Looking to leave a disappointing shortened spring 2021 season in the rearview mirror, Stony Brook’s football team will need a bounceback season from graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields in his last year of eligibility.
After redshirting as a freshman in 2016 and attempting 36 combined passes between 2017 and 2018 as a backup to former three-year starter Joe Carbone, Fields was named the starting quarterback nine days before the 2019 season opener following a preseason competition with junior Jack Cassidy for the starting job.
“It feels great. I’ve been waiting for this moment for years now,” Fields said after the promotion. “I’m just taking all of this in and enjoying the moment. I’ll work hard for this team and lead this team to a championship.”
Early on, Fields and the Seawolves seemed on their way to a third straight postseason with a 4-1 start to the 2019 season. Fields had a signature moment in the final game of that stretch, when Stony Brook trailed Rhode Island by a field goal with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter. On 4th and 6 from the 50-yard line, Fields dropped back, stepped up and took off running all the way to the end zone for the game-winning score.
The following week against James Madison, Fields threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns, but the Seawolves took an overtime loss despite scoring 38 points. After a disappointing performance against New Hampshire, Fields threw for 320 yards and scored three total touchdowns in a come-from-behind win against Villanova.
Eight games in, the Seawolves stood at a respectable 5-3 but lost their last four games, averaging only 15 points per game in that stretch.
Despite that lack of production at the end of the season, Fields recorded a program-high 2,809 yards of total offense and threw for 2,471 yards, the second most in a single season in Stony Brook’s history.
Following the historic season, expectations for Fields and Stony Brook’s offense were high heading into the 2020 season.
The Seawolves struggled on both sides of the ball at times in the spring, but the offense’s performance was especially poor compared to the 2019 season.
Stony Brook averaged 24.33 points per game in 2019 compared to only 14 points per game in the team’s four games this spring. Similarly, the Seawolves recorded about 128 less total yards per game this spring compared to the 2019 season.
Fields experienced a similar statistical drop-off in the spring, contributing largely to the offense’s troubles. This spring, he threw only two touchdowns and averaged 105 less passing yards and nine less rushing yards per game than he recorded in 2019.
Not only was the spring season played under unprecedented circumstances, but Fields and his receivers dealt with several injuries. Fields sustained an injury early in the second game of the season, causing him to miss the second half of that game and the entire next week of practice. He also played through a knee injury in the final game of the season against Albany — Stony Brook’s only win in the spring.
According to head coach Chuck Priore, five of Stony Brook’s top six wide receivers did not practice prior to the spring season due to injuries. Some of them struggled to stay healthy during the season like Hunter Hayek, a graduate transfer student from Rutgers who did not play a single snap in the spring. Others, like Khalil Newton, a redshirt senior wide receiver from Ball State, and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr., who attended Archbishop Stepinac High School with Fields, also had a tough time staying on the field in the spring.
Priore thinks that coming into this season with a healthy group of receivers will be key to Stony Brook’s success.
“The supporting cast is representative of a CAA supporting cast,” Priore said on Monday. “The quarterback is only as good as what you surround him with. With that being said, I just got off the field three minutes ago, and I think [Fields] had the best practice of his career in our last team period.”
Along with getting his weapons healthy, Fields wanted to improve his drop back and accuracy this offseason. While he’s proven effective as a passer, he sports a lowly 51% career completion percentage. Priore believes Fields’ offseason work has him poised to take a big leap in the passing game.
“He’s throwing the long ball successfully,” he said. “He’s improved his drop back game. He’s moving the ball around to secondary receivers, not staring people down. So overall, we’re excited about his development.”
Fields has proven that he has the talent to take Stony Brook to the promised land, but his experience and leadership make him especially dangerous. As Fields enters his sixth year at Stony Brook and his third season as starting quarterback, his head coach says he’s gotten better at seeing the bigger picture and understanding what’s really important.
“It used to be about having to throw a touchdown pass or being the star,” Priore said. “Now it’s about making the team play better together and playing within himself. Every quarterback wants to throw the touchdown pass, but the area he’s grown the most, in my opinion, this August is playing within himself. And if he plays within himself, he’s a very good quarterback.”
Starting the season with a healthy supporting cast, including the exact same offensive line from the spring season and a productive running back in redshirt junior Ty Son Lawton, it will be Fields’ responsibility to get the offense to play as a unit.
Despite what transpired in the spring, Fields is more than capable of leading Stony Brook to success and ending his career on a high note, which can be seen by his numbers. With the way this summer has unfolded for the Seawolves, all signs are pointing to him doing just that.