Observations from Ohio State's Eleventh Practice of Fall Camp

By Dan Hope and Colin Hass-Hill on August 14, 2019 at 11:20 am
Justin Fields

For the fourth and final scheduled time in preseason camp, Ohio State opened the beginning of its practice to members of the media on Wednesday morning, when the Buckeyes held their 11th practice of preseason camp.

In the middle of the final full week of camp before the academic semester begins next week, Ohio State was in shorts on Wednesday – so it wasn’t one of the Buckeyes’ most intense practice of the week – but the media was able to see a little more than previous open viewing windows, as the Buckeyes spent more time practicing on the side of the field where the media is allowed to stand and allowed the media to watch their first six periods of Wednesday’s practice.

Our takeaways from Wednesday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center:

Observations from team periods

Justin Fields took the vast majority of reps with the first-team offense alongside J.K. Dobbins. Though Ryan Day has not yet named a starting quarterback, it’s as clear as ever that Fields will be the team’s starting quarterback this season.

Chris Chugunov took most of the second-team reps at quarterback, while Gunnar Hoak – who still has his black stripe on his helmet – lined up with mostly with the third-team offense.

Though Greg Studrawa has continued to rotate Branden Bowen and Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle, Bowen once again took the first reps with the starters throughout Wednesday’s open practice window. Joshua Alabi also took most of the first-team reps at left tackle, with Thayer Munford joining the second-team offensive line.

Here’s how the offensive lines looked:

  • First-team: left tackle Joshua Alabi, left guard Jonah Jackson, center Josh Myers, right guard Wyatt Davis, right tackle Branden Bowen
  • Second-team: left tackle Thayer Munford, left guard Matthew Jones, center Harry Miller, right guard Gavin Cupp, right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere

With Austin Mack still sidelined by injury, Binjimen Victor and Chris Olave lined up as the first-team wide receivers with K.J. Hill in the slot and Luke Farrell at tight end.

In the first individual period at the beginning of the practice, Dobbins was first through drills, and he was followed, in order, by Demario McCall, Master Teague, Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers. McCall did not spend the entirety of the practice with the running backs, though. He also spent some time during positional drills with the wide receivers.

Once again, Jashon Cornell and Davon Hamilton lined up with the first-team defense at defensive tackle. They’ve been with the starters for the entirety of fall camp. Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper joined them as defensive ends. With Tyreke Smith coming off offseason surgery, the second-team defensive line consisted of Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Haskell Garrett, Robert Landers and Tyler Friday.

Weakside linebacker Malik Harrison, middle linebacker Tuf Borland and strongside linebacker Pete Werner took the first-team reps at their respective positions. Dallas Gant, Baron Browning and K’Vaughan Pope were the second-team linebackers during the time reporters were allowed to watch practice.

As Ohio State moved into team drills, Damon Arnette lined up at slot cornerback for the first couple snaps, with Shaun Wade and Jeff Okudah as the outside cornerbacks and Jordan Fuller the sole deep safety. Sevyn Banks also got reps with the first-team defense, signaling he might have the inside track to be the fourth cornerback on the depth chart behind Arnette, Okudah and Wade.

Punt teams

For the first time in Ohio State’s fall camp viewing windows, the Buckeyes punted from the media’s side of the field during their first-period punting drills on Wednesday, allowing us to get an up-close look at which players could make up the punt and punt block units this year.

Fall Camp Observations
Aug. 2 – Practice 1
Aug. 6 – Practice 4
Aug. 10 – Practice 8

Players who lined up in various with the first-team punting unit, with Drue Chrisman punting, included linebackers Teradja Mitchell, Tuf Borland, Malik Harrison and Dallas Gant, safeties Jordan Fuller and Isaiah Pryor, bullet Brendon White and tight end Luke Farrell. Mitchell and Borland were among those who lined up in the backfield as Chrisman’s protectors, while wide receiver Ellijah Gardiner and cornerback Sevyn Banks were among those who ran as gunners.

Buckeyes on the second-team punting unit included defensive ends Jonathon Cooper and Tyler Friday, linebackers Pete Werner and Baron Browning, tight ends Rashod Berry and Jake Hausmann, running back Xavier Johnson, cornerback Amir Riep and safety Josh Proctor. 

The Buckeyes’ punt block unit, also known as the “Dream Team,” included many of the Buckeyes’ new freshmen such as wide receiver Jameson Williams, linebackers Cade Stover and Craig Young, running backs Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers and safety Bryson Shaw. Williams, who was commended for his performance on special teams after losing his black stripe last week, was the standout of the team on Wednesday morning, showing his speed in attacking off the edge and nearly blocking multiple punts.

Larry Johnson at work

Ohio State spreads its position groups across the practice field during individual drills at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, making it difficult at times to get a glimpse of some players – including the quarterbacks and linebackers.

The defensive line, though, typically goes through drills directly in front of the media, and it did so once again on Wednesday, offering an up-close look at Larry Johnson leading his position group through a few drills.

It’s not overly difficult to understand how Johnson gained his reputation. With graduate assistant Kenny Anunike by his side, he never stops teaching.

Other notes

  • Ohio State assistant strength and conditioning coach Chris Fenelon gave the Buckeyes their pre-practice speech on Wednesday. “What does it mean to be tough?” was the theme of his speech. “That first play of the game, you knock somebody out, you think you’re tough? You’re not. Do it again, and do it again, and do it again, and do it again, till they don’t want no more smoke.”
  • Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was back at practice on Wednesday, and he spent time chatting with his successor Ryan Day.
  • Ohio State cornerback Cameron Brown, who began camp wearing No. 26, is now wearing No. 35.
  • Along with Mack, other players who remained in the injury group on Wednesday were cornerback Tyreke Johnson, wide receiver Kamryn Babb, linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Justin Hilliard, safety Ronnie Hickman and defensive end Noah Donald. Teague, Mitchell and tight end Cormontae Hamilton were back to participating in drills with their teammates after missing practice time with undisclosed injuries last week.
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