For the first time since 2011, Ohio State football took the field for its annual Spring Game Saturday without Urban Meyer as head coach.
While Ryan Day begins his first year at the helm, he and the Buckeyes will no longer be able to rely on the record-setting arm of Dwayne Haskins to start games under center at Ohio Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields seemed to prove himself to be Haskins’ heir apparent as Ohio State’s starting quarterback Saturday, as he led Team Gray to a 35-17 win against Team Scarlet on 131 yards and 2 total touchdowns at the Spring Game.
Day said both Fields and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin still have improvements to make.
“They both did a good job today, they both flashed at times,” Day said. “It’s still a work in progress. We still got work to do.”
After starting off 3-for-10, Fields displayed his playmaking ability when he uncorked a 98-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Binjimen Victor with under two minutes remaining in the first half to put Gray up 21-7.
Matthew Baldwin played for both the Scarlet and Gray teams as he took snaps on the bulk of the possessions, going 20-for-36 with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble.
One of those scores was an 18-yard dart hauled in by freshman wide receiver and five-star recruit Garrett Wilson in the corner of the endzone to tie it up 7-7.
Wilson finished with four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown and seemed poised to factor into an Ohio State receiving core that seeks to make up for the 195 receptions lost to Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin.
Redshirt freshman running back Master Teague started the scoring on Saturday with a 1-yard touchdown run. He showed another flash in the second half with an untouched 22-yard score to put Team Gray up 35-17.
Teague put up a game-high 75 yards on the ground with two touchdowns.
With Mike Weber foregoing his final year of eligibility for the Buckeyes, Teague will likely get more touches to help replace Weber’s 1,066 yards and six touchdowns from scrimmage in a backup role to junior J.K. Dobbins come fall, who recorded three carries for nine yards on Saturday.
Fields showcased his speed on his first score as a Buckeye with a five-yard touchdown run on a read option to put Team Gray up 14-7 in the second quarter.
The former Georgia quarterback frequently went to his legs as he finished just 4-for-13 passing and picked up 38 yards on the ground.
“There were ups and downs,” Fields said. “That just comes with, as coach says, growing pains. So I just have to keep improving and keep working and I think it’ll be good.”
Despite the “thud” tackling rule, implemented by Day to prevent injuries, the Gray defense was still able to generate turnovers in the first half.
Junior safety Amir Riep picked off Matthew Baldwin on the first drive of the second quarter to set up a Team Gray touchdown and redshirt junior safety Jahsen Wint intercepted Baldwin and senior quarterback Chris Chugunov on consecutive possessions in the final two minutes of the first half.
“We’ll just keep building from here, but there’s a lot of good pieces, a lot of good leadership starting to form out there,” Day said.
Ohio State will open up its season on Aug. 31 against Florida Atlantic.
Updated at 3:29 p.m. with quotes from Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and sophomore quarterback Justin Fields.