Urban. I think Day will use it strategically as opposed to Urban who used it religiously (“QB Power Dive on 2…ready, break”)
OSU has yet to perfect the passer-runner combo; BM and JTB were more runners than passers and DH was a prolific passer, but limited with his runs. With Day, I’m convinced that this natural runner will become a very good passer blessed with the variety of incredible talent at our skills
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