With Justin Fields at Quarterback, Ohio State Should Have More Balanced Production from Its Passing and Rushing Attacks

By David Regimbal on September 5, 2019 at 2:20 pm
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields
© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

If Ohio State's 45-21 victory over FAU was any indication, the Buckeyes offense should have a much more even production balance between its passing and rushing attacks this fall.

Now, outside of the first six minutes of game time that produced touchdown drives of 70, 26, 58 and 46 yards (via a combined 13 plays), the offense wasn't necessary firing on all cylinders against the Owls last Saturday.

But what was clear is the fact that Ohio State's offense has a different look and feel to it with Justin Fields behind center.

In recent years, the Buckeyes offense has slanted toward the skillset of its quarterback. With Dwayne Haskins at the helm last year, Ohio State soared up the pass offense rankings, checking in at No. 1 nationally in passing yards per game. 

There was a trade off with that passing success, however. Ohio State's rushing attack, which had thrived every season under former head coach Urban Meyer, slumped to 58th nationally with just 171 rushing yards per game.

It was the first time Ohio State didn't finish the season ranked 15th or better in rush offense.

During that six-year stretch, the Buckeyes' starting quarterbacks (for a majority of the season) were Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett. Both were capable passers, but neither produced an offense that cracked the top 35 teams nationally in passing offense. As a matter of fact, the pass offense ranked 81st or worse in all but two of Meyer's first six seasons.

But that might not be the case this season with Fields at quarterback.

The true sophomore made his first collegiate start against FAU, and despite some uneven play, he showcased a skillset that suggests an even balance could be coming to the Ohio State offense.

His running ability was on full display during Ohio State's first drive, when he ripped off a 51-yard touchdown run to open the game. As the contest wore on, he showed off a tremendously strong arm and an ability to get the ball to his target quickly and and accurately.

Looking at the box score from Saturday's contest, Ohio State registered 232 passing yards and 237 passing yards. 

If Ohio State can maintain that balance and avoid the lulls it experienced late against FAU, it'll be hard for opponents to key in on a weakness in this offense.

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