The moment caused breathlessness among Ohio State fans.
For several minutes late in the fourth quarter of a win Saturday over Penn State, quarterback Justin Fields lay on the field, receiving medical attention. A sack by Nittany Lions safety Lamont Wade had caused Fields some pain in his lower body, possibly a foot.
“You rarely hear 100,000 fans this quiet,” observed play-by-play broadcaster Gus Johnson during the Fox telecast.
The health of Fields, a possible Heisman Trophy finalist, looked in jeopardy. But he ultimately returned to the Ohio Stadium sideline, jogging slowly.
“Any time you see your starting quarterback on the ground, it's not a good feeling,” coach Ryan Day said Tuesday. “He was able to shake it off, run off the field. We expect him to be fine.”
As Fields prepares for his first matchup with Michigan on Saturday, he must recover from the previous hard-fought Big Ten game. He ran a career-high 21 times and absorbed his share of punishing hits.
Day acknowledged that Fields was likely to run more often when the Buckeyes are in competitive games. A similar situation could arise against the Wolverines. The heavier workload against Penn State, including managing possible injury, impressed some teammates.
“The fact that he was able to just bounce right back up and keep on going, it says a lot about his toughness and his character,” right guard Wyatt Davis said. “He's just an incredible leader. And that's the type of effort you want from your quarterback, especially when it gets in those tough, physical games.”
Cooper has one game left, but which one?
Defensive end Jonathon Cooper will play in one more game this season before redshirting, but it has not been determined which one.
Day left open the possibility that Cooper could return at any point, including at Michigan, the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 7 or a possible College Football Playoff game.
“A lot of things come into play,” Day said. “The depth of our D-line. His overall health, if he's exactly at 100 percent. What the game plan is. It's good to know we have a game we can use him in if it fits.”
The team announced last week that Cooper planned to redshirt and return for a fifth season. He had been limited for most of this season because of a high-ankle sprain. Under NCAA rules that took effect last season, players who appear in no more than four games are eligible to redshirt.
Before the season, Cooper, one of seven team captains, was set to start at defensive end opposite Chase Young. Cooper started 13 games last season and finished with 25 tackles, including 6.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Hafley semifinalist for Broyles award
Jeff Hafley has been named one of 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award.
The award is presently to the nation’s top assistant coach, and Hafley, in his first season as the Buckeyes defensive co-coordinator, has overseen significant improvement.
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Ohio State ranks No. 1 in the nation in both scoring defense with 10.5 points allowed per game and total defense with 217.4 yards allowed per game.