After a five-month hiatus from organized practices, the Buckeyes are back together on the practice field.
With a Sept. 3 meeting with Illinois on the horizon, Ohio State began its fall camp preparation Thursday. While different than any camp before it, head coach Ryan Day expressed confidence in how Ohio State was handling fall camp and emphasized the importance of adapting and living in the moment.
“We feel great about training camp in terms of where we are at with our testing and the way that we are handling our protocols and procedures, so that part of it we feel great about,” Day said in a Zoom conference with media members.
Thanks to Ohio State’s response to the pandemic, Day said that he felt comfortable with starting fall training camp Thursday. However, he did not share that same sense of comfort with playing games at this point.
“I am very comfortable with what we have going on here going into training camp,” Day said. “I would say right now, we’re not quite ready to play a game yet. But, I know the Big Ten and the commissioner’s office is working really, really hard to put those details together so that we can feel strong.”
In order to effectively follow social distancing guidelines, Day laid out two practice models that Ohio State will be following: split-squad — in which the team is split up into multiple groups — and a full-team practice. Day said that the team went through a split-squad practice Thursday, but that they will convene together as a full team on Friday.
“There’s good reason to do both,” Day said. “When you do a split-squad, you get a little thin across the board. When you come together, you have to do a great job of spacing everyone out on the field based on all the protocols.”
Although practices will still have full contact, Day said that the team has followed numerous guidelines to keep the practices as clean as possible such as strict testing protocols and the use of disinfectants and face guards.
“I think that the testing protocol is the number one thing in making sure you have a clean practice,” Day said. “As we’ve headed into practice, we’ve worn the gators, we’ve worn the gloves, we disinfect as fast we can with the pads and those types of things.”
While there have been precautions taken to ensure camp is being handled in a safe manner, Day also stressed that football is still a contact sport and there will be situations where players will be in close proximity with one another.
“We’re going to try and limit that amount of contact we can have — certainly taking guys to the ground, but it is a contact sport,” Day said. “So we try to limit it the best we can, but at the end of the day, there is going to be blocking and there is going to be tackling.”
Day said that the players are also not required to wear masks while wearing helmets, but he also said the team has been experimenting with different face shields that could potentially be worn during competition.
“We have several different models that we’re looking at and that the guys have an option to use at practice, and we’re getting their feedback on those things,” Day said.
Day said that some players have raised concerns about the ventilation of the face shields and that the feedback is helpful for figuring out what is best for each player.
While a decision on the season itself is still looming, Day is focused on taking things one day at a time.
“As hard as that is, for the coaches included, we are really challenging each other to stay focused on today, maximizing the day and then we’ll wake up in the morning and see what comes.”