COLUMBUS — The Ohio State offense rallied to get the better of the defense in the Buckeyes’ first scrimmage of the spring Saturday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Dallan Hayden caught a pass in the flat from Kyle McCord, broke a tackle and found the end zone to put the offense over the top on the final play.
The final margin in the custom scoring system was 102-100, an outcome that seemed unlikely for most of the morning.
McCord and fellow quarterback competitor Devin Brown took turns struggling to find time or open receivers in early parts of the practice, which included seven-on-seven and other situational drills including red zone and third downs.
But both came alive later in the practice, hitting long passes on their first plays when the final stretch of live, 11-on-11 play resumed.
McCord hit Jayden Ballard on a pump-and-go for a 50-yard score on the first play. Then Brown, working with the second team, found Kaleb Brown for a big play down the middle to set up a short touchdown run by Chip Trayanum.
“It was practice six, and one of the things we’ve been talking about is competing so you heard it over and over again,” head coach Ryan Day said when it was over. “Whether it was individual drills, team drills, seven on seven, red zone pass, the goal line tackle early in practice. So that’s what we were trying to do.
“The guys were into it. We’ll look at the film and the execution, but I thought overall the effort was there and the competitive nature was there.”
Other observations from the practice, which lasted close to 2 1/2 hours and took place in front of a fairly large audience that included player families and recruits:
- The quarterbacks (who wore black jerseys and could not be hit) both saw time with the first and second team. No matter which group either was paired with, he generally did not have a lot of time to throw thanks to the pass rush. Several rushers stood out, including junior-to-be Jack Sawyer and redshirt freshman Kenyatta Jackson at end and veteran Jaden McKenzie inside.
- The secondary also had a big role as they played tight most of the day and recorded a handful of pass breakups.
- One of the notable completions came when McCord scrambled to his right and found Noah Rogers open over the middle for a big gain. Throwing on the run has been a point of emphasis for McCord this spring. He also completed a third-down pass to Hayden on a bootleg later in the practice and had a touchdown pass taken off the board when Day ruled he had been “sacked” by a nearby defender as he scrambled but kept his eyes downfield.
- “It’s hard to tell until you look at the film,” Day said of McCord, “but he certainly flashed there at the end and had some energy about him and had some leadership, and I think the whole offense feeds off of that.”
- Tegra Tshabola, a redshirt freshman from Lakota West, was with the second-team offensive line during position drills at the beginning of practice, but he played right tackle on the first team for much of the scrimmage portion.
- Joshua Padilla, a true freshman early enrollee from Wayne High School, was the third-team center behind Carson Hinzman and Victor Cutler. Lakota East grad Austin Sierveld, another member of the 2023 class, was the third-team left guard.
- Day called center “a bright spot so far” as Hinzman looks to replace two-year starter Luke Wypler. “There’s been good progress there. I think you can say when you don’t notice a center, that’s a good thing. Again, still it’s just early on, not even halfway through spring practice.”
- C.J. Hicks, a sophomore-to-be from Alter High School, joined classmate Gabe Powers at linebacker with the second team.
- Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock primarily were the first-team cornerbacks with Mississippi transfer Davison Igbinosun and Lakota West grad Jyaire Brown on the second team followed by Jermaine Mathews Jr. and Ryan Turner.
- Seniors Lathan Ransom and Josh Proctor were the deep safeties on the first team with junior Cam Martinez at nickel. They were backed up respectively by Sonny Styles, Kye Stokes and Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter.
- Senior Cade Stover (like fellow veterans Marvin Harrison Jr. and Miyan Williams) did not see many snaps at tight end during the scrimmage, giving the staff a long look at senior Gee Scott Jr. and junior Joe Royer on the first team. True freshman Jelani Thurman was a regular with the second unit, and he caught what looked like a game-winning touchdown pass on the final drive. However, Thurman was ruled down at the one, setting up Hayden’s run two plays later.
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