Ohio State football: 7 personnel notes from the first pregame presser of the year

After an entire Ohio State football training camp passed without one interview session, Ryan Day and Greg Schiano had a lot of ground to cover Monday. 

Day, the interim head coach as Urban Meyer’s suspension continues, managed to do an admirable job of that, but at least one question did seem to stump him. 

How will he feel Saturday when the Buckeyes take on Oregon State and he is a head coach for the first time? 

“I’ve been taking it day by day, honestly,” Day said. "Just like the (message to the players): ‘Win the moment.’ I’ve been trying to focus on today and then tomorrow I’ll focus on tomorrow. Then we just go from there because there is no script I’m always still looking forward.” 

The nearly one-hour press conference produced lots of news and nuggets, including the always popular personnel questions that precede the first game of the year. 

Here are seven: 

1. Day confirmed sophomore Dwayne Haskins will be the the starting quarterback, as expected. 

Redshirt freshman Tate Martell will play, too, but how or how much has not been determined. The duo got the majority of the reps during camp because true freshman Matt Baldwin is still recovering from a knee injury that ended his high school career. 

2. Michael Jordan is the new starting center for the Buckeyes, replacing Cincinnati Bengals first-round draft pick Billy Price. 

Jordan moved over from left guard, where he started the last two seasons. The new left guard will be Malcolm Pridgeon. 

Senior Brady Taylor was the leading candidate to be the starting center at the end of spring, but he had to deal with some nagging injuries in the preseason. 

Day said he should play Saturday and the permanent starting lineup hasn’t been determined yet.  

3. Left tackle is still up in the air. 

Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi are still competing to replace Jamarco Jones at left tackle. Munford was considered the favorite through most of the offseason, but he had to deal with nagging injuries during preseason camp. 

4. The starting linebackers will be Pete Werner, Baron Browning and Malik Harrison. 

Tuf Borland and Dante Booker are expected to have significant roles sooner or later, but they are both still working back from injury. 

Schiano also said Keandre Jones and Justin Hilliard will be in the mix. 

5. The open safety spot is still open. 

With Damon Webb graduating, Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Went competed to replace him. 

They are still competing, as Jordan Fuller and Erick Smith were at this time last season before Fuller eventually pulled away to become the full-time starter. 

6. Expect a three-man rotation at cornerback. 

With Damon Webb now a member of the Cleveland Browns, Ohio State needs a new starter along with Damon Arnette. 

Schiano said Jeffrey Okuda and Kendall Sheffield will be in a rotation with Arnette, a system that has served OSU well over the past few seasons. 

“I think the way we play, we play press coverage almost every down and not only is it physically tiring, but it's mentally,” Schiano said. “Every down you this could be the one he's going deep, right? So, and those guys have done a great job.” 

7. Which true freshmen will play? 

Schiano was reticent to commit but named a few names: Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday at defensive end and Tommy Togiai and Taron Vincent at defensive tackle. 

“I always hate to do that, you know, and I know some coaches do that,” Schiano said with a pained look on his face. “I think there's so much pressure on freshmen already -- and at a place like Ohio State there's even more pressure. Because these are four and five star players that everybody expects them to instantly be great players and it's not that easy all the time. But you will see some freshmen out there playing on special teams.” 


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