Ohio State opened fall camp one week ago today. Their first scrimmage is tomorrow.
Scrimmages are where players are given an opportunity to show what they can do in a semi-realistic simulation of an actual game. Coaches learn a lot from scrimmages, which is why Ryan Day said they’d start evaluating the quarterbacks a lot more seriously after the second scrimmage.
Data is still coming in even without a scrimmage to comb through, however.
Coaches have learned plenty about their team and they know more than they did a week ago.
And even though the media has only been permitted to watch about an hour of actual practice of the seven that have taken place, there are still things I have learned as well.
Sure, most of what I have learned comes from what coaches and players have said, but it still counts.
Let’s hash it out.
1. This is a talkative group of offensive linemen, and that’s a good thing.
This may not seem like a relevant talking point to you, but trust me, there could possibly be merit here. This Ohio State offensive line is a very confident and easy going group of guys. Not easy going in that they don’t care about the task ahead, but easy going in that they know they have their bases covered, so they are a looser group. Past OSU offensive lines have been like this. Probably the best ones — remember the years of the Slobs? Last year’s group, however, wasn’t. Most times it seemed like they were just saying what they felt they were supposed to say. After talking to Josh Myers, Jonah Jackson, Thayer Munford, Wyatt Davis, Branden Bowen, Josh Alabi, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Gavin Cupp, there is nothing rehearsed. They all communicate very confidently and without the residue of doubt in their answers, which could be a sign of how well they operate together as well.
2. The freshmen receivers are ahead of the curve.
On one of the signing days this past winter, head coach Ryan Day was high on freshman receiver Jameson Williams, but cautious. “We think he’s going to be a really good player,” he said. “Maybe take a year to develop. But who knows, he may come in and make an impact right away.” Six practices later and Williams had his black stripe removed. Williams’ classmate — Garrett Wilson — showed everyone in the spring that he was well ahead of the curve, but even he needed 12 practices before he lost his black stripe. They still have to be able to help block and make the necessary development to be reliable players, but there appears to be less and less reason that both receivers can’t have a role this season.
3. This is a fast, deep group of defensive linemen.
Larry Johnson said this week that every defensive lineman on the roster ran a 5.0 40-yard dash or better this offseason, including fifth-year senior nose tackle Davon Hamilton, who checks in a few bags of groceries over 300 pounds. Fifth-year senior tackle Jashon Cornell — who has been playing with the ones at three tech — ran a 4.65 at over 280 pounds according to Johnson. We don’t need to get into 6-foot-6, 255-pound freshman defensive end Zach Harrison and his sub-4.5 speed because it just sounds beyond reality. Like the Bosas, Chase Young has never been considered a stopwatch guy, but if you time him getting around a tackle, he’ll come in plenty fast. In terms of depth, Johnson said they are three deep at each interior spot, with a floater in Antwuan Jackson who can play either spot. The defensive ends are young, but the potential is there to be very good by the time November gets here. (And they’re fast too.)
4. The backup running back job is still wide open.
This was one of Ryan Day’s earliest laments in camp. Asked about devising plays and packages for Demario McCall, Day said that before any of that happens, McCall needs to win the backup running back job. JK Dobbins can’t do it all and his backup needs to be able to do more than just run. Blitz pickup will be key, as will ball security and toughness. One week of camp is too small of a data sample to figure out if somebody can do what the Buckeyes need that guy to do. If all goes well, they’ll have more than one backup and can play guys freely.
5. The safeties might be pretty good.
Earlier in the week, Ryan Day mentioned that the Buckeyes had four interceptions in a practice. Two of them came from sophomore Josh Proctor. Proctor’s name comes up a lot when it comes to making plays in practice. Some of that, however, might be because he has been doing much of his playmaking with the threes. It appears he is still behind Jordan Fuller and Isaiah Pryor at free safety. Even if he can surpass Pryor — assuming they are in fact playing the same position — he will not be jumping ahead of Fuller. Can he be a dime safety for the Buckeyes this year? Or maybe he’ll make his mark when somebody is hit with an injury. Shaun Wade and Amir Riep seem fine at strong safety, though we have not talked to secondary coach Jeff Hafley yet. Redshirt freshman Marcus Hooker is finally healthy, so maybe he can make some noise in camp as well. And then you still have Brendon White likely dropping back on passing downs. There’s a lot to like. Everybody is a year older than last year and they have the scars to prove it.