Five Things: Talent Abounds Even As Questions Remain at Quarterback and Within Offensive Line As Scarlet Beats Gray

By Chris Lauderback on April 14, 2024 at 8:35 am
James Peoples

A breezy, sun-splashed afternoon greeted Ohio State's players and 80,012 fans as the Buckeyes put a bow on spring camp with Team Scarlet outlasting Team Gray, 34-33, in Ohio Stadium. 

With the scrimmage getting the national television treatment from Fox, the two-hour infomercial for Ryan Day's program yielded mostly very positive results although questions remain at quarterback and along the right side of Ohio State's offensive line. 

The secondary looked poised to live up to its Best In America moniker, the defensive line depth gave its offensive counterparts fits, the wide receiver and running back rooms look stocked to the gills and the sheer presence of Chip Kelly as offensive coordinator, giving Day the ability to more fully embrace head coaching duties all felt like big wins. 

Even better, Ohio State appeared to exit the scrimmage without any new injuries although safety Lathan Ransom of course did not play as the veteran focuses on being ready when it matters and the Buckeyes were also without wide receiver Brandon Inniss and defensive back Lorenzo Styles, among others. 

With that, let's get to the first Five Things for the 2024 season. 


Not that it was expected to wrap up yesterday but it's clear Ohio State's starting quarterback battle will carry into at least August. 

Transfer Will Howard started the scrimmage and completed 9-of-13 throws for 77 yards. He showed pretty solid pocket presence but his outing didn't put to rest the prior reviews coming out of spring camp that his ball placement on intermediate-to-deeper throws leaves room for improvement. That said, it would be foolish to discount his experience, his ability as a runner wasn't showcased in spot duty, and it's fair to expect overall improvement as he gains increased familiarity in Ohio State's system. 

Meanwhile, last year's backup to Kyle McCord, Devin Brown, completed 5-of-7 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown while adding three carries for 24 yards. He engineered the most impressive touchdown drive of the afternoon as he completed 3-of-3 passes for 50 yards including a scoring strike to Brennen Schramm and added a 10-yard run. 

Brown's mobility is obviously a plus but whether he can continue to refine his accuracy on deeper throws while improving overall consistency are legit questions. Not to mention, thus far in his career, durability has been a major issue. 

Many were excited to see what true freshman Julian Sayin could do as a possible darkhorse in the starting quarterback race and while it's a good bet he'll be an elite starter for Ohio State in due time, I don't think that time is this September. He did complete 10-of-17 throws for 85 yards but he tossed a pick and took three sacks, showing that seasoning and gaining size/strength - which is to be expected - is needed to take him to the next level. 

It's probably worth keeping in mind these guys were going against some elite defenders but Kelly and Day still have work to do to develop a guy(s) that can help Ohio State reach its lofty 2024 goals.  


Speaking of elite defenders, Ohio State's secondary is loaded with them. 

Playing over a dozen guys behind the linebackers, the Buckeyes racked up four interceptions and six pass breakups. All four picks came from reserves and four of the six PBUs came from guys not expected to be in heavy rotation this fall. 

Starting cornerback Davison Igbinosun flashed his usual intensity regardless of the setting with some tight coverage and a PBU. No. 1 corner Denzel Burke wasn't out there long, starting nickel Jordan Hancock looked great in limited action and No. 3 corner Jermaine Matthews was sticky while posting a PBU of his own. 

True freshman Aaron Scott Jr. logged a pair of pass breakups and was a drop away from his first pick in front of OSU fans. 

Bottom line, it would've been hard for any quarterback to look great against this secondary and it could be the linchpin of a championship run if the offense can uphold its end of the bargain this fall. 


Starting tailback TreVeyon Henderson looked as spry as ever albeit in very limited action as did top backup / co-starter Quinshon Judkins. Those are proven commodities but as we've come to realize over the last few years, you need more than two tailbacks and that will most certainly be true if Ohio State plays the max 17 games this season. 

As such, officially losing Dallan Hayden to the transfer portal this week isn't a great thing but it was good to see the cupboard isn't bare. 

True freshman James Peoples left an impression with 13 touches for 59 yards including a 13-yard touchdown jaunt. The kid showed a knack for falling forward and some nice versatility with three grabs for 23 yards. 

Veteran TC Caffey also did some work with seven touches for 42 yards. He's not as shifty as Peoples but runs a bit sturdier at this point. Kelly and Day have hinted Caffey could have a role so it was good to see what he can do as possibly a third or fourth option. 

And of course we have to mention Sam Williams-Dixon. The true freshman out of Pickerington put up the best numbers of the day with 11 carries for 75 yards including a 22-yard touchdown run up the gut in the third quarter. 

I suppose there's still a chance Day kicks the tires on transfer portal running backs like former UMass and Rutgers running back Kay'Ron Lynch-Adams (out of Warren, Ohio) but if not, I think the Buckeyes would be okay to lean on current depth. 


Outside of quarterback, the biggest question mark on this team still still sits along the right side of the offensive line. 

Day made what appears to be a significant acquisition in the form of Alabama transfer center Seth McLaughlin and of course, returnees left tackle Josh Simmons and left guard Donovan Jackson give the Buckeyes sure-fire starters. 

Last year's starting right tackle, Josh Fryar, took his fair share of lumps in big games, so much so I felt like the Buckeyes might go portal shopping for an upgrade over the winter. But all spring we've heard Fryar has stepped up, refined his body and footwork, and Day recently talked about how he sees Fryar as a right tackle long-term. 

That said, right guard feels unsettled as last year's center, Carson Hinzman, and last year's backup right tackles, Luke Montgomery and Tegra Tshabola, have all seen time there in hopes of filling the shoes of the departed Matt Jones. 

Fryar even saw time at right guard earlier in spring camp which potentially hints back to Day's comment about him being a 'long term' solve at right tackle but maybe that means he could have to play right guard short term? Of course that can only happen if Day were to snag a legit right tackle in the post-spring portal. 

Yesterday, it was Hinzman who started at right guard. Could he fill that spot come the season opener? It's certainly realistic given he was a guard in high school and has a season's worth of experience on OSU's starting offensive line even if it came at center. 

Could Day go into the portal and snag a starting right guard? 

The only thing certain here is that as of April 14, you get the sense Day doesn't feel rock solid about his starting offensive line, particularly that right guard spot. But whether any solve(s) are seen as residing in-house should be answered in relatively short order. 


Kelly likely endeared himself to old heads in Buckeye Nation when he opened the spring game with an old-school Woody Hayes-style Robust T formation featuring Henderson, Judkins and tight end/fullback Pat Gurd in the backfield behind Howard. 

The set also offered two tight ends it what Kelly called a "little bit of a tribute to Coach Hayes."

While the novelty of the formation, featuring added flair as the players spun out of their initial positions to align in the T, gave a nod to Hayes, Kelly also noted he used the T formation 21 times last season at UCLA. 

We'll see if the Buckeyes actually roll with the Robust T to get Henderson and Judkins on the field at the same time in short-yardage situations but it did seem like Kelly was serious about keeping it in the playbook when real games begin. 

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