Ryan Day is still pleased with the energy of Ohio State through the first five practices of the spring.
The head coach said he challenged the team during Thursday’s practice to be tough, leading to what he described as one of the best inside drills he had seen.
“Guys were really getting after it,” Day said. “There were paint chips flying off of helmets, getting after it.”
But there are still questions to be answered ahead of Day’s first spring game as the Ohio State head coach.
On offense, he said there are many guys without experience, watching as two quarterbacks who had both been a high school starter prior, take reps to be the player behind center at the start of the season.
Through the first five practices, Day has been impressed with the progress both quarterbacks — sophomore Justin Fields and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin — have made.
“We are kind of in that mode of finding a new quarterback,” Day said. “In the short amount of time, they are taking their reps seriously. Not every play is perfect, it’s the third day in pads, so we are still in install mode, installing plays.”
Day said both Baldwin and Fields have shown poise at the quarterback position, responding to plays or calls they may have been hearing for the first or second time.
The head coach described Fields as “a quick learner,” saying that, despite the fact there is a long way to go in terms of his progress, the Georgia transfer is moving the offense.
Moving forward, Day said both Fields and Baldwin will continue to split reps with the first-team offense.
On the offensive line, redshirt senior Branden Bowen practiced at left tackle Saturday as redshirt senior tackle Joshua Alabi was sidelined with flu-like symptoms.
Day said Bowen’s ability to play at both guard and tackle on the line is not easy, and is valuable.
“He’s been very versatile though, and that’s very important to have guys who can jump around like that,” Day said.
With Bowen’s move to the left tackle position Saturday, redshirt freshman Nicholas Petit-Frere fan as the first-team right tackle. Day said Petit-Frere has shown growth, specifically growing into his body on the line.
For the Ohio State defense, both junior linebacker Baron Browning and redshirt junior linebacker Tuf Borland were kept out of practice Saturday. Both injuries— Browning with a hamstring injury and Borland with a right knee injury — were viewed as precautionary.
In their absence, Ohio State had sophomore linebacker Teradja Mitchell, senior linebacker Malik Harrison and junior linebacker running with the first-team defense.
Day also confirmed Saturday that freshman wide receiver L’Christian Smith has voluntarily left the football program, saying he will stay on scholarship until the end of the semester.