Ohio State football: Ryan Day likes what he sees from defense, offensive line

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day was in good spirits Tuesday when he greeted the media for the second time this preseason.

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Here are five things to know from his post-practice press conference:

1. Day did not have an update on the quarterback competition.

But he was happy with what he has seen so far from Georgia transfer Justin Fields, the perceived favorite to win the job.

“Still too early, but Justin had a really good practice two days ago and flashed a little bit.”

Fields appeared to be the No. 1 quarterback during drills conducted during the brief window of practice that was open to the media, ahead of Kentucky transfer Gunnar Hoak and senior Chris Chugunov.

2. The defense had a good day.

The quarterbacks apparently helped the defense on Tuesday, tossing four interceptions according to the head coach.

“That was really good to see,” said Day, attributing two picks to sophomore Josh Proctor and another to senior Jordan Fuller. “They’re flying to the ball. They’re making plays on the ball. They’re playing with vision, and they’re producing right now. And so there’s a lot of energy that way.

“I think there’s a good attitude, leadership up front, and then the linebackers are really working on being tough, creating an edge. We’ve got to be tough. We’ve got to tackle. And so I do, I see that. I think it’s a hungry group, but again, you really don’t know until you start playing games, but there’s a lot of positive momentum right now.”

3. Good vibes continued to flow from the offensive line.

A position group that entered year with uncertainty, the front line seems to have solidified in the eyes of the head coach.

He praised Miamisburg native Josh Myers, a sophomore who has moved into the starting role at center, and shared satisfaction with the look of freshmen Harry Miller, Dawand Jones and Enokk Vimahi.

“We want to recruit big guys who are athletic, and I think when you look at offensive linemen nowadays, you see very athletic guys,” Day said. “Even the big guys. A great example is the three guys that we just brought in this year. Harry Miller, very athletic. You look at him, he’s over 300 pounds, but he’s very, very athletic and lean. Enokk Vimahi came in at 257 pounds, he’s now 293 if you can believe that. In two months he’s put on that much weight. Very, very athletic. And then Dawand Jones, if you look at Dawand Jones, he’s 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, but he’s not — I know it sounds crazy, but he’s not a sloppy-looking guy. He’s put together. He needs to lose weight, but they’re all very, very good athletes.”

4. The front line also had a different look from Friday.

Myers was flanked by guard Jonah Jackson and Wyatt Davis on Tuesday, but Thayer Munford began practice at left tackle while Branden Bowen was the right tackle.

That was a change from the open viewing window on the first day of practice when senior Josh Alabi was in Munford’s place and redshirt freshman Nicholas Petit-Frere manned the right side.

Those seven players figure to compete all month for the right to start the season-opener against Florida Atlantic on Aug. 31.

5. When it comes time to tackle, Day knows they have a line to walk between being too physical and not physical enough.

“We just have to be very careful about our tackling,” Day said after his team practiced in helmets and shoulder pads Tuesday. “Now, we’re going to do a tackle drill every time we have full pads on. Now, are we allowed to take guys to the ground every day? No, but we’re going to try to when we have full pads on. But in our team drills, we still really don’t take many people to the ground. We have to be really smart about that. You only get so many shots.

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“So finding the right balance of how many times do we tackle, how many times do we not tackle and being a good tackling team, that’s the balance, and when I talk to some of my other guys that I know who are head coaches and colleagues, that’s the million-dollar question, and we’ll do the best we can with it and try to teach it every day. There will be some certain times where we’ll do some drills that will be live to make sure the right guys are in there to see if they can tackle and see if they can break tackles but also being smart.”

6. His predecessor was on hand.

Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s coach from November 2011 until Jan. 1, was among the attendees to practice for the first time this preseason.

Asked if Meyer might have been frustrated as a mere spectator, Day said, “I don’t know. I don’t know… I know his golf game is going good, and he seems happy.”

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