COLUMBUS — Ohio State still has months of preparation ahead of it before the season starts, and there isn’t a shortage of work still to accomplish.
But the first spring under Ryan Day is already at the halfway point, and the urgency is picking up.
The Buckeyes wrapped up workout No. 7 on Wednesday morning, which puts them at the midway mark of the scheduled practices before capping the camp with the annual exhibition game in the Horseshoe on April 13. And while the coaching staff isn’t tipping its hand on many position battles, there are plenty of signs that the depth chart is at least starting to take some shape.
“Spring is going good so far,” co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley said. “Guys are working, competing. The energy is awesome. I think both sides are doing a really good job right now.
“The best thing I see is that guys are getting better every day. We just keep talking about technique, technique, technique. And the great part about these guys is that they’re just buying into everything you tell them. I mean, they are trying it, they’re coming out and asking questions, they’re learning and coaching each other. Just the improvement in the overall technique, that’s what spring is about. This is about creating the culture, playing with great energy and getting better with fundamentals and technique. That’s ultimately going to win or lose the games.”
Of course, the Buckeyes keep track of wins and losses for every drill all year long, so the results on the practice already carry weight within the program. But from the outside, Ohio State still has plenty of time before it has to nail down the two-deep roster, pick a starting quarterback or install a final game plan.
For Hafley, that still gives him time to help tinker with the defense as the revamped coaching staff works to get the Silver Bullets back on track. And for an assistant like wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, that allows him the chance to work on replacing the leadership he lost with three seniors now preparing for the NFL Draft instead of pacing his unit in drills at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“It’s definitely different,” Hartline said. “That’s why when they left, I cried — literally. One, from a culture standpoint and a relationship standpoint just how we had got to know each other. And I’m sure I’m going to do that again this year.
“But we’re developing right now, and it’s a lot of fun. If you try to take yourself back to where we were last spring when Dwayne [Haskins] was coming in and those guys were trying to enhance things, it’s very similar to some guys I have now. But I feel like we’re really far ahead. We’re doing a really good job and doing some really good things, and we’re only going to get better.”
There is still plenty that can be done with seven more practices for the Buckeyes, of course.
But the midway point creeped up in a hurry at Ohio State, and the pressure to get even more done is about to get ramped up over the next two weeks.
Ohio State wide receivers and defensive backs chatted with the media after practice on Wednesday morning. Ohio State coaches Brian Hartline, Jeff Hafley and Matt Barnes were joined by a handful of their players to update the progress, and full video interviews with the Buckeyes will be updated here and on the Lettermen Row YouTube channel.