Another spring practice in May? Nope, but Ryan Day wishes OSU could
Ohio State entered its final week of spring practice on Monday.
Ryan Day wishes it were just starting.
The Buckeyes’ coach is pleased with the progress his team has made so far. Asked about players who'd made a significant jump, Day declined out of concern that he might leave out somebody.
But everybody from seasoned veterans to early-enrollee freshmen, Day said, is still trying to make up for practice and game experience lost because of the pandemic.
“I wish we had another 15 practices here in May, but we don’t,” he told reporters in a Zoom call Monday after the team's 12th spring practice.
The Buckeyes will practice Tuesday and Thursday, with the spring game on Saturday. The focus this spring, especially early, was on fundamentals. Day said this week is particularly important because the novelty of practice has worn off and players must push their bodies through the pain that comes with the sport.
“It’s not the spring game,” Day said. “It’s not the beginning of camp. It’s hard. Some guys are bumped and bruised. This is where you get better. Guys are getting better across the board.”
As for the headline attraction, no, Day shed little light on the quarterback competition. Reporters were permitted to watch limited segments of practice for the third time this spring. As was the case in the first two practices, C.J. Stroud was first in line for reps, followed by Jack Miller and then true freshman Kyle McCord.
Day said that wasn’t significant.
“No, we’ve been rolling that,” he said.
None of the three have thrown a pass in a college game, and Day said their play reflects that.
“Guys have had good days,’ he said. “Guys have had not-so-good days. Guys have good reps and not-so-good reps. And that's what happens when you have young quarterbacks. There's a lot to improve on with all three guys. They need a million reps.
“The minute you think one guy is taking a step forward, he does something foolish, and then somebody else will make a play. And then they're coming on and then it flips the other way. But that's expected.”
Day said the quarterbacks have not tried to force things in an attempt to win the job by dazzling. They accept that it will be a grind.
“There’s been good progress there, but still a long way to go,” he said.
That’s the case throughout the roster, even with stars such as veteran receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Day was asked about them, and his answer could apply to the whole team.
“A lot to work on,” he said. “We have a year of deficiency, in my opinion, across the board, of development. We’re playing catch-up right now. The last week has been great, but the one thing that’s for sure is we’ve got light years to go.”
Saturday’s spring practice will be a big step. It’ll be the first time the Buckeyes have played in front of a sizable crowd since 2019. Almost 20,000 fans will be allowed to attend.
How close to a full-contact scrimmage Saturday will be hasn't been decided, Day said, as injuries and illness are taken into account.
“Whether we tackle or not, that’s yet to be determined,” he said. “We’ll probably decide that mid-week. At the very least, we’ll probably do a ‘thud’ and split the team up and play at least a half of football.”
After that, veterans will likely be rested, and a more controlled scrimmage will follow.
“I’m looking forward to having our guys play in front of a crowd and get back to some normalcy here,” Day said, “so we’re very, very excited about that.”