“This week right here is just all against each other,” Day said. “We’ll go scrimmage on Saturday and the whole idea is that after this week we felt like we could check off some boxes (that) we got better fundamentally.”
Toughness has been a buzzword of the offseason after the Buckeyes were pushed around by Oregon and Michigan last season, and Day said they hope to develop it through simply blocking and tackling each other this month.
“As we come into next week, we’ll go into the next phase and then over the next two weeks you start to introduce (Notre Dame game planning), but right now it’s just against each other and heavy on fundamentals.”
Here are more takeaways from Day’s press conference and practice Thursday, all of which was open to the media:
1. Cornerback depth an issue
When the Buckeyes put together the full defense toward the end of practice, they needed to go to multiple walk-ons to fill out the second and third teams at times. Senior Cam Brown and Denzel Burke came out first with Jyaire Brown and Lloyd McFarquhar following them. Brown is a scholarship freshman from Lakota West while McFarquhar is a senior walk-on from Cleveland.
Walk-ons Cameron Kittle, Andrew Moore, Colin Kaufmann also saw action during that period.
JK Johnson, a scholarship redshirt freshman, was part of an earlier seven-on-seven period Cam Brown did not take part in.
After practice, Day said the hope is none of the injuries at the position are long-term.
2. No surprises on defensive depth chart
One day of practice might not offer a full view of the situation at any position, but the look reporters were provided mostly aligned with expectations heading into preseason.
When the last full team period began, Zach Harrison and Jack Sawyer were the defensive ends on the first team while J.T. Tuimoloau and Javontae Jean-Baptiste were behind them. Taron Vincent and Jarron Cage took the field first at defensive tackle followed by Ty Hamilton and Tyliek Williams with Mike Hall also getting some time. Expect heavy rotation at all four spots.
The top linebackers were Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers followed by Chip Trayanum and Teradja Mitchell then Cody Simon and Palaie Gaoteote.
In the secondary, the aforementioned cornerbacks were joined by a top group consisting of Josh Proctor and Ronnie Hickman (backed up by Kourt Williams and Lathan Ransom, respectively) at safety and nickel Tanner McCalister (Cam Martinez).
3. More receivers to see the field
Prior to last season, coach Brian Hartline liked to rotate as many as six receivers regularly, a practice Day indicated will return this fall after Hartline gave the lion’s share of reps to veterans Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson (along with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who is back this season) in 2021.
The open practice allowed reporters to see junior Julian Fleming, sophomores Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jayden Ballard and senior walk-on Xavier Johnson vie for playing time .
Kamryn Babb, a senior who is looking to break through after years of fighting injuries, was limited by what Day described as “a little tweak” that should not keep him down long.
4. The Buckeyes are still looking for a third offensive tackle
Josh Fryar and Zen Michalski appear to be the top contenders to be the first off the bench if something happens to Paris Johnson Jr. or Dawand Jones.
“Those guys are both working every day, and that’s the goal for both those,” Day said. “Hopefully it can be both. That’s why we’re practicing.”