Why Justin Fields Is Perfect QB to Lead Ohio State Out of the Meyer-Haskins Era

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2019

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Justin Fields #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs passes against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on September 15, 2018 at Sanford Stadiuym in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Justin Fields is a big name with a star-studded billing. Based on that combination alone, the former Georgia quarterback has garnered praise for his future at Ohio State.

However, a 5-star recruiting profile, limited snaps as a true freshman and highly publicized transfer process don't answer the "why."

And "he's really good" isn't enough.

Fields can be special at Ohio State because his best attributes mirror the essential components of today's most dangerous offenses. The transition from Urban Meyer and Dwayne Haskins to Ryan Day and Fields should be a near-seamless endeavor in Columbus.

College football has become a game of attacking space. A majority of national championship contendersAlabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, even Ohio State under Meyeruse spread-based attacks to maximize stress on defenses.

Offenses can thrive without a dual-threat quarterbackClemson won the 2018 national title with pro-style signal-caller Trevor Lawrence behind centerbut mobility is an enormous asset.

To this point, that's mostly what we've seen of Fields. He scampered for 266 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman.

Georgia mostly inserted Fields as a change-of-pace quarterback, often for only one play. And against SEC competition, he rarely threw the ball. He attempted only 12 passes in league play, six of which came during a blowout of Vanderbilt.

That also explains a particularly pointed comment to a teammate after a win over South Carolina.

"I handed the ball off good as f--k," he said. "I didn't do s--t, bro."

Given that Georgia averaged a 20.7-point margin of victory in seven SEC wins, Fields' frustration is understandable. He had much more to offer, yet the Bulldogs rarely utilized his arm. Even in blowouts, they could've showcased his versatility.

The threat of a running quarterback can create major opportunities to shred a defense through the air.

To counteract that mobility, defenses traditionally keep bodies near the line of scrimmage. However, that desire to contain the run means there's more space to attack behind them.

Fields' recruiting tape is littered with examples of his powerful arm.

Having a strong arm is important, but it only matters if the quarterback is accurate. As noted offensive wizard and Washington State head coach Mike Leach said in 2016, it's easier to teach a shortstop how to play quarterback than to fix a quarterback's accuracy.

In high school, Fields posted a 66.5 completion percentage with 44 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. And even in limited action last year, Fields notched a 69.2 rate with four scores and zero picks.

Day's offense is built to showcase that downfield ability in calculated fashion. According to Pro Football Focus, Haskins threw the most deep touchdowns (20-plus air yards) of any Big Ten quarterback, yet he attempted deep passes at one of the lowest rates within the conference.

Fields will fit nicely into that philosophy.

After all, Day's system is built on high-efficiency throws behind or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. There are complexities within the offense, but many of Fields' attempts will be immediate throws with no post-snap decision-making necessary.

That structure should benefit Fields while only slightly limiting his creativity. His high school highlight reel showed a reasonable concern with regard to him drifting from the pocket, but a system built to distribute the ball quickly mitigates that worry.

And if an open receiver isn't there, Fields can show off his 4.51 speed. That isn't such a bad backup plan.

Given the roster's returning talent, Ohio State would've been viewed favorably in 2019 regardless. But now that Fields is eligible for Day's first season, the Buckeyes are every bit the national championship contender Meyer built the program to be.


All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.


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