Quick Hits: Justin Frye Says Ohio State’s O-Line Has “A Lot More Still to Go” This Spring, Josh Fryar Likes Playing Guard and Tackle and Seth McLaughlin is “Head Over Heels” to Be a Buckeye

By Chase Brown, Dan Hope, Garrick Hodge and Andy Anders on April 1, 2024 at 2:34 pm
Justin Frye

O Block took center stage on Monday.

After Ohio State’s ninth practice of spring, offensive line coach Justin Frye and several members of his position room – Josh Fryar, Seth McLaughlin, Carson Hinzman, Luke Montgomery, Tegra Tshabola and George Fitzpatrick – answered questions from reporters on the Woody Hayes Athletic Center indoor practice field.

Among the many topics discussed, Frye said he is “still trying to find five” offensive linemen to start for the Buckeyes, Fryar said his performance last season “wasn't up to my standard” and McLaughlin said he's "head over heels" happy to be at Ohio State.

Below are videos and bullet-point recaps from each interview.

Justin Frye

  • On where Ohio State offensive line needs to improve the most this offseason: “We’re working on the right side. No, we’re still trying to find five. We’re going in platoons. We’re seeing who works well with each other, what spots and how that works. We just just finished (practice) nine. We got a lot more still to go.”
  • On who has stood out after nine practices: “We got some guys competing on the left side. We got some young guys. Austin (Siereveld) has been doing a good job coming up. Donovan (Jackson) had a really good plan in the offseason coming out, and he’s been attacking that stuff – the second level and some of the stuff we really honed in on. As a whole, the whole group, we’re still trying to find those five, and what that is I don’t have an answer.”
  • “Good gradable reps versus obviously a very good defensive front. As we come out of this thing, we’re gonna have a good picture for where we’re heading.” Frye said Ohio State will find its five best offensive linemen through grading: “As we grade, you can see the guys who grade well in critical situations. We have to put them in third-and-long situations. We have to put them in coming outs. We have to put them in short yardage. You have to manufacture enough of those so you can see in critical situations how these guys respond.”
  • Frye said competition will help Ohio State find its top five offensive linemen: “The cream always rises to the top.” He added: “If you’re going against Tyleik (Williams), if you’re going against Ty (Hamilton), if you’re going against Hero (Kanu) and (Kayden McDonald) and these guys now, we’re getting really good gradable reps that way.”
  • On Carson Hinzman: “He had a great offseason. It all started in the weight room with (strength coach Mick Marotti). His weight is up. He’s thick. He has always been an explosive guy, but he’s playing with a little bit of power behind him. He’s learning to do that. And then it’s natural maturation for all those guys in just his class alone. You’re talking him, you’re talking George, you’re talking Tegra, those guys are going into year three. That’s when you really start to figure it out – your body, the speed of the game, your fundamentals. He’s done a good job of adapting and really growing himself on a pace that you need to for a young guy that’s coming out of the fire last year.”
  • On Seth McLaughlin: “He just jumped right in. (He did an) unbelievable job both ways of him coming in shoving the ego,  which he really had none,  and walking into a room – as we told him when we recruited him – with a bunch of good dudes. And then our good dudes are good dudes. … There’s a learning curve there, but he’s been through a little bit of spring ball, and he’s been through a little bit of camp, but he’s still learning new terminology and learning a new skill set. But he dove right in and wanted to be a sponge, wanted to learn. He’s improving every day.”
  • On Luke Montgomery: “You can’t make moves or shift guys if they’re not mentally there. For him, he’s got a pretty good football (IQ). He’s growing every day, and he’s working. He’s getting beat every day, too, and he’s learning from that in the springtime. … Whether he’s coming in and watching the tape on his own and coming with questions or he’s grabbing me and watching tape with me, he’s learning so the game can slow down and he can get more comfortable with the friction. His weight is up. His strength is up. He spent an offseason with Mick. There’s a lot of development that still has to be had – he’s obviously not a finished product – but mentally for a guy to handle that helps a lot.”
  • Frye said Ian Moore, Devontae Armstong and Deontae Armstrong goal for their freshman year should be to “keep their head above water” and work on their physical and mental development.
  • Frye said Josh Fryar “could play all five” offensive line positions, mentioning that Frye played center and snapped the ball in high school. He added: “Josh has had a great offseason.”
  • Frye said he “would have laughed” if someone told him two years ago that Chip Kelly would follow him to Ohio State and become the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator. “But then I would have said, ‘It’s college football, so who knows?’”
  • On Chip Kelly: “He’s one of those guys that goes in the category that’s forgotten more football than some people have learned in their life. I believe he’s coached every position on both sides of the field, both sides of the ball, through his whole career. … He provides a really good vision of the big picture and understanding the next step, not just being in the right now.”
  • On Tegra Tshabola: “He was competing his butt off. He’s kind of living that way. That’s why we have that red line over there. When you cross the line, and Coach (Ryan) Day talks about that here, the game doesn’t care. You have to come out and do your job. The game doesn’t care about anything off the field. That can sound negative and harsh, but then if you spin your tone, isn’t it beautiful that the game doesn’t care? It doesn’t care about your skin color, your socioeconomic background or where you come from. If you do it the right way, the game will love you back. … For Tegra, he’s taken that approach. He wants to come in and be the guy.”
  • On Josh Simmons: “I think the game is slowing down for him. Those mistakes that may have showed up or the questions he may have had through the fall and the season, those are starting to erase a little bit, which is good. His communication level – he’s just talking more, which is probably the best thing he’s done so far. He’s a highly, highly talented guy. We’re just developing the skills, the discipline. … Volume and communication equals confidence. He’s playing much more confident right now.”

Josh Fryar

  • Fryar said his goal for his offseason was to “go hard the entire time and try to beat everyone I can in competitions.” He added he has a better grasp of strength and conditioning than he did last season.
  • On switching between guard and tackle in practice: “I like both. Guard is a lot faster, the guy is bull rushing you so you have to react faster. Tackle, there’s a lot more space and you’re dealing with a lot more athletic guys. So there’s a lot more in space there.”
  • Fryar said he’s been working at guard enough that he’s prepared to play there in a pinch if necessary.
  • Fryar said last season was a learning curve for him as a first-time starter. “It’s crazy to see the response from people when you have a bad season, I guess I could say. The DMs, people just trying to talk to you saying you suck, people commenting on my girlfriend’s post of you and it’s Ohio State fans. It’s kind of crazy to see but at the same time you understand their passion for us to win, so I get that.”
  • Fryar on his performance last year: “It wasn’t up to my standard. I thought I was thinking too much and not playing. I deleted my social media and I have other people who control my social media now.”
  • Fryar said his top five restaurants are Whataburger, Hardee’s, Domino’s, McDonald’s and In-N-Out Burger. 

Seth McLaughlin

  • On working with Chip Kelly: “It’s been awesome. He’s coached a lot of good guys and you can really tell the knowledge. He has a ton of excitement to coach us, which is awesome.”
  • McLaughlin said that he and Carson Hinzman are friends and he doesn’t view things as a “competition” for the center spot. “I think the best five guys are gonna play, whatever that may be. I’m thankful that’s not my decision to make, that’s the coaches.”
  • While McLaughlin went through three difference offensive coordinators at Alabama, he said this is the first time he’s had to learn entirely new terminology for an offense. “Being here, it’s new tools, new terminology. So that’s, really, the biggest adjustment. But other than that it’s been pretty smooth.”
  • On putting his snapping issues from last season behind him and focusing on football this spring: “Last year happened. Can’t go back and control what happened. But this year I can put my best foot forward and be the best center or offensive lineman that I can be. And that’s really all I can control now.”
  • McLaughlin is enjoying his time off the field at Ohio State. “I’m absolutely head over heels, just so happy. It’s been super refreshing being here. I love the guys in this locker room, like truly. Every single guy throughout every single position group has been so open and welcoming and just really loving. They know where I came from and I think they have respect for that. So I hope that they can see that I can add to this team.”
  • On the difference between Ohio State and Alabama: “There’s not a lot different. There’s a high standard at both places. Here, I think Coach Mick does an incredible job in the weight room making that culture around fighting. Fighting to be your best, fighting to take the next step. And that culture of, ‘Fight’ has just been awesome.”
  • On Luke Montgomery: “Luke’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a good guy, he’s really striving to get better. I think all those guys in those positions are striving to take the next step to do better and I think they’re all doing a really good job of taking Coach Frye’s advice and taking each step moving forward.”
  • On some of the inexperience on Ohio State’s offensive line: “The inexperience part, it all goes away if you communicate well. Everybody knows what they’re doing, especially if you communicate. And if everybody knows what they’re doing, then you’re gonna have success.”

Carson Hinzman

  • Asked about being benched for the Cotton Bowl, Hinzman said he “fully support(ed) what’s best for the team at the time … That’s a decision they made, and all I could do is just get ready and compete for this next year.”
  • Hinzman said Seth McLaughlin has “been a great addition to the team, a great addition to the O-line room.” Hinzman said the competition with McLaughlin at center has made him “so much better.”
  • Hinzman, a Wisconsin native, said his dad gave him a “10-pound bag of cheese” after the Wisconsin game that he shared with his teammates.
  • Hinzman said he views last year as a “developmental year … Looking back on it, there’s some mistakes I’m like ‘There’s no way I would make that right now. There’s no reason why I would do that.’ But I just needed that to develop into what I am today. So I’m super grateful for it.”
  • On his preparation going into last season: “In my mind, I felt prepared. Looking back now, you’re like ’Wow, that kid really didn’t know anything.’”
  • Asked about the possibility of moving to guard if McLaughlin wins the starting center job, Hinzman says he’d be happy to play anywhere along the offensive line, but he’s practiced only at center so far this spring.
  • Hinzman said he currently weighs 298 pounds and is trying to get up to 303 pounds. He said there were times early last season when he was playing at only 280 pounds.

Luke Montgomery

  • On the transition to right guard: “It’s a little different for sure. Just getting used to it. Spring ball is all about technique, so getting used to the technique, it’s a little faster inside. But I’m enjoying it. I’m having a lot of fun out there.”
  • Montgomery said he has been practicing exclusively at guard this spring.
  • Montgomery said he’s gained about 12-14 pounds since last year. His current weight is around 308-309 pounds.
  • Montgomery believes playing the Bison role last year helped prepare him to compete for a starting job this year. “I think it prepares me well. I was really blessed with the opportunity to be able to step into that position and see the field.”
  • Asked about being described as a “freak athlete,” Hero Kanu interjected with his own answer: “This man is strong. Athletic. He’s got the basketball feet. It’s not like you can just do an inside move, he recovers really fast, just the overall strength that he has. And he doesn’t give up on a play … You can see the improvement every day.”
  • Montgomery said he was really excited about the hiring of Chip Kelly because of Kelly’s history of playing with tempo. “I feel like just the fast-paced offense that we’re running really fits the guys we have right now. I’m really excited for that.”
  • On what it would mean to him to be a starter this year: “That would mean a lot. You put a lot of work in to play here, and it’s been a dream just from being an Ohio kid and from an Ohio kid’s perspective. I mean, that’s the biggest wish possible.”
  • Asked to name a defensive tackle who has given him trouble in practice this spring, Luke Montgomery named Jason Moore. “I mean, they’re all freaks. I think Jason Moore has had a really good spring so far. He’s gotten a lot better since he’s gotten here. But I mean, they’re all freaks.”

Tegra Tshabola

  • On how spring practice is going: “It’s been good. As a team, we’re competing our asses off. We’re getting after it every day. We keep growing at this level, we’ll be a pretty good team.”
  • On competing to start along the right side of the offensive line: “We’re competing every day. We’ve competed in the weight room, competed out here. We’re still going after it every day, getting everybody better.”
  • On what it takes to become a contributor at Ohio State: “Just grit. You’ve gotta come out here, nobody really cares about how you feel, nobody really cares about what you’re going through. You’ve just gotta come out here and wipe it off your mind and take the field and get after it.”
  • McLaughlin is a “really smart football player,” Tshabola said. “You can just feel the knowledge in the room when he starts to answer questions that coaches are asking. When he explains it, it’s like he hears it one time and he’s got it down. He’s very smart.”
  • On his motto entering spring: “Nobody cares. Nobody cares how you feel. Nobody cares how you think you should be. Nobody cares what you’re going through. Just take the field and go as hard as you can because too many people are invested in you (for you) not to go hard.”
  • On needing to take a step up to compete at right tackle: “Absolutely. I’m very confident in my ability and all I can do is take the field and try to get better day by day. That’s with coaching, that’s with drills, that’s with applying the meeting to the field.”

George Fitzpatrick

  • On Chip Kelly’s offense: “I think his offense is very explosive. We’re all getting off the ball fast. I can’t get too into detail about the scheme but we’re playing fast. Everyone saw what he did at UCLA, we know he can create an explosive offense.”
  • On Seth McLaughlin: “Seth has very high character, he holds himself to our standard and his own standard. Seth has been a good addition to the room. He has two full seasons in the SEC under his belt and has two degrees from Bama so he’s a very smart dude.”
  • On what a successful offseason looks like for him: “I’d say just improving on what I need to improve on. Just competing and doing everything I can to be one of the five guys.”
  • Fitzpatrick says he’s working on his punching mechanics and run game technique the most in spring football.
  • Fitzpatrick said Jack Sawyer, J.T. Tuimoloau and Caden Curry have been impressive this spring in drills.
View 63 Comments