What we learned during the first week of Ohio State football preseason practice

COLUMBUS — After a little more than a week of preseason practice, Ohio State football still has a lot to figure out.

Fortunately for head coach Ryan Day, the Buckeyes don’t open the season for another three weeks.

How will they line up when they take the field at Indiana on Sept. 2?

Here is what we have learned so far:

1. The secondary appears to be coming together.

All signs point to year two under new coaches and a new coordinator having a good chance to be much better than year one.

Secondary/cornerbacks coach Tim Walton and safeties coach Perry Eliano both said their players look more comfortable with their job duties in Jim Knowles’ scheme, which should lend itself to more big plays for their side and fewer for the other.

Denzel Burke returns as one starting corner while Jordan Hancock and Davison Igbinosun may split snaps at the other.

At safety, senior Lathan Ransom is back at the “Bandit” (weakside/boundary safety) with Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter looking like the man in the middle (the “Adjuster) and sophomore Sonny Styles repping at nickel.

Lakota West grad Jyaire Brown is in the mix at corner and working out as the nickel, where the team might like a more coverage-oriented change-up to Styles against some opponents or on passing downs.

2. The defensive front seven is dealing with some injuries.

They might not be long-term issues, but neither Tyleik Williams or Mike Hall Jr. were available at the end of a Friday morning practice that was open to the media.

Williams presumably is still dealing with a lower body injury he suffered on the first day of preseason, but no other update has been offered on him. Hall, a fellow 2021 signee who is expected to have a big season, already had his left ankle taped up then needed attention from a trainer midway through practice. He remained on the field but did not take part in the rest.

They figure to rotate at the “3-technique” tackle while Ty Hamilton is the nose guard.

Mississippi transfer Tywone Malone and senior Jaden McKenzie took reps at 3-technique without Hall and Williams on Friday.

End looks deep, though, with juniors J.T. Tuimolau and Jack Sawyer backed up by second-year players Kenyatta Jackson and Caden Curry along with junior Mitchell Melton, who is coming back from a pair of knee injuries.

However, a sixth scholarship end, redshirt freshman Omari Abor, will be out for much of the season after suffering an injury that required surgery.

3. The offensive line is still in flux.

Jimmy Simmons, a transfer from San Diego State, was the No. 1 left tackle Friday while Josh Fryar was on the right side.

Tegra Tshabola, a redshirt freshman from Lakota West, was the No. 2 left tackle with true freshman Luke Montgomery on the right side.

That jibes with what Day said Thursday about the coaches moving guys around and taking a look at different combinations. It also represents a big change from the first day of practice when Fryar was on the left side (as he was all spring) and Zen Michalski was No. 1 on the right side followed by Tshabola.

“What we’re trying to do is project out how this all shakes out down the road, and what’s best in the long term, and I think by this time next week, I’ll have some good answers for you,” Day said Wednesday. “This is all stuff that we’re yelling at each other about the meeting rooms.”

Center also remains open according to Day, but redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman was No. 1 Friday followed by Louisiana Monroe transfer Victor Cutler and Jakob James, a junior who missed spring practice with an injury.

Austin Siereveld, a true freshman from Lakota East, was the No. 2 left guard behind returning starter Donovan Jackson in both open practices while Matt Jones returns as the starter at right guard with senior Enokk Vimahi, the team’s primary backup at guard last season, behind him.

4. No starting quarterback has been named yet.

It still looks like Kyle McCord’s job to lose, though.

The junior from Philadelphia has the experience advantage over redshirt freshman Devin Brown, and he looked sharper Friday while finishing the day with the first team when the coaches split the squads between two fields.

Brown is more athletic, but McCord made a few nice throws on the run.

Brown struggled behind the No. 2 offensive line at times and made a couple of turnover-worthy plays.

5. Saturday should be a big day.

Everything Day said Thursday and reporters saw Friday is subject to change, perhaps as soon as Monday, thanks to the first scrimmage of the preseason being set for Saturday.

That figures to present many players with opportunities to lock down spots or move up in the pecking order, including quarterback.

“It’s a good battle, and it’s back and forth,” Day said of the quarterbacks Wednesday. “They know that this this week is important to them. The scrimmage on Saturday will be important, and they’re constantly putting up numbers on a daily basis. So we’ll compare the statistics but there’s also the eyeball test and they’re both competing at a high level.”

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