Morning Conversational: What Must Justin Fields Do Above All Else For Ohio State?
Few quarterbacks possess the physical traits of Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Fields.
Heck, few humans do.
Fields is 6-foot-3, 230-some pounds, with a big arm and 4.4 speed.
But that doesn’t automatically make him a great quarterback, or even a starting quarterback. Sure, it’s a great place to start, but there are still rules that need to be followed.
There are progressions, reads, the need for accuracy, toughness, leadership, and any other intangible a coach desires. For a guy like Fields, who can take off at a moment’s notice and go 80 yards for a touchdown, the rules still remain for him. That ability to run does become another step in the process, and because it can be so effective, the Ohio State coaches aren’t going to discourage it.
They do, however, want to make sure it happens at the right time and with the most important thing in mind.
“Quarterbacks coming off schedule and freelancing, I think there’s a fine line with that,” said quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich. “The most important thing with quarterbacks is they have a lot of natural ability, and quarterbacks with escapability — quarterbacks who can extend plays and quarterbacks who can make backyard ball plays is what we’re talking about, ball security is the No. 1. We have to protect the ball. We have to be responsible.”
An ability to run like the Braxton or throw like Dwayne doesn’t eliminate the need to protect the football.
As Jim Tressel used to say, any possession that ends in a kick — be it extra point, field goal, or punt — is better than one that doesn’t.
Protecting the ball is non-negotiable in a quarterback battle. Justin Fields may be able to make every throw, but if three times per game those throws end up in the hands of the defense, he won’t remain the starting quarterback.
“There are a few statistics that correlate to wins majorly,” Yurcich said. “Turnovers is one of those and we can control turnovers. We have to be responsible, we have to be going through our progressions, we have to get the ball out on time.
“If things break down and the creative process takes hold at that point, I don’t think you ever want to take the athleticism away or hinder or handcuff anybody. But there still has to be a discipline throughout the process of quarterbacking.”
Early on we’ll see them try to establish the run in order to set up the passing game. If the run game is effective, that will continue but the passing game will gradually increase as the competition toughens. The schedule is in our favor for that, and that will give us all the chance to see how Fields develops. If he becomes an efficient (not necessarily great) passer we will be in the playoffs. If not, we probably won’t. I think it’s pretty much that simple.
Not throwing it to the bad guys immediately comes to mind…
Making good decisions, accurate reads, and keeping composure. I’d love to see him throw like Haskins, but I don’t expect it. I think if one expects that, one is setting up for disappointment. I’d like to see him manage and lead like JTB. I loved Braxton Miller. He is a legendary Buckeye for the success that he brought to a roster that was full of holes. But I wouldn’t want our present or future QBs looking too much at his years at OSU as something to aspire towards because much of Braxton’s success was Braxton being forced to improvise, forced to make something out of nothing, forced to put the game and the team on his back. No QB now or in the near future at OSU should have to do that. Braxton was an electrifying, exceptional player for us. But so many of his decisions, so many plays he made, had anyone else tried to do likewise they would have been thought to be reckless and foolish. In fact, there were plenty of plays where even for Braxton to do so was reckless and foolish. Footwork, good decisions, correct reads, playing fast. That’s what we need from Fields.
Not sure of his TO issue. It’s not true that he can run as JTB, he will be a much better runner than JTB, the issue is can he lead like JTB and can he throw anywhere near Haskins. JF needs to become Braxton Miller, with JTB’s smarts and leadership and Haskins throwing acumen. Very good point about possessions ending with kicks is better than one that doesn’t. In Day I place my trust and I’m hopeful that JF will have this O humming by the time we travel to Lincoln, NE.
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