Faulty footwork causes Fields to take step back

Bill Rabinowitz,Joey Kaufman
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields makes an off-balance throw in the first quarter. Fields said he needs to work on getting his feet set to improve his passing accuracy. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

In his first two starts as Ohio State’s quarterback, Justin Fields resembled a polished veteran more than a newbie.

In the Buckeyes’ 51-10 victory over Indiana on Saturday, Fields finally looked like a quarterback with much to learn. He misfired on several throws and his footwork sometimes faltered.

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“I definitely didn't play up to my potential,” Fields said. “I know I missed way too many throws out there, so I've got to work on that and just keep getting better. I think there's a lot of room to grow, but I will just continue to work.”

It’s a testament to how well Fields played against Florida Atlantic and Cincinnati that Saturday’s game felt like a bit of step back. It was hardly a bad game. Fields threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-24 passing and had a 3-yard keeper to open the scoring. On several tough throws, he threw darts for completions. He still has not thrown an interception in 74 passes.

But it could have been a better day if some of the throws, especially a couple of deep ones, had been on target.

“I thought we missed some deep balls,” coach Ryan Day said. “I thought we had guys open. Justin knows he left some yards on the field.”

Fields agreed that his footwork was an issue.

“I just have to get my feet set,” he said. “I moved around the pocket well. It's just trying to get my feet set before I throw the ball. That'll make me more accurate.”

With J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague combining for 299 yards, Fields didn’t have to do much running. He carried only four times for 11 yards.

Dobbins loves Bloomington

Dobbins said he hadn’t dwelled on his return to Bloomington before Saturday’s game. He ran for 181 yards in his college debut two years ago.

Dobbins made Memorial Stadium his personal palace again, running for 193 yards.

“I tried not to think too much about it before this game, but I knew this is where my career started,” Dobbins said. “Coming here, it’s like a blessing. I appreciate this place.”

With the game settled, backup Master Teague took over for Dobbins in the middle of the third quarter. Dobbins’ career high for rushing yards is 203 yards set last year against Maryland. He acknowledged that breaking that mark crossed his mind.

“I did want it, but there's a bigger plan,” he said. “We've got a lot of other games down the road.”

Smith doesn't last

long in first start

Sophomore Tyreke Smith made his first career start opposite Chase Young at defensive end.

But it was short-lived. Smith was seen on the sideline in the second half in street clothes. He did not record a tackle or sack. Day did not provide an update on his status after the game.

Three days before the game, Smith revealed to reporters that he had offseason surgery on his groin and his recovery prevented him from appearing in the opener against Florida Atlantic. Smith had a sack against Cincinnati last week and had gotten the starting nod over Tyler Friday against the Hoosiers.

Coaches had been complimentary of Smith as a pass rusher. Before the game, Day called him one of the next guys up after Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa and Chase Young.

Freshman Harrison

gets his first sack

Freshman defensive end Zach Harrison sacked Indiana's Peyton Ramsey early in the fourth quarter.

It was his first career sack.

Harrison, who was a standout at Olentangy Orange, was the highest-rated prospect in the Buckeyes' latest recruiting class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.


Senior linebacker Justin Hilliard made his season debut after missing the first two games while recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in spring practice. Hilliard primarily appeared on special teams. … For the third straight week, Chris Chugunov was the first quarterback to replace Fields. Chugunov has been co-listed with Gunnar Hoak on the depth chart without Day publicly naming either the backup. … Defensive end Jonathon Cooper and receiver C.J. Saunders were unavailable to play, but both captains traveled with the team.

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