Ryan Day explains decision to keep Justin Fields in the game in third quarter vs. Rutgers
When Justin Fields trotted onto the field in the second half of Saturday’s game between Ohio State and Rutgers, there was a little disbelief circulating around social media. With a 35-7 advantage and Penn State on the horizon next week, there were questions about whether or not Ryan Day was running a risk by keeping his quarterback in the game for too long.
The Buckeyes took the kickoff of the third quarter and needed just five plays to march 82 yards and put another score on the board, taking a 42-7 advantage. Less than 1:30 into the second half, Fields’ day was done. Still, some thought he should’ve exited earlier.
Concern was compounded by the fact that, earlier in the day, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending hip injury during the Tide’s blowout win over Mississippi State. Many saw that incident as a sign that Day should pull Fields as early as possible and protect his star quarterback.
Decisions aren’t always quite that easy, though. After the game, Day explained why he wanted to keep Fields in the game for the first drive of that third quarter.
“You do the best you can to try to make some decisions,” Day said, according to Bill Landis of The Athletic. “At halftime, we’re up 28. We just felt like that’s not enough if all of the sudden you come out there in the second half, go three and out and they score. That’s 21. That’s not enough. We felt like we needed him to come back out. We said we’re just gonna kinda throw the ball on that first drive. We knew we had the ball coming out in the second half. We were gonna try to get it out of his hand quick. We went down and scored. It worked the way we thought it would and it goes to 42-7. We thought that was enough, and we pulled him.”
Fields finished the afternoon with 305 yards and four touchdowns while completing 15-of-19 pass attempts. He also totaled 30 yards on three carries in the game as Ohio State posted a 56-21 win over Rutgers.
As easy as it was to look at the talent mismatch on the field, Day wanted to ensure the Buckeyes left Piscataway with a victory. Once that was locked up, he had no trouble pulling his starter.
It just goes to show how much thought goes into every decision during the course of a football game. Even the decisions that seem to be easy.