Football

Buckeyes Will Have To Carry the QB Early On In 2019

Justin Fields Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio State schedule this year sets things up as almost two separate seasons.

The Buckeyes play six games before their first open date, then they play two more games before their second open date. The season then concludes with games against Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, and Michigan.

Former OSU head coach Jim Tressel used to say that September was for pretenders and November was for contenders. While that saying still resonates, September for the Buckeyes this year will be about their starting quarterback getting his feet under him.

There will be six quarterbacks on the Ohio State roster this season, none of whom were on the roster at this time a year ago.

Of those six quarterbacks, three will be on scholarship, and all three have arrived as transfers.

Chris Chugunov is in his final season with the Buckeyes, having transferred from West Virginia last year. Kentucky transfer Gunnar Hoak will have two years to play for the Buckeyes. Justin Fields, meanwhile, will have three years remaining, having transferred from Georgia following his true freshman season last year.

Chugunov is the only quarterback on the roster who has ever started a game. His starts came at the end of the season in 2017 when WVU starting quarterback Will Grier was lost due to injury.

Neither Hoak or Fields have thrown more than nine passes in any single game.

The lack of experience and production at quarterback is not unusual, but the complete roster turnover is definitely unique.

“Yeah, the quarterback room, there’s not a guy in that room that was on the roster last year,” Buckeyes’ head coach Ryan Day said last week in Chicago.

“There’s not in a guy in that room that was on the roster in December, other than Chris Chugunov. So it’s an interesting situation. Whoever is playing in that first game will be the first time. Justin and Gunnar are going to compete like heck to go win the job. At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to who can play the game.”

While Fields and Hoak prepare themselves in fall camp, the rest of the team will be preparing themselves for the task ahead.

Whoever wins the job will be an inexperienced starter in a brand new offense. They can’t be expected to hit the ground running. The offensive line will need to protect. The running backs will need to run harder. The receivers will have to make plays and build confidence. And the defense can’t afford to get into shootouts — at least not in the first few games while the starting quarterback is growing into some kind of comfort zone.

Day’s point is clear. Until the quarterback is ready to carry the team as many quarterbacks do, he’ll need the entire team to pick up any slack and straighten out his learning curve.

“Our schedule is funny this year,” Day said. “We have six games, a bye week, two games, a bye week, and then we play four games. And so in those first six games, the quarterback is going to be green. He’s not going to have a lot of experience. So the guys around him, our defense, the running game, the receivers on the end, they’ve got to pick up the slack there, and so as we go and grow throughout the season, we kind of get into that middle season hitting our stride on offense.”

18 Responses

  1. Neither Tate nor Baldwin were the answers. Fields? Who knows, but I have confidence that Day does and that he will put in Fields in the best situation to succeed with his talents. I think his upside is far superior to either of those guys.

    Whether he is the ultimate answer will be answered by mid-season, when the really competitive games begin. He does seem to have the talent. How he develops remains to be seen but if you have confidence in Day, you have to have confidence in Fields until he proves otherwise. I think he’ll be fine.

    I expect the season to start with a lot of running and short, quick passes. That will give everyone time to settle in and get some confidence. It will also give us a chance to see what we have. Face it, there are a number of question marks right now, which makes for a very interesting season. Here’s my thought. The talent is there everywhere. How it is used and developed is key. The past coaching staff failed at that, particularly on the D side. That has been totally rebuilt. How good that rebuild is will tell the tale of 2019.

  2. Forget the running off issue. What is done is done.
    I was not impressed with Fields in the spring game as I was expecting another Haskins. Fields is nowhere near that but I also am confident that Day will modify the offense to use what we have, I.e. use pass plays that Fields can handle and also take advantage of his running skills to keep the heat off the passing game and also free up openings for our running backs.
    I am also hopeful our offensive line can achieve closer to their potential. We had some NFL talent last year on the OL but they underperformed in many games.

  3. Don’t discount Fields’ chances of success. He was the Elite 11 QB competition MVP in 2017 in a group that included Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence started for Clemson as a freshman and we all know how well he did. As for Martell being “run off”, I always thought he was overrated and Fields is as good or better than Martell as a rummer and vastly superior as a passer.

  4. If carrying the QB means adjusting the O to capitalize on Field’s strength, the run, then rather the pass, understandable. OSU needs a game a run-pass threat offense that will initially focus on the short, intermediate and slant pass game, should OSU do that successfully, the O will be just fine before our first bye.

  5. Ohio State, Coach Day, no one “ran off” Martell or Baldwin. That’s just silly. Any guarantee is in your own imagination. He was, probably, promised a chance to WIN the starting job. Baldwin wanted to be back in Texas and Martell wants to be the QB1 without competing. His Miami experience may make him regret his choice. No one was run off. Prove (not assert or guess or imagine) me wrong.

  6. IMHO, “CARRY” is a bit strong. Fields MAY have problems with terminology & fully grasping the playbook, but he’s shown too dang much to just sit back there & be a slug. Especially with the level of our early competition, he should be just fine. Before the end of November, we’ll be asking “Dwayne WHO?” (1/2 jk)

  7. “You dont spurn guys in your program that you recruited out of high school for a guy that has to be “carried”.”

    “they made sound practical decisions given the circumstances”

    Pick one – these are mutually exclusive.

  8. No need to lower the bar on the expectations for Fields. We ran off two other highly ranked/recruited QBs for this kid so he damn well better be ready…day 1. No excuses. If he was worth pushing two kids who had been in the program aside (like they didn’t even matter) then there is no grace period or soft pedaling. He needs to be atop the Conference’s best and quite frankly the rubric he should be compared against is the kid at Clemson (as that was his contemporary coming out of high school).

    1. NOBODY forced Martell or Baldwin to leave the program & nobody said they didn’t matter to the program… They literally both wussied out (especially Tathan) because they knew they couldn’t beat out Fields.

      And by the tone of your comment, I can tell you’ll be one of those clowns who calls for Gunner Hoak to play when Fields inevitably throws his first INT. It’s almost as if you’re waiting for adversity to hit Justin. Yikes.

      1. No. I hope Fields succeeds. I hope he has wild success. But I wont water down expectations or actlike it is ok if he has to be “carried”. You dont spurn guys in your program that you recruited out of high school for a guy that has to be “carried”.

        I dont think Tate or Baldwin “wussied” out. It was clear and obvious they had been “recruited over”. Fields didnt leave Georgia without a guarantee (Express or implied). There was no fair competition to be had. Dont hate these kids, whose jocks you used to love to sniff, because they made sound practical decisions given the circumstances (they did not create).

    2. OSU didn’t run off Baldwin or Martell. Urban had to talk Martell into staying after his freshman season. When he wanted to leave AGAIN after his redshirt freshman season, Day didn’t stop him. Baldwin wanted to go home. Day let him. You don’t chase off both guys and leave yourself with no net.

      1. Cut the b.s. You are out of your mind if you believe those QBs leaving had nothing to do with Fields recruitment…do you think anyone buys that? I understand you are compromised in the assessment and analysis you can give, but dont be so transparent and risk all your credibility. Gheez. Wouldn’t you want to go home too if you saw the job you came and waited for being gift wrapped to someone else?

          1. Gerd, you are not at liberty to be constructively critical…I get it. You have to stick to the script.

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