When the Ohio State football preseason began, Ryan Day thought he might have a starting quarterback by now.
>>READ MORE of Day’s takeaways from the scrimmage
An offense full of new faces will continue to develop regardless, but is there an element of leadership missing without anyone having been tapped as the No. 1 quarterback?
Day doesn’t seem to think so.
“I think that all quarterbacks should be leaders,” the first-year head coach said, citing the nature of the position he coached in his previous two seasons in Columbus.
“I think whether it's the starter, the backup, whoever, that's his leadership role and that's just part of the job,” Day said. “At the end of the day, your job as a quarterback is to lead 10 men down the field to a touchdown. So it goes with the job, with the territory.”
If presumed starter Justin Fields needed to be told that after arriving as a transfer from Georgia in January, senior receiver Austin Mack took care of it.
“He came from a pretty good program that's used to winning so it's like, he's been there, he knows what it's like, but he just doesn't know our culture,” Mack said. “So the biggest thing was for us to just help get him acclimated, help get him used to being in that huddle like, ‘Hey, bro, go speak up.’”
He said Fields, who officially is competing with Gunnar Hoak and Chris Chugunov for the right to take the first snaps when the Buckeyes open the season against Florida Atlantic, was advised by some of the veterans to take control in the spring as well as during informal summer workouts.
“I know people might be goofing off, but get on people because that's what the quarterback has to be,” Mack said. "He has to be that that engine. As soon as the season comes, we rely on his voice and it’s like this whole spring (and) this whole summer was all about getting him to feel confident enough to be able to go out there and take that step and be able to put himself out there and make that change.”
That was a message that resonated with Fields.
“I'm just trying to take the initiative right now,” he said August 4 following Ohio State’s third preseason practice. "I'm not trying to wait, I'm trying to get the offense on pace.”
He used that day as an example.
“Yesterday we had a really good practice, but we weren't as good as yesterday, so I got all the guys together and I was like, 'We need to pick it up, blah blah blah, and all that stuff,’” Fields said. "So I'm just trying to become that leader of the offense.”
Although that example made Fields sound more like Jerry Seinfeld than Joe Montana, he has received the approval from teammates quizzed about his leadership abilities so far.
Running back J.K. Dobbins called him, “a hard worker,” adding, “He wants to be great,” while center Josh Myers said Fields has taken charge on the field.
“Especially as a center, I want a leader, someone who's very vocal and clear and concise,” Myers said. “When a quarterback comes up and makes a call, even if it's wrong, that's what we're going with. As a center I'll say, OK let's do it.”
Quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich also said he has seen improved leadership from Fields since he arrived in January.
“When you get more familiar and you build relationships, and you work hard, there becomes trust,” Yurcich said. “And then when people trust you and they know you're working hard, and you trust them, that becomes that bond, and you get to know people. And I think they're working on that. And I think that's growing. And it's great to see him be more vocal, and and be more natural in the leadership position.”
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