Ohio State Practice Observations: Position Battles Continue As Buckeyes Begin Final Week of Spring Ball

By Dan Hope on April 12, 2021 at 11:46 am
Miyan Williams

The final week of spring football has arrived at Ohio State.

Ohio State is practicing four times this week, culminating with the spring game on Saturday at noon, and on Monday, the Buckeyes opened the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to the media for the third time this spring to watch the first six periods of practice. On a cool, cloudy morning in Columbus, the Buckeyes practiced entirely outside on Monday, giving us a different perspective to watch practice from our first couple trips to the WHAC earlier this spring, when we watched practice indoors.

With position battles continuing at quarterback, along the offensive line and elsewhere, here is some of what I saw while watching the Buckeyes go through drills on Monday morning:

Rep cycle continues at quarterback

Watching the quarterbacks is always the first order of business for a media member observing Ohio State football practice this spring, but things haven't changed much in that regard since last week, as the Buckeyes continue to split up reps as evenly as possible between C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord. 

In the final period of practice that the media was able to watch, Ohio State were running “half-line” drills with two groups of offensive and defensive players on the field at the same time, with only three offensive linemen on the field for each group, with the three quarterbacks rotating between the two groups – allowing each of them to get twice as many throwing reps during the period as they would otherwise. 

During an 11-man offensive drill in the third period of practice, Stroud took reps with the first-team offensive line and receivers while Miller was with the second unit and McCord was with the third. During the red zone passing portion of practice in the fourth period, however, Miller led off the order while Stroud went second and McCord went third.

While McCord remained at the tail end of the order on Monday, there were certainly moments that showed why the true freshman should not be counted out in the quarterback competition. The two best throws I saw during the open portion of practice were a pair of perfectly placed deep balls from McCord to Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He also went 3-for-3 in the red zone passing drill, with touchdown tosses to Jeremy Ruckert and Steele Chambers (though Chambers was left wide open).

Miller went 3-for-6 in red zone passing, with touchdown throws to Garrett Wilson and one to Marvin Harrison Jr., while Stroud went 2-for-3 with one touchdown pass each to Wilson and Harrison.

On the defensive end, Ryan Watts and Tyreke Johnson were among the cornerbacks credited with pass breakups during the red zone drill. On the final play of practice before the media was ushered out, McCord was intercepted by fellow midyear enrollee Reid Carrico.

Fryar, Wypler on the first team

Colin Hass-Hill wrote last week about how second-years Josh Fryar and Luke Wypler are both competing for starting jobs on the interior offensive line, and Monday's practice showed that wasn't just lip service. Both of them were with the first-team offensive line on Monday, with Fryar at left guard and Wypler at center along with left tackle Thayer Munford, right guard Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones, who was the first-team right tackle in place of Nicholas Petit-Frere, who was not seen at practice on Monday. (Ryan Day said after practice that Petit-Frere's absence would be a “short-term” situation.)

The first-team wide receiver lineup consisted of Olave and Wilson on the outside with Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the slot.

The running backs continued to rotate through the teams, but with Master Teague only practicing in a limited capacity, Miyan Williams led the running back order on Monday, followed by third-years Steele Chambers and Marcus Crowley, then followed by freshmen TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor.

Monday's second-team offensive line consisted of Enokk Vimahi at left tackle, Jack Jamieson at left guard, Matthew Jones at center, Ryan Jacoby at guard and Grant Toutant at right tackle. Harrison and Jameson Williamson ran with the second-team offense at outside wide receiver with Emeka Egbuka in the slot.

The third-team offensive line consisted of Zen Michalski at left tackle, Trey Leroux at left guard, Jakob James at center, Zach Stevenson at right guard and Ben Christman at right tackle.

Clips from practice

Below, you can watch a couple of short clips from Monday's Ohio State practice, featuring offensive linemen working on their lateral movement and running backs catching passes out of the backfield.

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