Ohio State football coach Ryan Day kicked off the penultimate week of spring football with a look at the state of the team so far.
Here are five takeaways from his third press conference of the spring:
1. Josh Myers is coming along as expected.
A sophomore from Miamisburg, Myers has been penciled in as the new starting center since Michael Jordan announced his plan to enter the NFL draft.
So far, so good.
“I think he came in and picked up where he left off in the Rose Bowl practices,” Day said. "That was a big deal for him. For a lot of guys who haven’t played, the bowl practice is like another spring practice and he came along in that period of time.”
The coach was anxious to review film of Monday’s practice after Myers “played OK” in a Saturday scrimmage.
“This is where guys really make moves, middle of spring,” Day said. "We’ve seen the same play, seen the same defense and now guys really get an edge on each other. So interested to see how this week goes for him, but he’s done a good job as he’s been in there so far. I think as we evaluate the rest of spring we’ll have a better idea of where he stands.”
2. Justin Fields is progressing, but Day is still not close to naming a starting quarterback.
The transfer from Georgia went through a rite of passage last week with the removal of the black stripe from his helmet.
That is symbolic of his becoming a full-fledged member of the team, something all incoming freshmen go through.
“(He) came out with a good attitude in terms of understanding what it takes to be a quarterback preparation-wise early on,” Day said. “He’s picked (the offense) up pretty quickly, so the fact he’s able to run the offense right now without a lot of reps under his belt is pretty significant and he can make a few plays with his arm and his feet.”
Fields has been considered the favorite to be the starter since a waiver for immediate eligibility was granted, but Day said the evaluation of the battle between him and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin has really only just begun.
3. Half of the revamped defense is more different than the other.
With co-coordinators Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley redoing the “Silver Bullets” after a down year, many are interested in just what will change.
“I think the installation of the defense has been solid,” he said. “I think we’re about where we thought we would be there. Still working on fundamentals, still working on the calls and communicating on defense.”
Day said the run defense is mostly the same, but the looks from the secondary are more varied.
“You notice some of the linebackers showing up in some of the windows that are different.”
4. What about the offense?
Day is broadening his horizons since being promoted to head coach Jan. 2, but the offense is still his baby.
(He still plans to call plays this fall.)
So far, he has seen a unit that is more explosive than consistent, which is not too surprising with the top three receivers gone, a new quarterback in place and an all-new offensive line practicing this spring.
“Overall it’s been good, but we’re still looking for leaders,” Day said. “Veterans have to play veteran. These guys weren’t starters, but a lot of these guys have played.”
“One of the things when you put an offense together, how good are your good players?” he said, likening it to watching teams that excel in the NCAA basketball tournament. “If your great players play great you’re probably going to win. It’s the same way in football. I thought at times last year our great players were great. Now who is going to take that next step as we go through the spring and into the preseason?
5. He is also looking forward to seeing how the tight ends fit into the picture.
Coaches change, but the question remains the same: Is this the year tight ends become a larger part of the offense?
Day echoed offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson’s suggestion that could be the case.
‘There is a place for that for sure,” Day said. “What happens is you end up not only competing by your position but by personnel groupings. If the second tight end is better than the third receiver, then we’re going to see two tight ends in the game. We’re working on some of that this spring and some of it has looked pretty good.”
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