‘It’s just good to get out there’ -- Ohio State football opens preseason practice

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WATCH: Ryan Day describes his 3 objectives for Ohio State football preseason practice

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

COLUMBUS -- On the first day of preseason practice, Ohio State football coach Ryan Day revealed his three top tenets of 2022 : Toughness, discipline and skill.

“Overall toughness in preseason,” Day said at the start of his fourth season at the helm. “And the reason we say that is because we have to keep each other upright — we’ve got to take care of each other, we got to work with each other, but at the same time, we’re going to build that callous and that edge. So that’s the first thing.

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“Discipline of just playing the game; penalties, discipline of your position, coming out every day and working hard, taking care of your body. And then skill — the skill of your position, the skill of playing the game.”

Ohio State is set to have 25 practices leading up to the season-opening game at home against Notre Dame on Sept. 3.

Here are five takeaways from Day’s first press conference of the season:

1. He’s happy with the team’s offseason overall.

“I really do think we had a great offseason, but it’s just good to get out there and see some of the younger guys see how some of the some of the guys who’ve been here two or three years where they are at after a really strong offseason — you know, their bodies and the way they’re moving around.”

Notably he said C.J. Hicks, a freshman linebacker from Alter who enrolled in January, already looks like a guy who has been around for a while.

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Ohio State DC Jim Knowles on freshman LB C.J. Hicks

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2. He has a better idea of what kind of team he has this year because they are coming off a full season of games.

Last year, the Buckeyes not only had a lot of new faces, but the young guys had fewer reps than usually might be the case because they only played eight games in 2020 and most of those were not blowouts that allowed for getting freshmen into the game.

“It’s a different team, absolutely. As we sat here last year, I was concerned,” Day said.

“So you know going in, ‘OK, we know we have some pretty talented players, but they’ve never played, and we have to start right out of the gate (against a Big Ten opponent), so that was that was concerning, but we grinded and worked through the preseason.

“This year it’s different because guys have played more so at least you have a better idea of we have. It doesn’t mean anything other than the fact that there’s more experience and you get a better feel for kind of the team you have.”

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3. He expects to get a better feel for the changes in the defense once the pads go on.

“We’ll get a better feel for that, but certainly the understanding of the defense, where guys are at, how quickly they’re fitting things the right way, how fast they’re reacting (and being where) they’re supposed to be,” Day said. “You can tell by their confidence — they’re anticipating as opposed to reacting, I think that’s important. But technique and fundamentals are still critically important, and that’s our base foundation for everything.”

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4. He anticipates times the offense will run something he wants the defense to be prepared for and vice versa, but his overall focus is more on simply developing good habits.

“(New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles) does a great job with (scheme, and I think over the years we’ve done a decent job of that, but it’s more about the fundamentals of just lining up and seeing who’s got better pad level, who’s got a better finish and who’s tougher. And I think that’s to me was where the competitiveness happens and that’s where you learn because I think scheme is very important but effort, pad level and toughness and those types of things are more important.”

5. A brief viewing window for the media at the start of the session confirmed the Buckeyes begin the season in relatively good health.

Josh Proctor and Lathan Ransom, a pair of safeties returning from broken legs, were both seen working with the safeties while Cody Simon was back with the linebackers after missing spring practice.

Josh Fryar, a third-year sophomore offensive lineman expected to add critical depth at tackle, was also back in action after missing the spring while senior Tyler Friday returned to the mix on the defensive line.

The notable exception Mitchell Melton, a third-year defensive end who suffered a serious knee injury in the spring game.

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