Coach Ryan Day made his scheduled appearance with reporters via Zoom on Friday. Quarterback Justin Fields also made an unscheduled appearance with the reports assembled.
Day reflected on the fine line that the coaching staff is having to walk regarding hitting in practice. Day commented that “The only way to get ready to play football is to play football,” but then added that injuries must be avoided, especially this year when players can be lost via positive test. Day commented that the entire roster has to be ready to play. This year is very different, so much so that the usual distinction that evolves for scout team players is not happening. Players that in the past were scout-teamers have to be getting ready to play as well since they could be called upon at any time to play if certain circumstances arise.
Day does not think that running back is a problem position. The staff feels that they have more depth there this year than they have had in previous seasons. Master Teague is the incumbent but they are very happy with what they see in Trey Sermon as well. He also mentioned Xavier Johnson, Steele Chambers and Marcus Crowley as players that have made a good showing.
Offensive lineman Dawand Jones is being looked at some at guard. They like his size and athleticism and feel like he can do some things to help this team.
Working with Justin Fields has been refreshing. His approach to the game is excellent and “he is really on it.” Fields asks excellent questions, takes notes, and is working diligently to get better.
At the quarterback position the number one priority is to get Justin Fields ready to play, but they are mindful of the need to develop backup talent too. C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller are getting the majority of the reps with the twos right now because they have to learn the offense. Gunnar Hoak will get more reps with the twos later on, but since he has already been in the offense a year they felt they should give the freshmen some extra reps since they are behind on the learning curve.
Day commented that the OSU coaching staff is going to great lengths to remain Covid-free, so much so that some coaches with small children at home are not sleeping at home just in case their children are exposed to the virus at school. It’s one of many sacrifices the coaching staff is making due to the virus.
The lack of spring practice and the odd fall camp schedule has put younger players behind where they might normally be at this time of year. As a result the Buckeyes will depend more heavily than usual on experienced players if for no other reason than they have a larger body of work and you know what to expect out of them when they get on the field, particularly in the early going this season. They will try to work in younger guys when they can, but early on they will be leaning heavily on experienced veterans.
The competition at safety between Josh Proctor and Marcus Hooker has been very good. Both players bring good skill sets to the table. Both are very active and it is not inconceivable that they could be on the field together at times this season.
OSU practiced in Ohio Stadium last Saturday and will do so again this Saturday. The empty stadium is, in fact, what the game-day environment will be this year, so they are trying to get as much practice time in that environment as possible.
Fields was asked if he was looking forward to getting hit to get back into football mode. Fields candidly responded “Not really”.
Fields feels that he is way ahead of where he was last year at this team. Last year the playbook was all new to him but now he is very comfortable with the playbook and now understands the nuances of why certain plays are called and what is expected when they are called.
Fields thinks the move of Garrett Wilson to the slot will be a very good one. Wilson will have plays both inside and outside from that position which will give him more opportunities to do what he does.
Fields said his injury last year was serious enough that he sometimes actually had problems walking when he was off the field. The injury really affected his play and he anxious to start playing again now that he is injury free.
When Wyatt Davis declared for the NFL draft Fields was in his ear to come back. He was calling him so much that “I think I was annoying a little bit.”
Fields switch to a vegan diet was inspired by his father. He said his father was a little overweight and challenged Fields to go on a 28-day vegan diet along with his step-mother and step-sister so there could be a family competition. When the 28 days were over he decided to continue with the diet because he felt so good and his body responded so well to it. His diet consists of no meat or dairy products, but does have some occasional fish. He said he has no meat cravings. He’s happy with Tofu salad and Tofu burritos.
Two players on the offense that have stood out this fall are Jamison Williams and Trey Sermon.
Fields believes that the Buckeyes have as much talent on their team as anyone in the country, but warns that talent can only take you so far. You still have to prepare and execute. If not, that talent doesn’t mean much.