Twenty-four touchdowns. Zero interceptions. A nearly 70 percent completion rate.
Justin Fields has been a statistical savant at quarterback for Ohio State this season, but there’s one thing he still has yet to do:
Throw for 300 yards.
In fact, Fields has yet to throw for more than 234.
It would seem preposterous that a team with the No. 3 scoring offense (53.5 points), and No. 14 total offense (524.5 yards) in the country would be manned by a quarterback ranked outside the top 65 in yards per game.
In the Big Ten alone, Fields’ 220 yards per game entering Saturday’s Nebraska matchup ranked behind seven other conference starters, including names like Michigan State senior Brian Lewerke, Iowa senior Nate Stanley and Penn State junior Sean Clifford, whose coaches would likely trade an organ for the chance to replace with Fields.
The lack of yardage from Fields is no indictment on his play, however.
If anything, the fact that the sophomore appears to dominate teams and rack up touchdowns during games in which he has low-200-yard performances and completion numbers in the teens is a testament to the precision and efficiency of Fields and the Buckeye passing attack.
“To have the best dual-threat quarterback in the country, in my eyes, going against him in practice every single day, there’s no better look you could ask for,” senior safety Jordan Fuller said.
Throughout the offseason, head coach Ryan Day swore up and down the offense would look markedly similar to that of 2018. In that system, Dwayne Haskins threw the ball 44.1 times per game over the final nine games of the season.
Five games in for Fields, though, and he’s attempting just 23.2. Not that the Buckeyes have needed any more from him.
The Buckeyes are outscoring opponents 262-43, and one out of every five Fields’ completion this season is a touchdown. For comparison, No. 1 Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence’s ratio is nearly double, with one score per every 9.4 completions.
Fields’ first touchdown Saturday, a 15-yard scramble to the end zone, was representative of his versatile efficiency.
“When you have everything covered, and then all the sudden now you have to worry about him scrambling,” Day said. “When you have to put a guy to spy him, that’s one less guy in coverage. It certainly is a huge advantage.”
Fields has rushed for seven touchdowns in the red zone in the past four games, and he’s scoring once every five carries, excluding sacks.
Entering Saturday with a 192.4 passer efficiency rating, Fields is the fifth most efficient quarterback in the country.
Averaging a 31-point lead at halftime, Fields has scarcely played in the second half of his first five games. Even if he does, as was the case Saturday, the coaching staff maintains his health by handing the ball off to Ohio State’s running backs.
Had Fields been in for every Buckeye snap thus far, his numbers would be higher, but the fact that he hasn’t had to yet means Ryan Day and the nation at large still has yet to figure out just how good Fields is.
“Up to this point, he’s done a really good job. He still really hasn’t played four quarters yet. He hasn’t been in the fire when you gotta go win the game in the fourth quarter, so we’ll see. I thought he made some big time decision tonight, some big time throws.