The covid virus has changed a lot of things in college football, including the way that quarterbacks like Justin Fields can work to become better. Be that as it may, Fields has dedicated himself to working with quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis and head coach Ryan Day to not just get better, but to be the best quarterback in college football.
Like every other player in college football, Fields lost spring practice completely and fall practices have been limited due to precautions made necessary by the virus. That hasn’t stopped Fields from moving forward with his game and toward his goals.
“Instead of practicing I would lift then I would spend time with Coach Day,” said Fields. “We would study film and talk about playing the position, then we would go out and I’d throw.”
What Fields lost because of the lack of reps on the field he tried to make up for by absorbing everything he could from Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis, but it was his time with Day that really made a difference for him.
‘I would be in his head and see what he sees,” said Fields.
Fields definitely feels the time spent with Day has moved him to the next level as a quarterback.
“Last year I was trying to grasp the offense and learn the plays and learn the reads. This year I want to learn the ‘whys’ of it, to understand what we’re doing and why certain plays are called.”
The work with Day has made a difference, one that Dennis can see.
“When he comes to the sideline and I ask him what he saw now he tells me what defense he saw, what blitz they were in, he really has an understanding of what’s going on,” said Dennis.
Fields is driven to be a better player by his memory of the season-ending loss to Clemson last year. He doesn’t want to experience that kind of thing again this year, so he has made it his business to do everything possible to keep that from happening, and that means being the best quarterback he can be. There isn’t any one thing that he focused on improving. He tried to improve everything.
“I wrote down a list of what I wanted to accomplish and how to accomplish it,” Fields said.
“I’m improved in every aspect of the game.”
Day is a big fan of Fields’ approach, but he’s been around football a long time and knows that when it comes to getting better there is no substitute for playing football with the pads on. Still, he sees great value in the time he spent with Fields, not only for Fields, but for him as Fields’ coach.
“I had a chance to learn what makes him tick,” said Day. “I saw how fast he learns and how well he takes that to the field with him. I learned what motivates him,”
“Now when he gets the call during the game he knows what I’m thinking, what Kevin Wilson is thinking, and that makes him a better player.
+ Dwayne Haskins, and now Justin Fields, and two five-star quarterback prospects in the freshman class. That doesn’t happen by accident. “I took it as a personal challenge to have quarterback prospects on the roster who are legitimate Heisman candidates,” said Day.
+College Football has gotten off to a rocky start this season as far as defensive play goes. Missed tackles and big plays are everywhere so far in the early going. Ryan Day and the OSU defensive coaching staff have noticed and hope to avoid that with the Buckeyes. “We feel strongly about our defense and our scheme,” said Day. He also feels strongly about his players on that side of the ball. OSU’s depth on defense should help keep players fresh and that should help keep away the missed tackles and mistakes that happen when players get tired.
+Right Tackle is a position that was up for grabs this fall, but according to Day Nicholas Petit-Frere has stepped up to claim that position as of now. Day also said that is main competition there, freshman Paris Johnson, has also played well and has earned playing time this fall at that position.
+Player Rotation is something the Buckeyes have done very successfully in recent seasons. Don’t look for that to change this season. “If a player is game-ready he’s going to play, we’ll find some way to get him on the field,” said Day. That applies to all positions except one. Day said don’t look for OSU to take Justin Fields off the field.
+Freshmen aren’t going to be left sitting on the bench this year simply because they are freshmen. If they are game-ready, they are going to play. In addition to Paris Johnson Day commented that several freshman receivers have stood out so far and are candidates for early playing time in the wide receiver rotation. Day also cautioned that that could change. So far the Buckeyes haven’t spent a whole lot of time in pads, and in Day’s words, the game changes when the pads go on. If the freshmen can continue to shine when the hitting becomes more earnest you are likely to see them on the field.
+Everybody likes big plays but Day warned that if the Buckeyes start looking for big plays and forget about the little things they will get beat. Winning will be decided by eliminating turnovers, controlling the line of scrimmage, being a sure-tackling team, and avoiding penalties. Do those things and the wins will come, and so will the big plays Day said.
+Day said the Buckeyes are happy with their depth at most positions, but three positions still need people to step up to provide the kind of depth the coaching staff would like. Those positions are safety, interior defensive line and right tackle. His comments about Petit-Frere and Johnson at right tackle might mean that position is solidifying. There is talent at the other two positions, but someone has to step up and prove they are game-ready.
+Justin Fields finished last season playing with a brace on his injured knee. Fields said the injury definitely affected his play, but he is now completely recovered from the injury. “I feel great,” said Fields. “The last few games my leg was banged up. I feel great and I’m ready to go.”