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What to look for: Subtle adjustment by Ohio State's Justin Fields in his throwing motion

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass against Michigan in November in Michigan Stadium.

The postponement of the Big Ten football season left Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with a long wait until his first game this fall.

But the prolonged offseason offered an unexpected benefit: He had more time to work on his mechanics.

Over several weeks in August, Fields altered his throwing motion with guidance from coach Ryan Day.

The effort was largely aimed at shortening his delivery, he said last week in an interview with The Dispatch.

“I don't think you could stand out there and see a big difference in my throwing motion,” Fields said. “But I think it's definitely more efficient for me, and I like it.”

As a former baseball player in high school in suburban Atlanta, Fields believes his time spent as a second baseman and shortstop contributed to a slightly long release.

Other quarterbacks with baseball backgrounds have made similar adjustments.

To shorten his throwing motion and cut down on a wind-up, Fields said he focused on “getting my front foot down and having my hip come through and getting the ball up and out.”

Day, who was a quarterbacks coach in the NFL and with the Buckeyes before he was elevated to head coach last year, is hesitant to tinker with passers’ mechanics during a season or in the immediate run-up to games. There are too many other points of preparation to prioritize.

But two months ago, a fall football season looked in peril, leaving a window of opportunity for Day to work with Fields on his delivery. The pair also spent more time reviewing game film and holding individual throwing sessions.

Since a restart of the season was announced in mid-September, Fields said, his throwing mechanics have no longer been a priority for them. Tweaks have rarely been discussed.

“Coach Day doesn't like messing with dudes' forms or motions during the season,” Fields said. “He just wants them to ball out.”

While finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist last season as one of the nation’s most efficient passers, Fields fared well in his first year with the Buckeyes.

Ahead of his second season in Columbus, he has sought to continue the development. During the offseason, he also improved his diet and emerged as a more vocal leader on the team.

He sees changes in his throwing motion as another form of improvement.

“It's probably minor, nothing major," Fields said, "but of course you can always get better in the little things. Learning from coach Day and hearing from him helped me a lot doing that.”

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman