Ohio State’s defense is ahead of its offense, coach Urban Meyer said Monday after the Buckeyes’ ninth practice of spring football.

On one hand, that’s to be expected, he said. Offenses are usually slower to get in sync than defenses until the season starts, especially with so many new and missing pieces.

The Buckeyes had an intrasquad scrimmage Friday. While the defense had too many players who graded as champion for Meyer to list, the Buckeyes coach had trouble coming up with offensive standouts.

“Overall, not a good day for the offense,” he said. “On defense they had a bundle of them. I don’t have the list in front of me. But the defense played very well.”

At quarterback, the battle among Dwayne Haskins Jr., Joe Burrow and Tate Martell remains where it has been – a muddle.

"You wish one of them would take it, but that has not happened,” Meyer said.

He said Burrow had the best scrimmage of the three but that Martell had a good practice Monday and that Haskins also “came back.”

He said part of the reason for the offense’s issues is that Meyer is resting many of his experienced receivers.

“I’m not making excuses for the quarterbacks, but I’m protecting some of the older receivers and it looks awful when you start pulling guys out,” Meyer said. “It’s an alarm for down the road. They have to get much better. But the receivers were better today.”

At linebacker, the Buckeyes are mixing and matching with Tuf Borland out with an Achilles' tendon injury. Meyer said he anticipates Borland returning in September.

For now at least, Malik Harrison is seeing time at weak-side linebacker and Keandre Jones at strong-side. He said middle linebacker Baron Browning graded as a champion in the scrimmage, as did Pete Werner. He said Justin Hilliard played close to champion level.

When pressed about offensive players who’ve made a jump this spring, Meyer mentioned offensive lineman Malcolm Pridgeon and tight end Luke Farrell and again praised redshirt freshman tackle Thayer Munford.

“He's going to be a very good player here,” Meyer said. “He's been very consistent.”

The Buckeyes practice Wednesday and Friday this week. The spring game is April 14.

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