COLUMBUS — That wasn’t exactly business as usual as Ohio State, but it felt close enough.
Obviously Urban Meyer was missing again from training camp on Tuesday morning, the fourth practice of August for the Buckeyes as they gear up to defend the Big Ten title this season. But all the position coaches went about their normal routines, the energy and music were cranked up like normal and Ohio State showed no signs of being distracted at all by the investigation swirling around its coach during the portion of the workout open to the media.
Clearly Meyer’s absence was notable, and it will continue to be until the situation is resolved. But the Buckeyes were able to focus solely on football, and even at this early stage of camp, that produced a handful of notable developments.
Tuf Borland might be superhuman
Ohio State has been suggesting for a while that Tuf Borland would be back sooner than anybody anticipated from the Achilles injury he suffered in the spring, but it was hard to fully buy into that knowing just how severe those issues tend to be. But the middle linebacker was not only on the field participating and showing few signs of pain, Borland was also in the mix for some drills flying around with speed while working with the first-team defense. It’s important to keep in mind that the Buckeyes still haven’t been in full pads yet, so the true tests of his availability for the Silver Bullets might not be coming until Wednesday. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t remarkable to see Borland in action again at this stage, and it makes it more clear than ever that he should be helping Ohio State this season.
Center battle gets more interesting for Ohio State
The pecking order wasn’t likely going to change in the first week for one of the most critical position battles on the Ohio State roster. Brady Taylor and Josh Myers remain the top contenders for the center job, but they might be facing a somewhat unexpected challenge in the form of Michael Jordan. The two-year starter at guard was working through the rotation as a snapper on Tuesday morning, and given his credentials and proven ability to acclimate quickly, he can’t be ruled out as a factor now in that race. With the rise of Demetrius Knox and the return of a healthy Branden Bowen, moving Jordan might be a possible solution that helps Ohio State accomplish its goal of putting the five best offensive linemen on the field regardless of positions. That key position will continue to bear monitoring for the Buckeyes.
Ryan Day keeps focus on Ohio State quarterbacks
The acting head coach at Ohio State didn’t appear to be trying to do anything to emulate Urban Meyer during the open periods of practice. Ryan Day wasn’t floating around from position to position, the structure of the workout all looked the same — and he kept his attention on the quarterbacks, just like usual. The coaching staff appeared to be treating the practice just like any other, and for Day that meant keeping a close eye on the passers. Dwayne Haskins looked sharp while working on some throws to the running backs, and Tate Martell was right behind him in every line. Matthew Baldwin didn’t have any chances to show off the health of his surgically-repaired knee by running around much, but the true freshman flashed some arm strength and certainly looks like he can spin the football.
Brian Hartline gets hands-on with Zone 6
The drill looked like it might have been conceived just an obstacle course, and it certainly didn’t look fun for the Ohio State wide receivers. But with interim wide receivers coach Brian Hartline working up a sweat right alongside his unit and showing NFL-caliber moves himself, it was hard not to be impressed with the reps those veteran targets got early in practice. Coming off the snap, the Buckeyes had to step over a bag, duck until a hurdle and then get around a dummy that served as a defender before making a catch — and that was just essentially part of the warmup before team periods. Zone 6 has obviously undergone some recent changes, but Hartline looks a coach who can help take the Buckeyes to another level.