In his first game week press conference as the permanent head coach of the Buckeyes, Ryan Day announced senior Branden Bowen will start at right tackle Saturday when Ohio State plays host to Florida Atlantic.
Here are four other things reporters learned Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center when Day, a pair of assistant coaches and multiple players met with the media to preview the first game of the season:
1. More than five offensive linemen should see time with the first team.
Bowen won the starting job over Nicholas Petit-Frere, a highly-regarded redshirt freshman, but both of them are likely to play against the Owls.
“I think you’re going to see probably 7-8 guys playing in the game on Saturday,” Day said. “We’ll have our starting guys go out there, and I’ve said from the beginning, the guys who deserve to play in the game are going to have an opportunity to play. So we’ve got to make that decision going into the weekend and figure out, okay, does this guy deserve to play? Is he starting caliber? And if he is, they’re going to play. Every position is a little different, but I think we have pretty good depth there.”
While Thayer Munford is the incumbent left tackle, senior Josh Alabi had a strong enough camp to get some time against FAU.
Josh Myers of Miamisburg won the starting center job, but true freshman Jack Miller impressed with his ability to pick things up so he could also make his debut.
While the starting guards are projected to be Jonah Jackson and Wyatt Davis, Gavin Cupp was praised by Day, Bowen and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who coaches the tight ends and works with the offensive line as well.
2. Other depth chart news will probably have to wait until Friday.
Day has maintained much of the status quo from the Urban Meyer era, but he has made a few changes.
One of them is moving the weekly press conference back to Tuesdays, the day Jim Tressel kicked off game week when he was head coach of the Buckeyes from 2001-10. Meyer moved it to Monday during his tenure, which ended after the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Another new item: A weekly depth chart and injury report will be released on Friday mornings.
While the depth charts released on Tuesdays in the past were not necessarily indicative of who was actually going to start or play, that is expected to change this season.
The injury report will indicate players who are out and who are a game-time decision, something Ohio State has not formally done in recent memory.
3. As such, starting linebackers remain a mystery.
Co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley deferred to the Friday depth chart release when asked who will start at a position that was much-maligned last season and is under the direction of new linebackers coach Al Washington.
Malik Harrison, Tuf Borland and Pete Werner are all back after starting last season, but Barron Browning, Teradja Mitchell, Dallas Gant and K’Vaughn Pope have all been praised for their progress since the start of spring ball.
“I think coach Washington has done a really good job,” Hafley said. “I think he’s rotated a bunch of guys different guys in there. And he’s challenged them and they’ve competed with one another. And they’ve gotten better.”
4. The Ohio State staff has great respect for Owls coach Lane Kiffin.
Before ill-fated stints as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers and USC Trojans, Kiffin was considered an offensive guru.
He’s in his third season at Florida Atlantic, where the offense has been up and down so far and he’s on his third defensive coordinator.
“I think they bring really good coaching staff here,” Day said. “Coach Kiffin has coached at all levels in the NFL, SEC. He’s got a great background of football and understanding. And he’s going to bring a challenge to our defense. They do a lot of great things on offense — create mismatches, tempo. He’s kind of innovative in terms of what he’s doing over there. So we look for a challenge there.
“On defense they changed their scheme. They have a new defensive coordinator, Glenn Spencer, who came from Charlotte. He was at Oklahoma State before that. They bring a bunch of looks to the table, different coverages, different fronts. So not really having the opportunity to see those guys on film, we’ll have to be able to react during game, make adjustments.”