One week into training camp, Ohio State football has few pressing questions

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

One week into training camp, Ohio State is in a rare position.

Many teams at this point aren’t close to resolving their biggest question marks. The Buckeyes don’t even have many question marks.

It’s much different than last year, when Ohio State hadn’t settled on its quarterback, running back and most of the back seven on defense.

How many starting spots are now up for grabs?

“Probably just a handful,” coach Ryan Day said Thursday.

Even that’s a stretch.

Aug 5, 2022; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day during practice at Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio on August 5, 2022.

On offense, quarterback C.J. Stroud and running back TreVeyon Henderson are the established starters. The offensive line appears set with Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones at left and right tackles, Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones at left and right guard, and Luke Wypler at center.

Ohio State depth chart:Center Luke Wypler is "heartbeat" of offensive line.

At wide receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the headliner, but Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka look poised to become stars, with Julian Fleming and Kam Babb among those who should see significant snaps. Babb, who has had four ACL injuries, has missed time with what Day said was a “tweak,” but is expected back within a couple of days.

Aug 5, 2022; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day talks to Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Dawand Jones (79) during practice at Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio on August 5, 2022.

“I think that we'll have a good rotation of guys out there,” Day said of the receivers. “I appreciate their physicality on the perimeter and their professionalism day in and day out.”

The only real question mark is tight end, and Day doesn’t seem worried about that position pulling its weight.

“Those guys are doing a good job, and you're starting to start to really see what that's going to look like,” Day said. “It’s really good to see the way Cade (Stover) and Mitch (Rossi) and some of the guys have really worked to ... be guys you can rely on to do their job.”

On defense, the back seven looks set. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said Tuesday that Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg have solidified their spots at linebacker.

In the secondary, Tanner McAlister, Ronnie Hickman and Josh Proctor are the safeties. Denzel Burke and Cameron Brown are the likely cornerbacks. Brown, whose OSU career has been beset by injuries, is being eased in this camp.

It’s largely irrelevant who’s going to start on the defensive line because the Buckeyes are exceptionally deep there. Seniors Zach Harrison, Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Tyler Friday will be in a group at defensive end that will include sophomores J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer. The interior linemen are also a mix of veterans like Taron Vincent and Jerron Cage and younger players such as Tyleik Williams, Mike Hall Jr. and Ty Hamilton. Day said he has seen signs that the defensive line can be dominant.

Depth at certain spots remains an issue. The most pressing right now is at cornerback because several players, including Jordan Hancock, are out. But Day said that none of those injuries is a long-term one.

Ohio State injury news:LB Cody Simon says he's healthy after shoulder surgery.

Day said he's pleased with Knowles and the way his staff is implementing a new scheme. That has freed Day to concentrate mostly on offense. When asked if there was anything that keeps him awake at night about his offense, Day replied, “Not one thing."

That could be interpreted to mean not only one thing or it could mean not anything. Day indicated it was closer to the latter.

“It’s not even concerns,” he said. “It’s just how fast can we get better? How much better can we get? It’s just the fundamentals, hand placement, pad level, protection, running the football, execution in the pass game.”

That doesn’t mean Ohio State is ready for its opener Sept. 3 against Notre Dame. Day said the Buckeyes have plenty of work to do before that.

The Buckeyes have been in pads for only a few days. The first big test of camp will be Saturday when OSU has a scrimmage. Perhaps that will reveal some issues that appear more pressing than they are now.

But one week into camp, Day is clearly comfortable with the state of his team.

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