COLUMBUS — Ohio State football is holding its first major scrimmage of the spring Saturday.
Unlike just about every similar event in the past decade or so, all of it will be open to the media.
Reporters will have some limitations on what specifically can be shared — similar to guidelines from NFL practices that forbid sharing strategic information such as formations and pass patterns — but it should offer some valuable insights generally not available to outsiders.
In the most basic sense, that means seeing how new starters and newcomers look running, catching, blocking and tackling along with who is where on the depth chart and which side of the ball wins the line of scrimmage.
Ryan Day gets to see all those things every day, so on Saturday he will be looking for something else.
The head coach of the Buckeyes wants to see winners and losers.
“We’re trying to find as many ways that we can to create a winner or loser situation,” Day said. “We’re starting in practice right after stretching with winner/loser situations. As the pads go on, we’re going to find as many ways as possible to do that because I think we all work hard, and working hard gives us a chance, but the difference between that and competing is there’s a winner and a loser every time you compete.
“How many times can we put them in competitive situations to go play? And that’s what we’re trying to do, whether it’s in a position drills, or as an offensive or defensive rep.”
Game-like situations are a major theme of the spring at Ohio State.
That is because the Buckeyes are looking for a new starting quarterback between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown, breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Brian Hartline and looking to get back to winning when it matters most — at the end of the season.
“We will probably put a game plan together and see how it goes,” Day said.
He downplayed the idea Hartline getting to call plays in the scrimmage would be a big deal, but he did share something he wants to see from the quarterbacks.
“I’ve been talking to our guys about making the routine plays routinely,” Day said. “With our (receivers and running backs) and the skill that we have, we don’t need extraordinary stuff. We need people to take care of the football. If the first read is there, take it. If not, work on two and three and then have a plan from there. Make good decisions on the running game, take care of the football and lead the offense.”
Those are things he can see in any practice, but the scrimmage should offer opportunities to do more for players to separate themselves.
“You don’t really know until you get into a game how that works, but we’re going to try this with these next couple of weeks to try to get some game-type situations and get that going.”
Third downs and plays in the red zone figure to loom large.
“A big part of it right now in the first 10 practices is installing and fundamentals, and then we try to start playing the game more,” Day said. “You need to work on red zone and third down and short yardage, those type of situations. It’s harder to get into those type of game situations.
“The best you can do is just kind of get out there and call it and just see what happens and try to change the situation the best you can but you don’t quite really get a feel for it until you’re in the game.”
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