New Day: No. 5 Ohio State kicks off 2019 vs. FAU

Field Level Media

August 27, 2019 at 6:13 pm.

Ohio State ushers in the Ryan Day era at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, when the No. 5 Buckeyes host Florida Atlantic in their season openers.

Day, 40, replaced Urban Meyer, who retired after seven seasons in Columbus with an 83-9 record, three Big Ten championships and one national title, claimed in the College Football Playoff title game against Oregon on Jan. 12, 2015.

Technically, Day has been the coach of record before. He went 3-0 as the acting coach when Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season for his mishandling of domestic violence charges against former receivers coach Zach Smith.

Day, who was promoted from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, understands the honeymoon period is short.

“I’ve talked to our guys about the expectations at Ohio State,” he said.

“They couldn’t be higher year in and year out. We know that, but if we focus on that we can get distracted because it really doesn’t matter. In the end what matters is if we win the game and the only thing that’s going to help us do that is to get better day in and day out and to focus on right now.”

The Buckeyes (13-1 last season) and Florida Atlantic have question marks going into the season. The Owls went 11-3 in head coach Lane Kiffin’s first season in 2017 but were 5-7 last season.

“When you don’t play well, guys are humbled, and so they’re ready to go back to work, and they don’t think that they’ve got it figured out,” Kiffin said. “Once you think you got it made and you got it figured out, that’s when we’re all in trouble.”

The Owls will need improvement from redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Robison. He passed for 2,540 yards with 12 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, but FAU will have to find a reliable rusher after losing Devin Singletary (1,358 yards, 22 TDs last season).

Day will rely on Georgia sophomore transfer Justin Fields, the consensus No. 2 recruit in 2018 behind quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who as a freshmen led Clemson to the 2018 national title.

Fields played in 12 of 14 games for Georgia as the backup to Jake Fromm last season but received a hardship transfer waiver to be immediately eligible to play at Ohio State.

He completed 27 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four TDs for the Bulldogs, but that mop-up duty was unlike the pressure Fields will face trying to replace quarterback Dwayne Haskins, now of the Washington Redskins.

“It’s a great honor being named the starting quarterback at such a prestigious university,” Fields said. “I definitely have the potential to be a great player, and God has blessed me with a lot of abilities. I definitely think I can be a great player.”

Ohio State and Florida Atlantic are meeting for the first time.