Only so much can be gleaned from a spring game, especially one in which full tackling is not permitted.
Ohio State had its scrimmage Saturday and most of the attention centered on the quarterback competition to succeed Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Not much was resolved as the Gray team featuring offensive starters defeated the Scarlet team stocked with the first-team defense 35-17 in front of 61,102 fans at Ohio Stadium.
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Justin Fields, the five-star transfer from Georgia, started at quarterback for the Gray. He, like Matthew Baldwin, mixed in a few highlight plays along with plenty of others that showed his inexperience.
Fields didn’t complete a pass until the second quarter. He finished 4 of 13 for 131 yards. He also ran for 38 yards, with 30 coming on one run.
Baldwin took snaps for both the Gray and Scarlet. He finished 20 of 36 for 246 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Fields is considered to be the front-runner, but new coach Ryan Day was not ready to say if there was any separation between the two.|
“I don’t really know right now,” he said. “I’m going to keep looking at it. I know I keep saying that to you and everybody wants to know. I don’t think right now we’re going to make a decision on that. I think it’ll continue through the preseason.”
Most of Fields’ passing yardage came on a 98-yard touchdown pass to Binjimen Victor. The 6-foot-4 senior receiver took advantage of a 7-inch height advantage on walk-on cornerback Lloyd McFarquhar to catch the ball at the 40-yard line. He jogged the final 60 yards unthreatened.
“He’s a great athlete,” Fields said of Victor. “His wingspan is something crazy. You can usually throw it wherever, and he’s most likely going to come down with it.”
Other than that, Fields often struggled to connect with receivers.
“If I had to grade myself today, I would say a C-plus,” he said. “I know I can do better. I’ve done better at practice.”
Baldwin’s first touchdown pass was an 18-yarder to a familiar target, Garrett Wilson, who was his teammate at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas. He later threw an 8-yard touchdown to senior C.J. Saunders.
But he also threw two interceptions, one by Amir Riep and another by Jahsen Wint, who also intercepted Chris Chugunov. Baldwin, who redshirted last year as a freshman while rehabbing from knee surgery, was not available for interviews after the game.
As with most spring games, the veteran starters had limited playing time. This was an opportunity for young players to get acclimated to playing in the stadium, and for obscure players to get a moment in the sun.
Master Teague III, who’s expected to be J.K. Dobbins’ primary backup this year, ran for 75 yards in seven carries, including touchdown runs of 1 yard to open the scoring and 22 yards to end it.
“This is just the first step for the season,” Day said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. But we’ve got a good team, I think. We still have the offseason, the summer, the preseason. We’ll keep building from here, but there are a lot of good pieces and a lot of good leadership starting to form.
“The overall spring was excellent. The energy was really good. I thought the guys got tougher. It was a physical spring.”