Ohio State held its first major scrimmage of the 2019 preseason Saturday.
The media were allowed to watch the beginning of practice, but none of the actual action.
“Today was really the first day in pads that we’ve hit, that we’ve tackled to the ground,” head coach Ryan Day said afterward. “A lot of the stuff leading up to this point, we were kind of installing (schemes), and you didn’t get a good feel for that. Today was a little bit more of a feel for that.”
Here are five takeaways from Day’s description of what went on at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
1. Defense won.
Day said they did not keep score, but the stop unit had a better day than the scoring unit in his view.
“Offense turned the ball over too many times, didn’t run the ball the way that they should, so defense won the day for sure,” Day said.
Linebacker K’Vaughn Pope and cornerback Sevyn Banks returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Day said the defensive line was disruptive.
2. That could be good or bad.
Of course, any practice result is a double-edged sword. What is good for one side is bad for the other, but everyone is on the same team at the end of the day.
“I don’t know really who’s ahead of the other, but I will say up to this point, it’s kind of gone back and forth, which is a good sign,” Day said. “The offense will kind of get after the defense one day and then vice versa. So that’s healthy
“I think if one side is dominating the other throughout camp then you may have an issue, but right now it’s been a good battle. Very disappointed with the turnovers today, but I think guys were getting after it. I think it was physical, I think it was explosive.”
3. There is still officially no starting quarterback.
Day said at the start of camp he might like to be ready to name a starter from the trio of Justin Fields, Gunnar Hoak and Chris Chugunov after a week, but eight practices in that was not the case.
“I thought after today I would have a better feel — I didn’t,” Day said. “Nobody went out there and won the job for sure.
“So, again, still a work in progress. Hopefully at this time next week somebody steps up and wins the job.”
He did not say who was guilty of any of the turnovers that drew his ire in the scrimmage.
4. He hasn’t seen a backup running back emerge yet, either.
While J.K. Dobbins is gearing up to be the bell cow back for the Buckeyes, Day has named finding a reliable No. 2 a big priority this preseason.
Master Teague might have entered the month with a leg up in the competition, but the redshirt freshman has been limited by an unidentified injury.
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The others in the competition are junior Demario McCall and true freshmen Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers.
“Had an opportunity, again, to say, ‘Okay, here is somebody that is going to win that spot today,’ and it didn’t happen,” Day said. “We’re still looking for that guy. Master hasn’t been practicing, so it’s hard obviously for him to win the job. Demario and Marcus and Steele are kind of in the battle for it, and that battle continues.”
5. Day was happy Robert Landers spoke out about mental health.
Landers, a senior defensive tackle and Wayne High grad, released a video encouraging those scarred by the shooting in the Oregon District or just facing mental health issues for any reason to stay strong and not be afraid to seek help.
“Well, first off, I’m proud that he did that,” Day said. “I think that it hit home close to him, being from Dayton. But when you look at what’s going on out there, it’s happened in almost every major city since January 1st, and there’s so much going on with it.”
The message aligns well with Day and his wife, Christina, starting a fund to raise money for youth mental health awareness earlier this summer and Day preaching the importance of players and coaches being open about what is on their minds.
“We’ve hired two more athletic counselors that will be in house, that will be working with our guys, and they were introduced to the team this past week, and they understand that we’re here, that there’s no stigma attached in asking for help,” Day said.
“Mental illness is one of those things that we have to make sure that there’s no stigma attached to it. I think our guys are hearing the message, and I’m proud of B.B. (Landers) for standing up. B.B. is somebody who’s been here for a while, has got a lot of respect from the younger guys, and to have a voice like that so that people can hear that it’s okay to ask for help, it means a lot. So I give B.B. a lot of credit for doing that.”
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