Ryan Day impressed by effort from Ohio State reconfigured offensive line

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ohio State’s offensive line was challenged in a 52-12 win at Michigan State on Saturday afternoon.

Three of its starting linemen were among the 23 players who were out against the Spartans for injury or coronavirus-related reasons.

Their absences prompted Dawand Jones, Matthew Jones and Max Wray to all make their first career starts as part of a significantly reconfigured group.

Dawand Jones stepped in at left tackle for Thayer Munford, while Max Wray came in at right tackle for Nicholas Petit-Frere. Matthew Jones was at left guard, filling in for Harry Miller who slid over to center to replace Josh Myers.

Backup offensive linemen Enokk Vimahi (66) and Dawand Jones (79) help quarterback Justin Fields celebrate a 25-yard run by Trey Sermon (8) in the second quarter.

After all the shuffling, right guard Wyatt Davis was left as the only lineman in his usual spot.

There were issues for the group at times. Several of Miller’s snaps to Justin Fields on the opening drive sailed either too high or too low, prompting the quarterback to adjust in order to corral the ball.

But Buckeyes coach Ryan Day felt as if their effort mattered the most.

“Watching it from the way I watched it, I thought they battled,” Day said. “Was it perfect? I'm sure it wasn't perfect. But they battled.”

Day was absent from Spartan Stadium, watching it from his home in Delaware County where he remains in insolation until Monday after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

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Redshirt freshman Enokk Vimahi also rotated in at left guard.

The line was most effective in aiding the running game, as the Buckeyes totaled a season-high 322 rushing yards. Trey Sermon, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, had his first 100-game at Ohio State with 112 rushing yards and a touchdown.

“I think those guys played a great game for it being their first game,” Fields said, “so I'm just proud of those guys and proud of the way they stepped up.”

It’s unclear how long Myers, Munford and Petit-Frere will be sidelined.

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Day struck an optimistic tone when asked about the return of missing players, noting the team had previously limited coronavirus cases within the program. Team physician Jim Borchers said last week that they had essentially none prior to the eve of Thanksgiving.

“If you look what we've done for the last four or five months, it's been excellent,” Day said. “And we've had this one mini-outbreak that was hard. We managed it. We did a great job. And here we are. So I'm hoping that the worst part is behind us and we can look forward.”

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman