Ohio State started its practice on Thursday with an old-fashioned battle of tug-of-war.
After stretching and before the first official period of practice, players from Ohio State’s offense went head-to-head with members of the Buckeyes’ defense in six different matchups. The offense won all six bouts.
Ohio State started off its practice today with some offense vs. defense tug-of-war. The offense won 6-0. pic.twitter.com/TJvgH6xvdy— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 9, 2023
It was the second straight practice where Ohio State concluded its warmup period with a competition between players, as the Buckeyes went head-to-head on sprints before their first period of practice Tuesday.
Aside from the tug-of-war, most of what we saw during the four periods of practice we were allowed to watch Thursday was comparable to what we saw Tuesday, as the Buckeyes did largely the same drills on both days. That means there weren’t a ton of groundbreaking revelations from the portion of practice we were able to watch Thursday, but we were able to make a few observations and gather a bunch of video clips so you can get a closer look at this year’s Buckeyes in their first week of spring football.
Quarterback battle continues
Ohio State appears to be splitting up reps as evenly as possible between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown – at least during the individual drills the media has been permitted to watch – as the quarterbacks often alternated their order in the throwing lines on Thursday, with McCord taking the first reps sometimes and Brown jumping ahead of him at other times. Tristan Gebbia also received a healthy amount of reps as the third-string quarterback, with walk-ons Mason Maggs and Chad Ray also mixing in.
Here’s some footage of the quarterbacks throwing the ball if you want to get a look at them for yourself:
Heres some footage of Ohio States quarterbacks throwing the ball at todays practice: pic.twitter.com/ocrn40D0FR— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 9, 2023
Kyle McCord and Devin Brown take reps as the Ohio State quarterbacks go through the early sessions of the teams second spring practice. pic.twitter.com/3MUTNIOU2S— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) March 9, 2023
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Caleb Burton was not seen during the portion of Thursday’s practice that was open to the media after Devin Brown said Burton left Tuesday’s practice with an injury. That said, Burton was on the field stretching and meeting with Brian Hartline with the rest of the wide receivers after practice concluded.
Marv continues punt return work
One of the biggest storylines from Ohio State’s first spring practice was that Marvin Harrison Jr. was the first-team punt returner for the Buckeyes. The unanimous All-American and Biletnikoff Award finalist continued to work in that role Thursday.
Marvin Harrison Jr. was the first player in line for punt returns during Ohio States second spring practice. pic.twitter.com/xhhscAf8ZS— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) March 9, 2023
After Ohio State’s first practice, Day said he and his staff have looked for extra ways to put the ball in Harrison’s hands heading into 2023. With Emeka Egbuka set to miss all of the team’s spring practices due to an injury, the Buckeyes decided to experiment with Harrison returning punts.
“With Emeka not going this spring, we’re just going to put a bunch of guys back there,” Day said on Tuesday. “It’s hard when we’re inside. We’re looking at the weather, and I’m hoping to get outside some. That will give us a better feel for it, but we always look to build depth there at returner. He’s been doing it now kind of in practice a little bit here and there. He’s got really good depth perception, so if we need him back there, we will use him.”
Fellow wide receivers Jayden Ballard, Kaleb Brown and Reis Stocksdale – in that order behind Harrison – also got reps as punt returners on Thursday.
Defensive backs work on playing the ball
While two spring practices are not enough of a sample size to determine a true pecking order in the cornerback room, Tim Walton had the same players paired together for a dropback drill as he did on Tuesday. The Buckeyes’ first group was Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock, the second was Jyaire Brown and Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun and the third was Ryan Turner and freshman Jermaine Mathews Jr.
Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock work through dropbacks with Ohio State cornerbacks coach Tim Walton. pic.twitter.com/jfBrtIKZTj— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) March 9, 2023
Davison Igbinosun and Jyaire Brown were up next after Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock. pic.twitter.com/9oIQkDqSkg— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) March 9, 2023
The cornerbacks maintained that order in individual drills as practice progressed, with Burke leading the way followed by Hancock, Brown, Igbinosun, Turner and Mathews.
Ohio States defensive backs spent a lot of time working on playing the ball during the periods of practice we were able to watch today: pic.twitter.com/bAufdg6oKZ— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 9, 2023
At safety, the order in individual drills was led by Lathan Ransom and followed by Cameron Martinez, Josh Proctor, Ja’Had Carter, Kye Stokes, Sonny Styles and Malik Hartford.
Burke was a standout of Ohio State’s first practice, according to defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The third-year Buckeye “got his hands on more balls than maybe all of last spring and camp together” in the lone practice and was later named Knowles’ first Silver Bullet of the Day for Ohio State’s first session.
Defensive line practices shuffle technique
With the spread offense as a mainstay in college football, Ohio State’s defensive line can never be too prepared for an opposing offense to run read options or run-pass options as their primary attempt to push the ball down the field.
That said, defensive line coach Larry Johnson had his players developing their shuffle technique during today’s practice, with JT Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Caden Curry and others working on brushing off initial contact before shooting into an athletic stance to cut off potential ball carriers deep in the backfield.
Caden Curry, Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau, Omari Abor and Mitchell Melton practice their shuffle technique in an option drill with Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson. pic.twitter.com/EFfangxGhs— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) March 9, 2023
The defensive tackles also participated in the action, with Mike Hall Jr., Hero Kanu and Tyleik Williams looking to create gaps in the middle of the line of scrimmage for linebackers and safeties to push through.
Mike Hall Jr. and Hero Kanu worked a similar technique with the defensive tackles. pic.twitter.com/dCcrXOf8Ck— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) March 9, 2023
Offensive linemen hit the sleds
Much like at other positions, we haven‘t seen enough of practice yet to get a great feel for how the depth chart is currently stacking up on the offensive line, as Justin Frye’s linemen have mostly been lined up in pairs rather than a full five-man group during the drills the media has been able to watch.
During the first week of practice, fundamentals tend to be at a premium over setting a depth chart, and Ohio State’s offensive linemen have spent plenty of time working on their blocking technique during the practice periods we’ve been able to watch.
Ohio State offensive linemen including Tegra Tshabola (77), George Fitzpatrick (68), Ben Christman (71), Carson Hinzman (75) and Victor Cutler Jr. (59) doing sled work. pic.twitter.com/uJ9c7DYTb7— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 9, 2023