Five Things to Watch For at Ohio State's First Open Practice of Fall Camp

By James Grega on August 7, 2018 at 8:10 am
Tate Martell

Ohio State opened fall camp on Friday morning, a practice that was originally supposed to be open to the media. 

After closing that practice in the wake of Urban Meyer being placed on paid administrative leave, Ohio State is inviting media to practice for the first time this fall to take in the first three periods for photo and video needs. 

Coaches and players will remain unavailable for interviews until further notice, as an investigation continues into the Meyer and Zach Smith situation. 

While we won't be able to talk to anyone following practice, we will get to see the Buckeyes in action for the first time since the spring and here are a few things we are keeping an eye on. 

What is the General Vibe of the Team? 

Anytime your head coach isn't around, practice is going to feel odd. 

Granted, the Buckeyes have had a few practices now without Meyer on the sidelines, so they might be getting used to it, however following check-in day and a rally yesterday, things have been switched up a bit. 

Personally, I am curious to see how Ryan Day reacts to having all eyes on him as the acting head coach and how Ohio State's leaders step up in what can only be described as a time of crisis for the Buckeyes. 

How are the QB reps divided?

Depending on what Ohio State focuses on in its first three periods before asking the media to leave, I am curious to see how Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell are divided, in terms of reps. 

Haskins is obviously the favorite to win the job, but at Big Ten Media Days, Meyer maintained that Martell is still competing and would not commit to naming a starter. 

While we won't likely get to see full team reps, I am most curious to see the difference in  play calling when each quarterback is behind center. It was clear in the Spring Game that Martell will be used more as a runner when in the game, but also, he clearly needs more reps as a passer. 

For Haskins, how does his arm look against Ohio State's first-team defense? Can he fit the ball into tight windows, and will the chances he is willing to take downfield be an asset or a detriment to this Buckeye offense? Hopefully we get a sneak peak at that this morning. 

How Available Are Tuf Borland, Dante Booker?

Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days that the only players he anticipated being limited were linebackers Tuf Borland and Dante Booker. 

Borland suffered an achilles injury in the spring while Booker is coming off of multiple shoulder injuries. Both were starters at some point during the 2017 season and Borland especially figures to play an integral role on Ohio State's defense as its middle linebacker. 

Booker, a veteran and a senior, has dealt with injuries his entire career and while he seems to be overlooked as a starter at this point, could easily still contribute on special teams or in a reserve role. 

It will be curious to see how much each player is able to do during practice and how engaged they are with the defensive reps as they continue to work their way back onto the field.

Is Brian Hartline Comfortable in His New Role?

I assume that he is fitting in just fine, but now that Brian Hartline is the wide receivers coach, how is he fitting in and how are the players responding to him?

As a former Buckeye and seven year NFL veteran, on the surface it would seem like it would be a smooth transition. However, this is only Hartline's second full season as a college football coach and he is suddenly in charge of a wide receiver unit that has largely failed to meet expectations over the last few years. 

How is his approach different from Zach Smith's in terms of his on-field coaching and do the receivers look any different from the spring? If so, how? That is what I am curious to see as fall camp progresses. 

Who Takes Over PR/KR Roles?

Usually when Ohio State opens practice to the media, we get to see a lot of special teams. With that, I am interested to see who the Buckeyes trust putting back as their return men on punt and kick return. 

Usually, Parris Campbell would be the obvious choice because of his speed, but after suffering head injuries last season on kick return, he could very well be regulated to just playing offense. 

K.J. Hill and Demario McCall figure to be the leading candidates to return kicks for the Buckeyes in 2018, but could there be a chance we see any freshmen like Jaelen Gill get a look at that spot? We will find out soon as Ohio State is set to open practice starting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

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