Pressure comes with the territory of being the quarterback at Ohio State. Justin Fields wouldn’t have agreed to continue his career with the Buckeyes if he wasn’t prepared to handle high expectations.
Over the last seven seasons, the Buckeyes have won 90.5 percent of their games, claimed three B1G titles and won a national championship. Every year, the program has been in contention to reach the College Football Playoff.
Fair or not, a lot of that success (or failure) falls on the quarterback. And while those are the parameters in which we use to measure the worth of a passer these days, it’s not what brings me to this story. It’s actually something much less significant in the big picture, but still carries some importance.
Since 2013, all of Ohio State’s starting quarterbacks have finished the season with a completion percentage above 60 percent. That statistic may seem miniscule in comparison to some of the other, more important figures thrown out earlier, but the six-season streak is actually pretty unique.
Ohio State is the only program in the B1G to have a starting quarterback end the year with a completion percentage better than 60 percent, and is one of just seven Power Five teams that can make the claim.
Those other programs? Clemson, Alabama, Ole Miss, Washington, Washington State and Texas Tech.
For the Buckeyes, the six-year streak includes four different quarterbacks: Dwayne Haskins, J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller. The table below only lists the primary quarterback for each season, along with the number of games and ending completion rate for that year:
And if that’s not good enough, all of Ohio State’s backups have completed more than 60 percent of their passes each of those years, too. That list includes the names Kenny Guiton, Joe Burrow and Tate Martell.
So yeah, Ohio State has had some significant success throwing the football over the last six years.
Now, it’s Fields’ turn to step in under center and attempt to keep the unique streak alive. Though his spring game efficiency wasn’t all that great — completing 4-of-13 passes — he brought a near 70 percent completion rate to Columbus from Georgia.
Fields saw a limited number of snaps in 2018 with the Bulldogs, but still hit his targets 27 times on 39 attempts, good enough for a 69.2 percent clip. Maybe those numbers don’t prove too much about his ability, but there should be some reassurance knowing he’ll be operating under Ryan Day.
It’s no coincidence that, since Day’s arrival in 2017, Ohio State’s highest completion percentages have come the last two years. Barrett’s accuracy jumped up over three percentage points from 2016 to 2017, finishing with a 64.7 percent mark. Last fall, Haskins had impeccable precision, finding receivers at a 70 percent clip.
Under Day, the Buckeyes have led the B1G in passing touchdowns each of the last two years and ranked in the top two in total passing yards and completion percentage.
To say Fields has an excellent tutor is an understatement.
Obviously, completion percentage won’t be how Fields is judged during his first season with the Buckeyes. His ability to stretch the field, keep the defense guessing and, most importantly, win games will be how he’s graded in Columbus.
Don’t think Ohio State’s 60 percent passing streak is irrelevant, though. A big reason why the Buckeyes have won 90 percent of their games, three conference championships, and a national title is because of the accuracy under center.
If Fields hits that 60 percent clip like the four quarterbacks before him, there’s a good chance Ohio State’s win total is pretty high in Day’s first season at the helm.