Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said Wednesday he will likely announce his decision on who will be the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback on Monday.
However, that doesn’t mean Day didn’t tip his hand after the 11th practice of fall camp.
“Justin [Fields] is practicing at a high level now –– had a nice couple really good days here.” Day said. “But we’ll get through the weekend.”
Fields has been the assumed starter since he transferred to Ohio State from Georgia in January, but Day has taken every opportunity since spring training to say the job has yet to be seized.
Ahead of the 2019 Spring Game, that battle was between Fields and sophomore quarterback Matthew Baldwin, though Fields took more first team reps in spring practice.
The Spring Game itself displayed that Fields had less to prove in order to win the job, as 2017’s No. 2 overall recruit threw just 4-for-13, while the Ohio State coaching staff had Baldwin nearly triple Fields’ passing attempts, going 20-for-36.
Even if Day wasn’t saying Fields would likely be the starter, it appeared Baldwin felt that way, as he announced his intent to transfer out of the program less than a week after the exhibition.
Baldwin would mark the second Ohio State quarterback to transfer out of the program in order to avoid competing with Fields for the starting role, as Tate Martell left after news of Field’s arrival in January.
Competition, though, or at least the appearance of it, would be renewed with the June arrival of graduate transfer Gunner Hoak, who played in four games under center for Kentucky this past season.
When asked at Big Ten Media Days about expectations for Fields and the hype surrounding a potential Heisman Trophy campaign, Day said he wanted Fields to focus on winning the starting job first.
Saturday’s scrimmage day at fall camp was one that Day said he expected to have a better feeling on who his starter would be. However, after a four turnover performance from his offense, the first-year head coach said no one had stepped up like he had hoped.
That seems to have changed in the subsequent four days, as Day sang a slightly different tune Wednesday.
“I do think Justin’s taken a stride in the last couple days, in the last week,” Day said. “He’s moving the team nicely, he’s taking care of the ball better in the last couple days –– throwing the ball on time –– so, improvements there.”
In fact, Hoak’s name did not even earn a mention from Day in Wednesday’s press conference.
Instead, Day spoke highly of senior quarterback Chris Chugunov, the only passer to have a year’s experience in the program, whom he said changed his body in the offseason and has “impressed” him with his battle for a potential backup spot to Fields.
Despite Fields taking the majority of the first team reps in fall camp, Day said all his quarterbacks see time at each slot, and that every time a turnover or penalty is committed, the next man up will replace the other while they take a lap.
While few have put much stock in the legitimacy of Ohio State’s preseason quarterback battle, it remains a question that Day must field every time he gets in front of a microphone.
On Monday, though, the much speculated point of debate will finally, in all likelihood, be resolved with the answer that most have been expecting for seven months.