The Ohio State Buckeyes started off quite hot in their season opener last Saturday. The scarlet and gray had 28 points in the blink of an eye. Just over eight minutes into his career in Columbus, Justin Fields had already accounted for four touchdowns (one run and three pass touchdowns). While the offense slowed down quite a bit after taking that early 28-0 lead over Florida Atlantic to start the season, the sophomore quarterback still went on to have a record-breaking performance.
There are plenty of reasons why the offense may have slowed down, whether it was that head coach Ryan Day wanted to protect Fields, give others an opportunity early on, not show much of the playbook given the big lead, or just taking their foot off the pedal a bit given that they had basically won the game just eight minutes in, the offense still showed the type of potential it has when all things are going right.
With his five-touchdown performance, one that tied Dwayne Haskins’ five-touchdown game in 2018, Fields not only had one of the best performances in a debut for an Ohio State quarterback, but he put the college football world on notice. It’s the reason he comes in at No. 5 in ESPN’s first Heisman Watch of the season.
Notable: Hurts wasn’t the only transfer quarterback who had a stellar debut with his new team. Fields, the Georgia transfer now suiting up for the Buckeyes, also got off to a hot start. The sophomore tossed a 98-yard TD pass for one of his four passing TDs on the day, and also rushed for a 51-yard touchdown against Florida Atlantic.
Quotable: “I think I did good overall,” Fields said. “Of course there’s always room to improve, but we just have to keep working as a unit and just keep getting better in all aspects of the game.”
Justin Fields was as good as advertised today vs FAU 🔥 pic.twitter.com/du46HLR0qP
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) August 31, 2019
In case anyone was wondering, it was a performance that Haskins approved of.
— Dwayne Haskins, Jr🌹 (@dh_simba7) September 2, 2019
Given that it was the first start of his college career, Fields showed plenty of room for improvement, both in terms of in-game decisions, clock management, and just ability to see the open player before the window closes. But, with that said, he also showed Buckeye Nation (and the rest of the country) the type of quarterback he can be in this offense. With his speed paired with his throwing ability, he can wreak havoc against opposing defenses for the foreseeable future. He didn’t try to force anything against FAU, but as he continues to grasp the offense and gain chemistry with his receivers, all of those things will start coming naturally, opening up the offense even more.
Obviously, considering we’re only one week into the season, so much will change, both in terms of the team’s success and individual accomplishments. I mean, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was tied with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the best odds to take home the 2019 Heisman Trophy at season’s end. Given Lawrence’s not-so-great Week 1 performance, he currently sits at No. 6 in the Heisman Watch.
Ohio State’s success is on Fields’ shoulders. Ohio State’s defense bouncing back after a dismal 2018 season is vitally important, but if the Buckeyes want to do anything this fall, Fields must not only stay healthy, but continue to produce, improve, and develop as he grasps more of the offense as the weeks go on.