Chris Olave saw the talent of Justin Fields a couple days into the spring practice season. Up until that point, Fields had been the quiet newcomer, a quarterback transfer from Georgia who did not say much but put his head down and worked hard.
While the sophomore Olave and the rest of the Ohio State Buckeyes wide receivers must have known about Fields’ credentials — he was the No. 2 prospect in the nation in 2018 — seeing it up close was different.
“It felt like he wasn’t missing a pass,” Olave said Tuesday. “He was putting everything on target, and everything looked perfect to us. That’s when we gained that respect. We look at him a a leader of the offense and a leader of the team.”
Fields has turned himself into a Heisman Trophy candidate in his first season at Ohio State. He’s been responsible for 30 touchdowns (22 passing, eight rushing) in the first seven games. That’s one ahead of the pace set by Dwayne Haskins, who was responsible for 54 scores last season.
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Ohio State’s offense has been unstoppable, scoring at least 34 points in every game and averaging 49.7 points, the third-best total in the country.
“We’re very consistent with the run and pass game,” Olave said. “We’ve got two great backs in the backfield. We’ve got receivers who can do everything. And we’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and one of the best offensive lines in the nation. We’re very balanced. We can’t wait to keep it going.”
The Ohio State offense faces its biggest challenge of the season at noon Saturday when Wisconsin visits Ohio Stadium. The Badgers give up fewer points (7.6) and yards per game (193.9) than any team in the nation.
Wisconsin’s 24-23 loss at Illinois on Saturday won’t change Ohio State’s preparation for this game.
“They got really good rushers on the edge,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “(Linebacker) Zack Baun does a great job in one-on-one situations. He’s very active, powerful, especially in third down. Those linebackers do a great job, as well, adding on or blitzing in different situations. But the secondary is very talented, as well. You have to hang onto the ball maybe a little bit longer than you want to. But again, it goes back to personnel and scheme. When you combine the two of those things, you get what you see in terms of the statistics.”
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Olave leads the Buckeyes with six touchdowns. He ranks second on the team in catches (21) and yards (318) behind K.J. Hill (29 catches) and Binjimen Victor (355 yards).
After not catching a pass against Michigan State, Olave led the team with five catches for 60 yards Friday in a 52-3 victory at Northwestern. He said if he’s not catching passes, he’s trying to contribute on special teams or in the blocking game.
“It goes for everybody in the receiver’s room,” Olave said. “It could be me having a big game one game. You go from having six catches one game to zero catches the next game. We’re just unselfish in the receiver’s room, and we have a great bond. Everybody is happy for each other.”
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