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.”