4 takeaways from Ryan Day's Ohio State football press conference

Ohio State’s spring football game is three days away, and anticipation for it is higher than usual.

The Buckeyes have a loaded roster but have enough questions and new faces to make Saturday’s scrimmage at Ohio Stadium compelling. OSU coach Ryan Day gave an assessment Wednesday of how March and April have gone for his team and what he wants to see on Saturday.

Here are four takeaways from his press conference:

Mar 7, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day watches players stretch during spring football practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Mar 7, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day watches players stretch during spring football practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

The Ohio State quarterback battle continues

When Will Howard arrived from Kansas State as a graduate transfer, the assumption was that he would be the starter. That could well be the case, but it’s not the lock it once seemed.

More: Ohio State football winter transfer tracker 2024: Latest portal news, updates

Junior Devin Brown has looked impressive in the few practices reporters have been permitted to watch. A buzz has developed around freshman Julian Sayin, a five-star addition to the recruiting class after leaving Alabama following Nick Saban’s retirement.

“No, I don’t think we’ve narrowed it down,” Day said of the quarterback battle, “but you’re seeing guys making certain plays and certain things that are showing up in practice.

“These guys bring great things to the table. Each guy brings either experience or a skill set that’s different than the others.”

More: Ohio State football's five highest-attended spring games

One skill Day sees in all of them is running ability, something that’s been mostly lacking the last three seasons with pocket passers C.J. Stroud and Kyle McCord.

“You’re seeing some separation,” Day said. “I wouldn’t say I’m ready to name a starter or anything like that, but there’s been good competition, and guys have made plays. But ultimately what we’re looking for is the consistency over time.”

Ohio State offensive line remains unsettled

While Josh Simmons and Donovan Jackson are set on the left side of the offensive line, the other three spots haven’t been cemented.

Day said he is pleased with the play of incumbent Carson Hinzman and Alabama transfer Seth McLaughlin at center. Josh Fryar, who played right tackle last year, looks like a lock to start again, but he’s also seeing some time at guard.

“Josh Fryar has really changed his body,” Day said. “His body fat is down. His diet, we really hammered this offseason. I think that’s significant in how quickly his feet are moving. He’s sharp in what he’s doing, and he’s bending better.”

Sophomore Luke Montgomery has taken many of the first-team reps at right guard. Tegra Tshabola is also competing but is more of a natural tackle. If the Buckeyes believe Tshabola is one of the five best linemen, Fryar could move inside.

Defense looked primed

Ohio State had an elite defense last year, and with most of its core returning and the addition of star safety Caleb Downs from Alabama it should be even better.

When Day was asked who on defense was giving the OSU offense the most fits, he quipped, “Jim Knowles.”

Knowles is the third-year coordinator, and Day believes the defense is more in sync than ever.

“I think the coverage and the rush is working together,” he said.

Day said he’s pleased with the development of Sonny Styles, Cody Simon, C.J. Hicks, Gabe Powers and Arvell Reese at linebacker and how the defensive backs are aggressive and getting hands on balls.

But he said he’s probably most encouraged by the way the interior of the defensive line has created havoc in the backfield.

“All of those things add up, and it’s not easy on the offensive side,” Day said.

Day not expecting exodus of transfers

Running back Dallan Hayden is expected to enter the transfer portal when it opens next week. Day wouldn’t confirm that Wednesday, nor did he deny it.

“We’re going to keep all those conversations private and wait till next week to talk about it,” he said.

But Day does not expect a flood of players to transfer after spring practice.

“I feel we have a team that is coming together for a common purpose,” he said. “We talk about, ‘Why do you play so hard here at Ohio State?’ It’s because of the brotherhood, the love of your teammates. I think we have a good room that way.

“I think guys want to be here. They understand what it means to be a Buckeye. They see the opportunity this season, so I don’t see a bunch of guys that are just looking to run out of the door.”

He said he expects a few players to leave because that’s typical, but the expansion of the College Football Playoff to 12 teams means depth is more needed than ever. Day plans to use play backups more this year to keep starters fresh, which can be an inducement for them to stay.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ryan Day gives update ahead of Ohio State football spring game