COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day spoke with reporters following the Buckeyes’ first spring practice Wednesday morning. He provided some personnel updates and talked about the first day of practice. Here are the highlights of what was said.
+ The offensive line doesn’t bring back a lot of starting experience, but there are guys who have played. Wyatt Davis playing last year was huge. Branden Bowen coming back is big.
+ Jonah Jackson will provide depth when he gets here. Branden Bowen is ready to play now and has had a good offseason. His leadership is also important. “We’re going to need him to step up.”
+ Josh Myers was ready to play center down the stretch and move Michael Jordan to left guard if necessary last year. This is a big opportunity for him right now. He will still have to compete for the job.
+ “We have to find out who the guys are that we can count on.”
+ Today is mostly just installing things. No pads.
+ “It’s gonna be a battle” at quarterback. This is a progression to starting. They will split the reps at quarterback evenly. It was a good start today. The guys are still learning the offense. Justin Fields is a quick learner and a sharp guy. He has done a good job in the meetings.
+ The defense was really swarming to the ball today. Good energy. They are very serious and they have a chip on their shoulder, which is great.
+ Brendon White can do a bunch of different things. They assess what they have on defense and they will then fit those skills to a scheme that works.
+ Day doesn’t have a preference on knowing who the starting quarterback is by the end of spring. That doesn’t need to happen. “You just don’t know how it’s going to play out.” It doesn’t do any good to think ahead because anything can happen and it is a long journey.
+ Day thought the QBs threw well today. They sailed some, but day one is always a bit off with timing. As the practice went on, things got better. “For day one, I was pretty encouraged.”
+ The infrastructure and the culture here is what it is. It is time tested and he believes in it. But along the way there will be changes here and there and those changes will add up, but he’s not going to change things just to change things and say, “This is mine.”
+ It was a major deal to change the defense, so when you look at Day’s footprint on this program, that is one area to start.
+ The defensive change was brought about because Day sees a lot of speed on this team and he wanted more of it on the field. It also gives them the ability to attack, but he also wants to keep things simple for the players. The more speed on the field, the more you force an offense to take the underneath stuff and their drives become tougher to sustain.
+ This group of players has a good purpose, good energy, and today was a good start. But they are still looking for leadership.
+ Day is going by feel and trusting his got on where he needs to be as a head coach now. He will continue to be with the special teams, but will jump in with the quarterbacks in meetings and practice. He’ll trust the defense to do their jobs. Being on special teams allows himself to see the defensive players.
+ Day’s inclination is to call plays this season, but “will let the guys do it this spring.” He’ll see how he does this year and go from there.
+ Zach Harrison has had a really good offseason. Garrett Wilson catches your eye because he is so smooth. Marcus Crowley has a real chance. Ryan Jacoby has done a nice job. It’s a good group, but we’ll see how it goes with pads.
+ Leadership is the No. 1 thing he is looking for from his quarterback. Taking care of the ball and having the ability to move the ball down the field is big too. Having the ability to beat you enough with your feet is big. Picking up third downs is big. It’s about moving the ball down the field and leading your team.
+ “I thought all of the quarterbacks did well.” It’s hard to lead when you’re doing something for the first time, which all of the quarterbacks are in the first practice. “None of those guys really have a great body of work yet.” That should begin to change halfway through camp.
+ Quarterbacks could be under center at times this year. They are always trying to be on the cutting edge of offense and they will do some of that this spring.
+ The 2,000-rep club remains. “You’re not going to win any games in the spring.” There is so much invested in the players that they have to make sure they get the players to the fall.
+ JK Dobbins “is THE back now.” Dobbins was looking for home runs last year because he was trying to make the most of his carries while splitting carries. His carries will go up this year and they need to find somebody behind him who can help him. They don’t need to know anything more about Dobbins than they already do. They won’t be running the heck out of him this spring.
+ Jordan Fuller won’t be practicing. It’s a lower extremity issue. Thayer Munford is going through a back issue. Demario McCall, Taron Vincent, and Jerron Cage have some nagging injuries who should be good to go when they get back from spring break.
+ Day had no updates on scholarship numbers.
+ He is looking for Baron Browning to step up and have a great spring. They are trying to figure out where he best fits in this scheme. He’s very, very talented. “Hopefully we can get this to click this spring and he can go and win a job.”
+ He doesn’t know exactly what his linebackers will look like this season. They have depth and versatility. They can match personnel, “but first we’ve got to find out who can do it.”