Justin Fields is expected to play in the College Football Playoff title game against Alabama, according to Ohio State head coach Ryan Day.
Fields, OSU’s star quarterback, took a hard hit to his side late in the first half of the CFP semifinal game against Clemson. Fields stayed down on the field momentarily before slowly making his way to the sideline. Fields returned to the game but was in obvious pain at times as the Buckeyes trounced Clemson 49-28 to clinch a spot in the national championship game.
After the game, Fields said he took a pain-relieving “shot or two” in the medical tent on the sideline before returning to action. Day, when addressing reporters on Monday, declined to get into specifics about Fields’ injury but said he expects his quarterback to play against the Crimson Tide.
“I definitely expect him to play, but we don't get into specifics on injuries. We give our availability report at the end of the week, and that's always been our policy,” Day said.
Day called Fields’ performance — 385 yards and six touchdowns — one of the “gutsiest” he has ever seen in person. Day said it was up to OSU’s medical staff to make the decision about Fields’ ability to return to the field after taking such a painful hit.
“I leave all that stuff up to our medical people who are the best in the country,” Day said. “Justin is such a competitive guy. He wasn't going to come off the field, and that's just the way he's wired. You were going to have to pull him off the field.”
The hit resulted in a targeting penalty and an ejection for Clemson linebacker James Skalski. Day said Fields felt better than he expected when he woke up the morning after the game.
The national title game is scheduled for next Monday night in Miami, and Day said Fields is expected to have a normal workload in practice this week.
Fields struggled in Ohio State’s win over Northwestern in the Big Ten title game, going just 12-of-27 for 114 yards and two interceptions. Day said the way Fields bounced back and performed against Clemson was the latest example of Fields’ growth as a quarterback.
“I think that's part of learning as a quarterback is overcoming adversity, and the truth is he really hasn't had a lot of adversity. This is somebody who's had a lot of success throughout his career. He's very, very talented and very, very smart, and so when you look at the great quarterbacks, they all have to overcome that adversity,” Day said.
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