No player will mean more to his team’s success in the college football championship game than Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Which makes the injury he sustained in Ohio State’s Sugar Bowl win over Clemson that much more important.
The shot Fields took in that game won’t keep him from playing Monday. But he has raised questions not only about the severity of his injury, but also about how healthy he will be when the Buckeyes take on top-ranked Alabama. There is also the question of what exactly your injury is.
Here’s what you need to know about Fields’ injury, how he sustained it, and the aftermath ahead of Ohio State’s clash with Crimson Tide:
MORE: Why did Justin Fields transfer to Ohio State?
How was Justin Fields injured?
Fields’ injury occurred with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter of Ohio State’s Sugar Bowl semifinal against Clemson. On that play, Fields fought for an 11-yard gain to Clemson’s 19-yard line. At the end of the play, Fields tried to get out of an incoming tackle from Tigers linebacker James Skalski. Clemson’s defender lowered his head and hit Fields on the back, causing the quarterback to lie face down on the field for several moments.
While the coaches attended to Fields, officials reviewed the play and ruled that Skalski had targeted the Buckeyes’ signal caller, expelling him from the game. Interestingly, it was the second time in as many years that Skalsi’s season ended in the Playoff due to orientation.
Fields missed just one play due to the hit, coming in to throw a 9-yard touchdown pass to catcher Chris Olave and give Ohio State a 28-14 lead. He engineered one more scoring drive before the half, hitting tight end Jeremy Ruckert for a 12-yard touchdown. He threw two touchdowns in the second half of 56 and 45 yards, respectively, completing 22 of 28 passes for 385 yards and six touchdowns to an interception. He also charged the ball eight times for 42 yards.
Despite his brilliance, Fields was clearly suffering as the game progressed; The ESPN broadcast showed him grimacing multiple times, not just on the field but on the bench as well.
MORE: Fields proves he has the heart and ribs of a champion
What is Justin Fields’ injury?
The state of Ohio has not officially commented on Fields’ injury. At the time it happened, Fields didn’t seem to know what it was either.
The Buckeyes quarterback raised a few eyebrows when commenting after the game on how Ohio State’s medical staff handled his injury on the sidelines:
“They really didn’t tell me anything,” Fields said (by Erick Smith of USA Today). “I took an injection or two and ran back. But most of my right is sore. That’s a mess. And a little bit, my hip. But they really didn’t give me a diagnosis at all.”
Ohio State coach Ryan Day on Jan. 4, without providing details, said Fields “felt better waking up in the morning than he expected” and that he “definitely” expected the quarterback to play Alabama.
Fields, who first made himself available to the media on Thursday, expanded on his opening comments and said he was comfortable with the way doctors treated him in the medical tent.
“Yeah, I think what I said after the game was taken out of context. I just want to make one thing clear, is that I have all my trust in the coaches here at Ohio State and in Dr. (James) Borchers.
I wasn’t, you know, I guess I was hesitant to accept whatever they gave me, but I was just trying to do everything I could to get back on the field. I think those guys handled it the way I would have wanted them to handle it.
I just totally trust those guys and I see how they deal with guys here, and I have personal relationships with all of them. I just don’t want anything I said in the post-game interview to be taken out of context and be like, ‘Oh, they just shot him and sent him back.
No. It was not like that. I think they did a full analysis, I guess, of my injury and what it was like, and they thought, they did what they thought was best. Yes, I was completely comfortable with it.
I’ll be good Monday night. “
Day on Sunday said Fields had a “good week of practice” and that he “did a very good job preparing” for Alabama.
Justin Fields injury updates
January 1st: Fields initially injured after attacking Skalski.
January 4: Day says he “definitely” hopes Fields will play Alabama
January 7th: Fields says the team’s doctors handled the injuries “the way I would have wanted them handled.”
January 10: Day says Fields had a good week of practice before the Alabama game.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.