What was shaping up to be one of the most interesting positional battles to watch at Ohio State spring practice is now one of the biggest question marks instead.
Talented freshmen quarterbacks CJ Stroud and Jack Miller both enrolled early to give themselves a full spring of experience as Buckeyes before the 2020 season.
Unfortunately, they only made it through winter workouts and three spring practices before the program – and the rest of the college football world – shut down.
Even in that limited opportunity, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said he was happy with what he saw.
“I was very impressed with how both of them came in and worked. Just their approach and the way they were able to take the offense to the field the first three practices,” Day said.
Stroud and Miller were expected to be battling redshirt senior Gunnar Hoak right now to earn the top backup spot behind Justin Fields.
Instead, they’re back home – Stroud in southern California, and Miller in Arizona. Both were given individualized workout programs to follow, as were the rest of the Buckeyes, but Day said the time away from the program could impact Miller and Stroud more than others.
“Of all the people, the receivers and those two quarterbacks are the ones that are gonna really miss spring practice the most,” he said.
In the era of social distancing, it’s not easy to go out and throw passes with a group of receivers. But Day said there are other things the freshmen are doing now to try to prepare for the fall.
“We’re going to have to do a great job of getting them the film and letting them study. There’s nothing like taking reps though,” he said. “They’ll do a great job and (QB coach) Corey (Dennis) will do a great job with them, putting the plan together, a throwing plan back home where they are.”
Miller and Stroud are doing everything they can right now to prepare for the fall. But the time away from the Woody Hayes Athletic Center is now going to make it tougher for either of the freshmen to beat out Hoak for the top backup position. The longer the layoff, the less likely it is.
“There’s nothing like taking snaps and so the sooner we can get them under center again, the better off we’re going to be,” Day said.