Extra Points: Justin Fields is ready to dominate the season he fought so hard to save
CFB Insider Matt Hayes’ weekly guide to the college football weekend:
This is what he fought for. Now it’s time for Justin Fields to show why the 2020 season was so important to Ohio State and his professional future.
After an extended wait brought about by a global pandemic and some globally bad leadership, the Big Ten begins play this weekend – and all eyes will be on Fields.
It was Fields who publicly led Big ten players and coaches in pushing back against the idea of canceling the fall football season and trying to play in the spring of 2021.
It was Fields whose open letter petition to Big Ten officials, pleading to play in the fall of 2020, had more than 200,000 signatures and created a movement that contributed to forcing the Big Ten back to fall football.
And it is Fields, after an impressive first season as a starter at Ohio State in 2019, has an opportunity to reach elite heights this season.
The Buckeyes might be the nation’s most complete team, and Fields has a chance to lock up the No.2 spot in the 2021 NFL draft behind Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“He’s not (Lawrence); they’re not close,” an NFL scout told me this week. “But he’s really intriguing. Look at his production in his only season as a starter. He can make every throw, and he’s really athletic. He reminds me a lot of Dak Prescott coming out of college. Dak was a phenomenal leader, and he improved every season in college.
“When I look at (Fields), I see a guy with a ton of talent in an offense catered toward quick, easy read throws. That’s not a knock on him or the offense. But if you look at the guys in that offense prior – (Braxton) Miller, (JT) Barrett, (Dwayne) Haskins – they’re all the same player, except Haskins was more physically gifted. The one guy that couldn’t get on the field there (Joe Burrow), was the best of all of them. The production Fields had last year was ridiculous. But he has to prove he can make multiple level throws accurately, consistently.” …
How Florida’s COVID issues helped … Georgia?
Florida’s COVID problems may be exactly what Georgia needs to fix its struggling passing game.
You read that right.
Because Florida had to postpone 2 games (LSU, Missouri), the SEC moved around schedules that resulted in Georgia getting a bye this week. Translation: more practice repetitions for QB JT Daniels.
I wrote earlier this week that Georgia can’t win the SEC with Stetson Bennett at quarterback, and that Daniels is more than likely the only option. The former 5-star recruit, who transferred after playing 1 season at USC and injuring his knee 1 game into his sophomore season, will get more reps with the first-team offense over the next 2 weeks.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart says Daniels still is recovering physically from the knee surgery on a torn ACL (and a setback from a cleanup procedure 3 months after the injury), even though he has been medically cleared to play.
“I think (Daniels’) mobility is getting better as time goes through and he’s moving around,” Smart said on this week’s SEC teleconference. “He’s taking a lot of reps and growing and he’s competing.”
Daniels was medically cleared to play on Sept. 28 but hasn’t take a snap this season.
“Medically cleared is saying he can go out and get tackled and play football,” Smart said. “It’s unique to that position because the quarterback doesn’t go live until real game time.”
If you’re reading between the lines, it looks fairly obvious that Daniels isn’t yet physically ready to play. For now. The last thing Smart – or Daniels, for that matter – wants to do is play Daniels and risk further injury because he’s either not healthy, or can’t protect himself. …
Ferentz, Iowa desperately need a 1-0 start
Iowa begins a season unlike any other in coach Kirk Ferentz’s 23 years at the school.
An offseason of turmoil and uncertainty begins this weekend at Purdue, whose coach, Jeff Brohm, won’t coach because he tested positive for COVID.
Why not another layer of the unknown heading into the opener. Though this curveball isn’t remotely close to what Iowa has been dealing with.
You don’t go through months of controversy, of allegations of racism and bullying within the program, without some lasting impact. The football field has always been safe refuge for other crossroads seasons under Ferentz, but none were like this.
It’s important for this talented team to play well in the opener, to set the tone for the remainder of the season. Struggle and lose at Purdue, which doesn’t match up with Iowa and doesn’t have its head coach, and the season could unravel quickly.
It’s one week, you say. How can it all go wrong in one week?
“What they went through this summer is something that can tear apart a community, much less a team,” one Big Ten coach told me. “All of us, as coaches, have dealt with crisis in our careers, but I don’t think to the extent they have.” …
SEC schools wanted Boise State QB. Now we know why
I spoke to an NFL scout this week about Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who played well in 2019 as a true freshman but missed multiple games because of a few injuries.
Bachmeier had offers from multiple Power 5 schools as a 4-star recruit (including Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss), but chose Boise State because he wanted to work with Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, who has a history of developing elite players at the position during his time as an assistant and head coach in Boise.
“I saw him Week 1 last year against Florida State – best player on the field,” an NFL scout told me. “I was shocked at how much poise he played with. He’s got a big arm, and he’s a tough kid. He was standing in there, taking some big hits but getting accurate throws off.”
Bachmeier was 7-1 as a starter last year and worked through hip and shoulder injuries. He is the biggest quarterback recruit to play at Boise State, and in 2 years could be the best Group of 5 NFL quarterback prospect in years.
“He’s got to refine some things, but he’s a young guy who does a lot of good things,” the scout said. “Got to understand ball security. Young guys don’t really grasp the idea of ball security. They think they can fit any ball anywhere because they’ve got a big arm. He’ll learn.”