Questions remain as Ohio State football begins third week of preseason practice

COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Ryan Day hoped his team’s first preseason scrimmage would answer many of its questions.

Monday, he indicated it did not, but he still viewed the 115-120-play affair in a positive light.

“There was not much that I learned,” Day said. “I thought some guys really stepped up. I thought there was a physicality in that scrimmage that was great for the first opportunity to tackle. I thought we tackled well on defense. It was a couple of missed tackles, but it was it was good to get guys on the ground.”

About 10 players on offense graded out over 80% while about a dozen did on defense, though Day did not identify them.

“You want to get guys in a rhythm of understanding that if you grade out 80% or higher, you’re a champion,” Day said. “And that’s the goal for the position coaches and the units for guys to grade out a champion. So we recognized those, but overall, I thought it was solid. I thought it was consistent with what we see the practice.”

Here are six takeaways from Day’s Monday press conference:

1. He is still looking for more consistency from the quarterbacks.

Kyle McCord and Devin Brown remain locked in a battle to become the starter despite Day wanting to be able to make a choice sooner than later at this point.

“You’d like a sizable gap to name a starter for sure,” Day said. “It’s hard to name somebody when they there isn’t a significant gap, so looking for someone to emerge. There’s been good things. There’s been things that they want back, and I appreciate the competitiveness right now. They’re going at it every day. We’re not ready to name started right now, and so the competition will continue this week.”

2. He is still not ruling out using both in the season-opener at Indiana.

“I think that’s something we have to decide this week probably,” Day said. “Are we ready to name somebody by the end of the week or does the competition continuing into the season? That’s not ideal, but if that’s where we’re at, then that’s what we’ll do.”

No other new starters were named, either, but Day said there are “leaders in the clubhouse at certain positions.”

3. They might be getting closer to setting the offensive line.

Jimmy Simmons, a transfer from San Diego State, and Tegra Tshabola, a redshirt freshman from Lakota West High School, are working at left tackle while Josh Fryar, Luke Montgomery and Zen Michalski are competing on the right side.

That represents a flip of side for Simmons, Tshabola, Fryar and Montgomery, who all began the preseason on the opposite side.

“We’ve kind of settled into that the last few practices, and we felt like if we were going to make that move, we had to make it early on in the preseason,” Day said. “And I think it’s going to be the best for the long term, but we’ll continue to evaluate it.”

Day said there was no decision made at center, either. Carson Hinzman, Victor Cutler Jr. and Jakob James are competing there, though it seems to be down to Hinzman or Cutler.

4. Tight end produced some good news and bad.

Cade Stover gives Ohio State a strong returning starter at the position, but they would like to find reliable second and third options to maximize their offensive package.

While senior Joe Royer has been limited by an injury, classmate Gee Scott Jr. is having a productive preseason.

The coaches also like the potential of freshman Jelani Thurman, but Day indicated he still has a lot of development to do.

One of the younger players at the position who will not be able to push the veterans for the No. 2 spot is Bennett Christian, a second-year player from Georgia who is out for the season after testing positive for a banned substance he said came from a supplement.

“This could have been so easily avoided had I reached out to our training staff about the supplement and confirmed it was within policy,” Bennett said in a statement provided by the university. “That will forever be a lesson learned and something all athletes should be aware of going forward.

“My goal this year is to be the absolute best teammate I can be, and to continue to support this program for which I am so grateful to be a part. I look forward to returning in 2024.”

5. Day wasn’t too interested in finding out Ohio State is No. 3 in the preseason poll from the Associated Press.

Two-time defending national champion Georgia is No. 1 after getting 60 of 63 first-place votes while Michigan is No. 2, its highest preseason ranking since 1991 when the Wolverines were also No. 2.

Michigan got two first-place votes while the other went to the Buckeyes.

“I don’t really start looking at those things until we get to November,” said Day, who was at the microphone when the poll was published. “It does matter as you get to November for sure, but none of that stuff’s gonna matter if we don’t win early on. We have goals this year, and the first goal is to beat Indiana. And so we’re gonna first check that box off and go from there.”

6. The team suffered it second long-term injury.

Day announced Kourt Williams, a former four-star safety recruit who moved to linebacker in the offseason, is out for the year with a torn knee ligament, the third serious injury of his four years in Columbus.

He also missed what would have been his true freshman season with a knee injury and battled shoulder problems that ultimately required surgery last season.

Ohio State previously lost redshirt freshman Omari Abor to an undisclosed injury that is expected to keep him out for several months.

Running back Miyan Williams and defensive tackle Tyleik Williams both missed Ohio State’s practice that was open to the media last Friday, but Day said they should be back soon.

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