Ohio State announces resumption of football practice Tuesday

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra

Ohio State was able to return to practice Tuesday after a pause forced by COVID-19, a major step toward being able to play Saturday’s game at Michigan State.

“The Ohio State University football team will resume organized team activities this afternoon in preparation for its game Saturday against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich.,” the athletic department said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The Ohio State football team is returning to practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

That was the extent of the statement. Team spokesman Jerry Emig said the Buckeyes would practice, though he said had no information on the type of practice or the number of players who might be missing.

"We're resuming practice and preparing for the game," Emig said. "It is still day-by-day monitoring and evaluating, though."

Ohio State canceled its game last week against Illinois because of a COVID-19 outbreak starting midweek. The team paused all activities over the weekend before resuming virtual meetings and workouts in small groups on Monday.

Coach Ryan Day was the only member of the team identified as testing positive.

Concerns over further COVID-19 spread led Ohio State to cancel football game at Illinois

Citing privacy reasons, the university’s policy is not to release the number of people within the program who have tested positive for COVID.

Big Ten protocols dictate that Day must quarantine for 10 days, so defensive line coach/associate head coach Larry Johnson will serve as interim head coach until Day’s return next week.

While the announcement of Tuesday’s practice is encouraging, the situation remains tenuous. The Buckeyes’ schedule is dictated by the results of their daily COVID testing. It is possible that Ohio State could have to pause practice again.

On Saturday, Day said the Buckeyes could have as little as one full-scale practice and still play the Spartans.

“I think you could get it done by practicing Thursday, making sure you have a good hard practice Thursday, and then a walk-through on Friday and play on Saturday,” Day said. “But we'll just have to take it day by day and see how it goes.”

Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said it would be doable, but obviously not ideal, to have such a limited practice schedule. He said there are two key factors: the opponent and the maturity and experience of the team.

Meyer believes those elements work in the Buckeyes’ favor this week. Michigan State is coming off an upset of Northwestern but is only 2-3 under first-year coach Mel Tucker.

“Ohio State is much more talented than Michigan State,” Meyer said. “And you have a very mature team – an experienced quarterback (Justin Fields) and a bunch of really good players. So I agree with (Day). I think it's going to be very difficult, but we're in those times where you've got to do the best you can.”

Baylor coach Dave Aranda said having such limited practice time would force coaches to keep it simple. Coaches spend all week preparing to counter every expected move by an opponent. That chess game would have to be largely abandoned.

“They’re going to have to let all that go, which is hard for a lot of folks to do,” Aranda said. “I just think there's elements of, hey, we’re just running our stuff. We're just going to throw the ball around.

“And so much of football is not that way. For coaches to let that go, and to kind of play their base stuff and to kind of let it rip that way, I think will be hard.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch