COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s spring football practice is within five days of ending with Saturday’s spring game, but coach Ryan Day would do it all over again if he could.
With almost no spring practice last season, a delayed start to a shortened season and players missing game and practice time, all because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio State is still operating with what Day calls “a deficiency of development across the board.”
“We’re playing catch-up, we just are,” Day said Monday on a Zoom call. “We’ve got to get better in the fundamentals and techniques of playing. The more we can play the better off we’ll be.
“I wish we had another 15 practices in May. But we don’t. When we get through finals and guys kind of rest up a little bit, we jump into the summer. We have to hit the ground running. We can’t lose any days, any weeks as we head into August.”
Saturday’s spring game, which will be played in front of around 19,000 people at Ohio Stadium, will be more like a practice than a game, as usual, only maybe with slightly more emphasis on the earlier mentioned fundamentals and techniques.
“I think the plan right now, and a lot of it has to do with injuries and guys being sick or whatever, is we’re going to break up the team into Scarlet and Gray at least for a half of football. Whether we tackle or not, that is yet to be determined. Then we may need to get some guys out of there and go with a little bit more of a controlled scrimmage atmosphere in the second half,” Day said.
All three of the quarterbacks competing for the starting job — redshirt freshmen C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller and freshman Kyle McCord — will be off limits for contact.
As he has done all spring, Day offered few specifics about the quarterbacks.
“Guys have had good days, guys have had not so good days, they’ve had good reps (repetitions) and not so good reps. That’s what happens when you have young quarterbacks. There is a lot to improve on with all three guys,” he said.
“The minute you think one guy is taking a step forward he does something foolish and then somebody else will make a play and then they’re coming on and it flips the other way. But that is expected. You know that going in. There has been good progress there but there’s still a long way to go.”
Some other thoughts from Day:
— Sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who caught 10 passes last season, needs to take “the next step.”
“He had a good year last year but now he’s got to take the next step. He can do so many great things, he just needs to be more consistent. We’re excited about this year. He has had a good, solid spring. Now he needs to have a great summer so he can have a great preseason going into the year,” Day said.
“I think he’s really coming on, he’s done a nice job blocking on the perimeter. We’re excited to see where it goes and hoping he takes the next step.”
— Freshman wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. is a hard worker.
“He has a lot of discipline, an excellent attention to detail on his routes, he’s somebody who cares a lot. He’s here after hours, he’s here early in the morning. He takes a lot of pride in his work and he’s making plays. He’s a freshman who has a long way to go but early impressions have been excellent,” Day said.
— Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson has a bright future.
“He’s still really young, he didn’t play football last year. He has done a good job. He has a good attitude, he has a good work ethic. He has done everything right so far,” Day said. “He still has to play and learn every day. He needs a million reps but the talent is there, the work ethic is there. I think he’s going to have a really bright future here.”