For the second day in a row, Ohio State opened a brief portion of its practice to reporters covering the Rose Bowl, giving us one more opportunity to get an on-field look at the Buckeyes before they play Utah on Saturday in Pasadena.
All 63 scholarship players who were at practice on Tuesday were accounted for once again at Wednesday’s practice, though defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste was working off to the side with an athletic trainer rather than participating in defensive line drills during the portion of practice that was open to the media. Jean-Baptiste appeared to be battling a lower-body injury.
Javontae Jean-Baptiste left position drills to do some work with a trainer during practice, and did not return to drills before the media left. pic.twitter.com/CjnORtqmQ5— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) December 29, 2021
The same 18 scholarship players who were not at practice on Tuesday were absent again on Wednesday, a likely indicator that they won’t be available for the Rose Bowl. Those players were running back Marcus Crowley, wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Kamryn Babb, offensive linemen Nicholas Petit-Frere, Harry Miller and Josh Fryar, defensive end Tyler Friday, defensive tackles Haskell Garrett, Antwuan Jackson, Jaden McKenzie and Noah Potter, linebackers Mitchell Melton and Cody Simon, cornerback Sevyn Banks and safeties Josh Proctor, Jantzen Dunn and Jaylen Johnson.
Wilson, Garrett and Petit-Frere have all opted out of the Rose Bowl while Crowley, Babb, Miller, Friday, Melton, Proctor, Dunn and Johnson are all out for the season due to injuries. Simon underwent shoulder surgery after the season and will not be available for the Rose Bowl, a source told Eleven Warriors, while Banks did not make the trip to California, posting multiple images from his hometown of Orlando, Florida on Instagram on Tuesday.
Stover takes first-team reps
Cade Stover continued to practice with the linebackers on Wednesday, and although Ohio State offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson described that as a “one-week deal” on Wednesday morning, it appears Stover could potentially be in line to play a substantial role.
During position drills on Wednesday, Stover was seen taking first-team reps at Sam linebacker alongside Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg.
While Ohio State didn’t use three-linebacker formations much during the regular season, that could be an indicator that the Buckeyes are considering using more three-linebacker packages against Utah. Like Michigan, Utah is a run-heavy team that uses a lot of two- and three-tight end formations, and replacing a defensive back with a bigger body like Stover – who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds – could give the Buckeyes a better chance of stopping the Utes than they did the Wolverines.
Below, you can get a glimpse of some of what the Buckeyes were doing during the 15 minutes of practice that were open to the media on Tuesday, including quarterbacks and running backs practicing handoffs, running backs practicing pass protection and defensive linemen
Ohio State quarterbacks handing off to running backs at Rose Bowl practice. C.J. Stroud and Kyle McCord are Ohio States only scholarship quarterbacks for the Rose Bowl after Jack Miller transferred to Florida and Quinn Ewers transferred to Texas. pic.twitter.com/FeHR7OGhdh— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 29, 2021
Ohio State defensive linemen working on their bull rush. pic.twitter.com/GDpwNPXDxu— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 29, 2021
TreVeyon Henderson working on his pass blocking pic.twitter.com/h3eYAejynb— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) December 29, 2021
Rain or shine, Demario McCall will have a good time at Ohio State practice. pic.twitter.com/lcpK1IGG2r— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) December 29, 2021
- Despite opting out of the Rose Bowl, Chris Olave continued to practice with the Buckeyes on Wednesday, though he did not take any reps during the open portion of practice that included quarterbacks throwing to receivers. Wilson said Wednesday that Olave was only doing individual work in practice on a “minimal” basis.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba explains why its valuable to have Chris Olave still practicing with the team this week even though he isnt playing.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 29, 2021
(For those of you who are concerned about Olave taking reps from other players, Kevin Wilson said Olave has been getting minimal reps.) pic.twitter.com/Ss6iaQ2WBv
Chris Olave still suited up for Buckeye practice today. pic.twitter.com/lTSGi11r0V— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) December 29, 2021
- Jeremy Ruckert and Gee Scott, both swapped jersey numbers for Tuesday’s practice, were back in their usual No. 88 and No. 13, respectively, on Wednesday.
- Freshman defensive tackle Tyleik Williams entered practice without his shoulder pads on and had his left shoulder thoroughly wrapped by a trainer before getting fully suited up.
- Joking about the poor weather during pre-practice stretching, Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs remarked “Sunny California my rear end!”