Ryan Day still hasn’t named Justin Fields the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes this season.
You would think one day would be enough, right?
The Buckeyes opened camp on Friday for their first practice of the fall, and when they did, there were three quarterbacks getting the bulk of the reps.
Along with Fields, fifth-year senior Chris Chugunov and fourth-year junior Kentucky transfer Gunnar Hoak were splitting the reps on Friday, trying to get as much work done as three guys can in four weeks of work.
Day’s assessment after the first practice wasn’t unexpected.
“We just got off the field from day one,” he said. “It hasn’t really changed since a couple weeks ago. We talked about it. Guys are going to get reps, roll guys early on. Based on how they play, we’ll create a little bit of a depth chart and go from there.”
The quarterbacks all displayed a better understanding of the offense from this spring, with Day remarking that it “couldn’t be any worse” based on just how new guys like Fields and Hoak are right now.
Friday was also Day’s first opportunity to watch Hoak practice in person, and he liked what he saw.
“I was impressed. I was impressed,” he said. “I thought it’s hard to know until you’re really out there as a quarterback, until you play. It was just in helmets today. In a short period of time, I think he kind of picked up the offense pretty quick. I think he can diagnose and see the field, kind of has a good feel for it. That was a positive.
“I thought he kind of moved the ball around pretty good today, made good decisions. Once he gets more reps under his belt, I think he’ll get more and more comfortable, play with more confidence.”
With only a month before the first game, some would expect Day to simply go with Fields as the starter and give him the bulk of the reps in order to get him ready.
But while he may or may not be getting the bulk of the reps with the first team, Day and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich can’t just rely on one quarterback. Buckeye fans more than any others should understand why.
“No, no, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Day said. “Once you practice, anything could come up. A guy could step off the curb tomorrow. You don’t know. You have to get as many guys ready to roll as you can. We want to get three quarterbacks ready to be able to play in a game because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Crazy things happen.
“You like to think everyone is going to stay healthy. The reality of it is, you look at the numbers around the country, that doesn’t happen. So you have to get people ready. As it goes, guys start to step up, declare themselves in certain positions, then we’ll go from there. Typically the first couple weeks are competing, learning the offense, maximize yourself. The chemistry starts to build as you get into the third week.”
Right now there is simply too much work to do to worry about something that almost always takes care of itself.
It’s like emptying a bath tub using a bucket when the drain will eventually do the job.
The Buckeyes will practice, the quarterbacks will throw, they will meet, they will take tests, and all of this will be evaluated in a timely manner.
“After the first week, we’ll kind of come up for air, after the first scrimmage, see where are we,” Day said. “Is there that much of a gap right now? After the second week, there will be another scrimmage. At that point we’ll kind of get an idea where the gap is. If it’s not a big gap, then we’ll just keep it going. The minute it separates, then that’s when you go ahead and name it.
“Naming a starter right now, naming a starter in a week, doesn’t give you anything really. We want to make sure that guys are competing, we’re getting everybody developed so we have three quarterbacks ready to roll if we have to play all three.”