Ryan Day Loves Watching Joe Burrow, But That Could Change
There may come a time when Ryan Day is a lot less comfortable watching Joe Burrow than the Ohio State coach was on Saturday afternoon.
And if that time comes, rest assured Day won't be the only one around Columbus rethinking their admiration for the former Buckeye quarterback who transferred to LSU in the summer of 2018.
Burrow's 393 passing yards and three touchdowns in the No. 2 Tigers' 46-41 win Saturday at No. 3 Alabama undoubtedly captivated Day's attention after OSU's 73-14 win earlier that day.
Day spoke four days before of a desire to gather with his family following the Buckeyes' rise to 9-0 and watch Burrow, a player he's kept his eye on closely this season since a Week 2 LSU win at Texas.
Day admitted to watching that entire game and said, "I couldn't be any prouder of a guy than Joe. The way he competed, the way he threw. He's come a long way since his freshman year."
That's when Day got to know Burrow after leaving the San Francisco 49ers to come to OSU as Urban Meyer's quarterback coach.
Ohio State fans became captivated with Burrow long before that, throughout a storied career at The Plains High School in Athens, some 40 miles from Columbus and the home of Ohio University, where Burrow's father, Jim, was on Frank Solich's coaching staff.
Joe Burrow led his team to the Division III state championship game in 2014, and an epic game it was. He threw for six touchdowns and 446 yards, while also rushing for 69, yet came up short against Toledo Central Catholic in a wild, 56-52 final.
Burrow was spectacular on both offense and defense that night in Ohio Stadium, where most who watched thought it was only the first time he would star in the Horseshoe.
Instead, a freak injury in fall camp in 2017, when as a redshirt sophomore Burrow was established as the backup to J.T. Barrett, changed the course of two programs' and two players' histories.
Burrow broke a bone in his throwing hand two weeks before the season-opener when it hit the helmet of a defensive player. That injury sidelined him for more than a month, handing the backup job to Dwayne Haskins, who in the regular season finale at Michigan came off the bench for an injured Barrett to lead OSU to three consecutive scoring drives.
Burrow could have transferred after that season, but he stuck around in spring practice and genuinely believed he had won the starting job for 2018. Haskins, though, was equally impressive, making their battle a close call.
Given what Haskins had shown at Michigan, there was no decision to make other than to deem him the starter.
Burrow then transferred to LSU, won the job last fall and played well, but nothing like he has this year under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady in a pass-heavy attack that maximizes the Tigers' skill position talent.
It's very possible the win at Alabama will elevate LSU ahead of No. 1 OSU when the second set of College Football Playoff rankings are announced Tuesday night.
It is almost a certainty given how well Burrow played against Alabama that he will be hoisting the Heisman Trophy in December.
And it is a distinct possibility that he might get to play against OSU in the College Football Playoff, when Day would understandably have to temper his feelings for the former Ohio Mr. Football.
If so, Burrow would be matched against Justin Fields, who transferred to Ohio State from Georgia after last season, and is having the same sort of impact on the Buckeyes that Burrow is having on LSU.
Fields enters a 3:30 p.m. Saturday game at Rutgers off rushing for his 10th TD of the season and throwing three touchdown passes Saturday in the rout of Maryland.
Fields has thrown for 27 touchdowns and 1 interception, while completing 68.2% of his passes. He's also rushed for 347 yards.
Burrow has thrown for 33 touchdowns against four picks and a staggering 78.9% completion rate.
"I’ve enjoyed watching Joe on TV, but also even watching his film, seeing what they’re doing throwing the ball," Day said last week. "He’s doing a great job leading. You can tell he’s doing a great job preparing. He is going to finish the year the right way. You can tell they’re in a good place."
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