Every year following Ohio State spring football we recap what happened position by position.
Who stepped up, who stepped back, what got fixed, and what didn’t?
With 12 of the 15 spring practices cancelled due to the pandemic, however, essentially nothing happened, nothing got fixed, nobody stepped up, and no questions got answered.
So since we can’t talk about which questions got answered, we will instead discuss which questions still remain.
Position by position.
Up first, the Buckeye quarterbacks.
How will Justin Fields handle the offensive additions?
Head coach Ryan Day said last week that he was disappointed that they weren’t able to add to both the offensive and defensive schemes. They only had three practices and those three were fairly basic, so there wasn’t much of anything new added or implemented.
By every single measure, Justin Fields was fantastic last season. He threw for 3,273 yards with 41 touchdowns and just three interceptions, leading the Big Ten in passing efficiency. He also rushed for 484 yards and another 10 touchdowns.
Late in the season, he also showed his toughness and intangibles by dealing with a knee injury, repeatedly pulling himself up off the turf. He played well enough for the Buckeyes to win every game last season, though they obviously fell short in the playoffs against Clemson.
While last year’s performance and playbook would likely be very successful this season, Day and his staff are always looking to enhance both sides of the ball. They didn’t get a chance to try that this spring, nor did they get an opportunity to see how Fields reacted to those enhancements.
That will all have to wait until the next time the Buckeyes open camp. Day’s hope is that Fields will be able to take the new playbook to the field, which is something he has already excelled at as a Buckeye.
How much further along is Gunnar Hoak?
Gunnar Hoak arrived after spring ball last year, but has now gone through a full season, a winter, and three spring practices. In getting to see him throw once this spring, he was impressive down the field in one-on-ones, but there were no real pressure situations this spring.
Quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis has no question about how smart Hoak is and how well he understands the offense. The papers tests continue and reveal precisely how much Hoak knows. He did a solid job picking up the playbook as quickly as he could last year, but it would have been nice to see him assert himself as a leader and a legitimate quarterback option for the Buckeyes this spring.
There is no substitute for reps, but they will have to find the next closest thing this summer.
Which freshman would jump out?
The battle between freshman quarterbacks Jack Miller and CJ Stroud was one of the more anticipated storylines heading into the spring.
Every movement and pass was going to be scrutinized and tallied to determine which one of them would ascend to the throne first.
Too much would have been made from each practice, and each rep, but not for the coaches. Sure, they would have charted everything, but it all would have been calculated properly. A spring game wouldn’t have counted more than the 11th practice of the year.
Day and Dennis had three practices to get an idea of where Miller and Stroud stand, but they never really got to see them throwing against a defense at full throttle. That will have to wait until the next time the Buckeyes take the field, which is as unfortunate for the quarterbacks as it is for their coaches.