COLUMBUS – Much of the crowd at Ohio Stadium last Saturday winced when they saw quarterback Justin Fields take a few big hits from Florida Atlantic pass rushers.
They weren’t alone. OSU coach Ryan Day didn’t like it when he saw that, either.
“Those shots should not have been taken. That’s some of the stuff we’re talking about in terms of cleaning up. I thought he did a pretty good job of getting down what he was out there scrambling. He didn’t take too many shots and made pretty good decisions in the run game,” Day said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“I thought one of the times he took a sack he didn’t need to. He could have thrown that away but that’s all part of the learning curve. You can’t replicate any of that stuff in practice. So he’s learning, learning when to slide and get down, when to throw the ball away.
“There’s going to be times where he has to be physical, and if it’s third and four and he’s got to get that first down, he’s going to do that. But he’s also got to learn that this is a long season,” he said
Fields threw four touchdown passes and had a 51-yard touchdown run in a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic in his first college start.
Day said he saw mostly good things from the Georgia transfer, but there are still a few things he needs to work on.
“He played well in terms of game management. He didn’t try to do stuff that wasn’t there. There are a few things – reads, a few protection things we’ve got to clean up. But the more experience he has, the better he’s going to be.”
Some other thoughts from Day:
• CINCINNATI AND TOUGHNESS: Day said he is impressed with the Cincinnati team former OSU player and coach Luke Fickell will bring to Ohio Stadium this Saturday.
“I think watching the film here for a couple days, we got our hands full. It’s a very good football team, very well-coached, Coach Fickell has done a very good job of building toughness in this program,” Day said.
“I think it’s a veteran group. I think on offense they are led by their quarterback and the running back. They both play really, really hard. They are tough players. They have won a lot of games there. They bring different things to the table that we’ve got to be ready for, and then on defense they’re very, very sound in terms of their scheme.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Fickell and what he’s built down there. I think it’s a very strong program, in great shape. So we know they are going to come in here hungry. Being in the same state we know that means a lot.”
• OFFENSIVE LINE REASSESSMENT: The conventional wisdom was that Ohio State’s offensive line started strong but tailed off against Florida Atlantic.
But Day said after watching video of the game he didn’t think that was the case.
“After watching the film I was more pleased with the way the offensive line blocked than I thought coming off the field there,” he said.
“I thought there was some more yards to be had in the run game than were actually there. (Guard) Jonah Jackson had nine knockdowns in the game and (center) Josh Myers had six knockdowns. Those guys played withck effort, and we have to do a better job of finding the hole and making yards after contact. That’s the bottom line. I know Coach (Tony) Alford and the running backs will be working on that this week.”
• TEAGUE WORKING HIS WAY BACK: Redshirt freshman Master Teague ran for 49 yards on 8 carries against Florida Atlantic but still is not all the way back from the time he lost to an unspecified injury during preseason practice, Day said.
“I thought Master ran well. Unfortunately Master has been out for a bunch of the spring and then for preseason. So he hasn’t practiced like a starter should or even a backup should. And so because of that, that stunted his progress.
“But that being said, when he was in the game I thought he ran hard. I thought he saw stuff. It wasn’t always perfect, but he took care of the ball and he was physical and he carried some defenders with him,”
• OSU VS. UC THROUGH THE YEARS: Ohio State has won 13 of the 15 football games it has played against Cincinnati.
The two schools played 10 times between 1893 and 1931 but didn’t play again for 68 years. Ohio State has beaten the Bearcats in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2014 since the series resumed.
• PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Fields was named Ohio State’s offensive Player of the Week and defensive end Chase Young and linebacker Malik Harrison were the defensive Players of the Week.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau