Ohio State opened the 2019 preseason with a roughly two-hour practice Friday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Here are five takeaways from what coach Ryan Day saw when the fifth-ranked Buckeyes took the practice field for the first time.
1. They tried to keep things light to start out.
“It was good to get everybody out there, start football again,” Day said. “It’s all helmets today. We were kind of on and off quick. It’s more about effort. It’s about technique. It’s about those kind of things. Not about winning or losing today. There will be time for that when the pads go on.”
2. He feels good about the offensive line, but one important player’s status remains uncertain.
Thayer Munford, who missed the spring with an unidentified injury, appeared to be working with the second unit during the brief period of time reporters were allowed to watch practice.
That is surprising as he is the only returning full-year starter from 2018, but it might not mean much in the long run.
Day, who said last month he does not plan to get specific when it comes to injuries, did not shed a lot of light on the situation but hinted Munford will be worked back in slowly.
“Everybody was out there that we thought would be,” Day said. “Some guys are in different points of their rehab, but we’re going to roll those guys up front (on the offensive line). Especially the first few days, some guys are going to rep with the ones, some with the twos. Some are on a pitch count with volume control to make sure we can ease them back into practice. You’ll see a lot of guys running with the 1s and 2s. As camp goes on, it will be more solidified.”
To begin, the No. 1 line had senior Josh Alabi at left tackle with Miamisburg native Josh Myers at center, Rutgers transfer Jonah Jackson at left guard, sophomore Wyatt Davis at right guard and redshirt freshman Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle.
RELATED: Myers ready for bigger role
3. Day is still not planning to name a quarterback soon, but he liked what he saw from Kentucky transfer Gunnar Hoak.
A Dublin native who announced his transfer plans after spring practice ended, Hoak got to work in front of Day in a real practice for the first time.
“In a short period of time, I think he kind of picked up the offense pretty quick,” Day said. “I think he can diagnose and see the field, kind of has a good feel for it. That was a positive.
“I thought he kind of moved the ball around pretty good today, made good decisions. Once he gets more reps under his belt, I think he’ll get more and more comfortable, play with more confidence.”
Although Georgia transfer Justin Fields is considered the front-runner to be the starter, Day wants to make sure Hoak and senior Chris Chugunov compete with him and are ready to go if called up.
4. Day expects the offense to be ahead of the defense at this point.
Although nine starters return on defense and only four are back on offense, the former group is still learning a new defense installed in the spring by a mostly new coaching staff.
“I feel good about where we are schematically right now,” Day said. “Now we just got to put it on the field, kind of see what schemes best fit our personnel. Sometimes you make assumptions coming out of the spring. It’s more about individual development.
“In preseason, you put your team together, figure out where you are as a unit and team. You make assumptions thinking you’re going to be one way. As it goes along, you figure out maybe we need to go down this road. That’s what these next new weeks are all about.”
5. He’s happy with the upgrades to the football facility.
After the viewing window of practice ended, reporters were allowed to walk through the new parts of the renovated Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
They include a basketball court, lounge, arcade and barbershop.
RELATED: See photos of the updates
“Unbelievable,” Day said. “The new addition is huge for us. It’s really catapulting us in recruiting, which is really important. We say we give and create an environment which is one of the best in the country in terms of taking care of a student-athlete on the field, off the field, like everything here, emotionally and socially.
“With something like that, it’s huge. Guys come in here, they can spend all day, play arcade games, shoot baskets, play on the golf simulator, they can recover on the (cryogenic recovery chamber). We want them to feel like this is their home.”
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