Comparing the Start of Justin Fields' Ohio State Career with Other Notable Buckeye Quarterbacks

By David Regimbal on October 31, 2019 at 2:15 pm
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields

Justin Fields is on pace to rewrite a record Dwayne Haskins set a season ago.

The new Buckeye quarterback, who transferred from Georgia and arrived on the Ohio State campus just 10 short months ago, looks like a tenured vet through eight games. He's picked up the offense quickly and has Ohio State, 8-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally, playing at an elite level.

It's the kind of dream start the coaching staff Buckeye fans dreamed for when Fields announced his decision to transfer. After the loss of a record-setting signal-caller in Haskins, the Buckeyes needed a dynamic replacement — and that's exactly what they have in Fields.

With eight games under his belt and a bye this weekend, it's a good time to look at Fields' numbers and get some perspective. How does the start of his career stack up against other recent Buckeye greats?

Quarterback Stats from the First Eight Collegiate Starts
Quarterback Pass Yds Rush Yds Total Yds Pass TDs Rush Tds Total TDs INTs
Troy Smith 1,270 554 1,824 8 7 15 5
J.T. Barrett 1,856 496 2,352 23 6 29 7
Cardale Jones 1,609 217 1,826 10 2 12 7
Dwayne Haskins 2,801 56 2,857 31 1 32 5
Justin Fields 1,659 319 1,978 24 9 33 1

Fields vs. Troy Smith

I made an effort to include only Urban Meyer-era quarterbacks here because the overall production of the position escalated dramatically when he took over in Columbus. That's why Braxton Miller isn't included. There was just too much Jim Bollman involved.

I made the exception for Troy Smith because Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks aren't a terribly common thing at Ohio State.

Smith's yardage production over his first eight starts (which spanned the 2004-05 seasons) was similar to Fields, but he had less than half the total touchdowns.

The two probably share the most similar skillset. Both have a strong arm and tremendous running ability.

Fields vs. J.T. Barrett

The numbers here frame just how good J.T. Barrett was during his redshirt freshman season. He had the best mix of pass and run production and piled up total touchdowns at a near identical rate.

Of course, the biggest difference between the two is the record. Barrett and the Buckeyes stumbled in the second game of the 2014 season, when Virginia Tech implemented a Bear defense that spoiled the home-opener.

Fields vs. Cardale Jones

Like Smith, Fields has similar yardage production but a drastically better touchdown total than Jones.

The caveat here is the competition. Jones was spectacular in his first three career starts, leading the Buckeyes through the 2014 postseason with dramatic wins against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. Ohio State beat those three opponents by a combined score of 143-55 to claim the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship.

Fields vs. Dwayne Haskins

Looking at Haskins' production gives off some heavy Big 12 vibes. 

In his first eight starts, Haskins had three games in which he threw for over 400 yards. He averaged a remarkable 350 passing yards a contest and had a trio of games in which he threw at least five touchdown passes.

Ryan Day and the offensive coaching staff leaned on Haskins' strong arm because he wasn't as agile or quick on the ground. He was a serviceable runner when he needed to be, but it wasn't an aspect of his game that defenses needed to prepare for.

The biggest difference between Fields and the other quarterbacks listed is his interception rate. Ohio State's new signal-caller has taken remarkably good care of the ball, throwing just one interception in 186 attempts. 

It's clear that Fields is playing at an elite level, and he has the Buckeyes on a path to their first playoff bid since 2016.

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