Day doesn't tip hand on quarterbacks
When Ohio State coach Ryan Day met with reporters Monday, he hinted at a possible revealing juncture in the offseason quarterback competition.
Day said he planned to quantify the completion percentages for Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin through a majority of spring practices, a step that could affirm either as a favorite in his eyes.
Four days later, Day was asked what he found.
It wasn’t much.
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The results didn’t shake up the pecking order between Fields and Baldwin entering the final week of spring practice as the passers vie to replace record-setting Dwayne Haskins.
“The completion percentage is pretty close right now with those guys,” Day said. “We’ve played a little bit more zone coverage so the completion percentage is kind of on par with what Dwayne was last spring. We want to keep working on that the last week here. I think we should be a little higher than we were last spring just because of the style of defense we were going against.”
Day did not provide their tallies.
Since spring practice began in early March, Day has offered few hints publicly for where Fields and Baldwin stand in the race.
Fields, a heralded recruit who arrived as a transfer from Georgia during the winter, is perceived as the favorite among fans and outside observers. Baldwin, though, was recruited by Day, previously the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
During Friday’s padded practice, which was open to reporters, Fields, who is a sophomore, directed the first-team offense for a majority of the workout. Baldwin, a redshirt freshman, primarily saw second-team reps.
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Both passers put together their share of highlights with few obvious issues.
In the final 11-on-11 period, Fields connected with walk-on receiver Garyn Prater for a long touchdown play along the sideline at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The pass sailed about 40 yards. He earlier found receiver K.J. Hill in the corner of the end zone, zipping the pass on time.
Baldwin also dropped a nice throw to Prater by the sideline.
When asked this week how he planned to evaluate the quarterbacks, Day zeroed in on their decision-making.
“You’re looking at accuracy, the ability to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball on time,” Day said. “Understanding the offense. Managing the game. Making good decisions in the run game. And trying to figure out who you are as a quarterback because everyone is built a little different and their skill sets are different. And do you use those skill sets to your advantage?
“What I mean by that, if you can run and you’re really athletic, do you make good decisions reading an end? If you’re in the pocket, can you find your checkdowns? At the end of the day, can you lead 10 men on the field and move the ball into the end zone? That’s the goal.”
When Fields ran with the first-team offense, the unit was without right guard Wyatt Davis, who was out because of an illness. Branden Bowen took Davis' place.
Day applauded the team’s spiritedness during the workouts.
At times, it flirted with chippiness with a pair of scuffles, including one midway through the workout when cornerback Damon Arnette punched receiver Jaylen Harris.
The incidents didn’t bother Day.
“I like the fact they’re going after it,” Day said. “If you don’t have any kind of scuffles, then maybe you don’t have the right team. If you have too many, it starts to get reckless. But if you have one or two every now and then, it’s good.”