Ohio State coach Ryan Day hopes Justin Fields will be voted as Heisman Trophy finalist

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is having an excellent season statistically but lags behind other Heisman contenders' numbers because he has played fewer games.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day believes quarterback Justin Fields deserves to be among the finalists for the Heisman Trophy despite having played fewer games than the other leading contenders for college football’s most prestigious award.

Speaking on his weekly radio show on WBNS-FM on Thursday, Day acknowledged the hurdles placed in front of Fields due to the delayed start to the Big Ten’s season and recently canceled games, but said he hoped Fields' performance would merit consideration.

“His body of work is pretty amazing,” Day said. “He’s only had five games, so it’s hard. His numbers maybe don’t compare, but he just hasn’t had the opportunity.”

Fields has ranked as one of the most efficient passers in the country, but other quarterbacks who are seen as the frontrunners for the Heisman have thrown for more yards and touchdowns.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones has thrown for 3,113 yards and 27 touchdowns. Florida's Kyle Trask has 3,243 passing yards and 38 touchdowns. Both have appeared in nine games and lead the Buckeyes’ star in surveys of voters.

In five games since late October, Fields has passed for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns. A three-interception game against Indiana last month, his only interceptions, impacted his Heisman chances.

Fields was a finalist last December and attended the Heisman ceremony in New York. As the only returning finalist, he was an early favorite and aspired to improve on his third-place finish by winning the award.

“I know that was one of his goals, not his only goal, but his individual goal,” Day said. “This year hasn’t made it easy for him. But he’s just got to keep competing, and I think he’s the best quarterback in the country.”

His final chance to impress voters ahead of the voting deadline on Dec. 21 will be in the Big Ten championship game against Northwestern held two days earlier.

The Buckeyes clinched a spot in the title game Wednesday after the conference amended its minimum six-game requirement.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting the size of gatherings, Heisman finalists will participate in a virtual event on Jan. 5.

Davis' injury scare 

Right guard Wyatt Davis said he is “all good” after suffering a left knee injury early in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s win at Michigan State.

Prior to the cancellation of Saturday’s game against Michigan, Davis said he had expected to be able to return against the Wolverines after receiving treatment.

After injuring his knee against the Spartans, he sat out the rest of the game while icing the knee on the sideline.

Despite the game-ending setback, Davis said this week that had no deep concerns about his status moving forward.

“Obviously there was a bunch of things that were kind of just floating through my mind during that moment,” Davis said. “But I knew that I'd be able to bounce back from it. We have a great training staff here at Ohio State. I've been getting treatment religiously. And there's no doubt in my mind that I'm ready and I'm playing. I feel great.”

Practice sightings

Linebacker Tuf Borland and safety Josh Proctor, who were among the 23 players unavailable at Michigan State, have been at practice this week, according to photos shared by the team on social media.

Ohio State has not specified whether the players had previously tested positive for the coronavirus, were in isolation due to contact tracing or had been sidelined by other ailments.

But their presence at practice puts them in line to return next week.

Etc.

Linebacker Cade Kacherski is expected to undergo surgery after he was injured on kickoff coverage at Michigan State. “It's tough, because he's a guy who's really done a great job for us,” Day said. “Really good special teams player. He's a great young man. We're going to miss him.” Kacherski is a junior walk-on from Dublin. … Forty of the Buckeyes' players were academic all-conference selections by the Big Ten, an honor that requires them to hold a cumulative 3.0 or higher grade-point average. Sophomore offensive lineman Harry Miller was recognized for a 4.0 GPA as a pre-mechanical engineering major. … Wide receivers coach Brian Hartline was nominated for the Broyles Award as one of the top assistants in the country.  

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman