It’s a new ‘Day’ at the ‘Shoe for Ohio State football

Harold Hamilton

It’s going to be a new “Day” at The ‘Shoe this fall in more ways than one. I can’t wait.
Last Saturday, a crowd of 61,100 fans saw their Ohio State Buckeyes try to premier a new football team, new strategy and some coaching changes at the annual spring game.
If you believed all the pregame talk over the last few weeks you may have been disappointed by the end of the day.
One of the highlights was supposed to be the competition between the new quarterbacks, Justin Fields, a five-star transfer from Georgia, and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin.
Maybe their poor performance was due to nerves, lack of experience or maybe it was poor wide receivers. Whatever it was, it needs some serious repair.
In first-year coach Ryan Day’s press conference, he was positive, but he did admit his team is a work in progress and needs considerably more development. He did say that the spring training went excellent, however.
There was a no tackling rule at the game which Coach Day called it “pass and thud”. For the black-shirted (meaning no contact) quarterbacks it was more like pass and hug. There were a few times when the auditioning quarterbacks ran the ball if they couldn’t find an open receiver. It was nice to see a runner in that position again, even though, considering the no-contact rules, it was easy to be brave.
I did not like what I saw Saturday. Fields was not close to his pregame hype as he frequently overthrew his receivers.  Baldwin was more on target and probably played a better game. I will point out, however, that neither got much help from their receivers as there were many dropped balls.
Baldwin got more playing time, passed for more yards and had the higher completion percentage at a very poor 55 percent.  I did not see the young outstanding talent that has been present in past spring games.
When Day was asked at the press conference about the new quarterbacks’ skills, he again stuck to his previous comments that each had their unique talents, but he sees no overall separation between them at this time. That is a smart move, why not continue the challenge and keep them working extra hard over the summer trying to be the fall starter.
With the new quarterback situation little attention was paid to the offensive line that needs to replace four players. Junior running back J. K. Dobbins ran hard but not often. Hopefully, over the summer, he will get back to the outstanding back he was two years ago.
Garrett Wilson, a five-star freshman from Texas, was one of two new players to have black tape over the red center helmet stripe removed and you could see why. He is going to be a great receiving target. The black stripe signifies that the player wearing it has not yet proven himself worthy of being a “Buckeye” and getting your black tape removed is a big deal.
The other player to prove himself worthy was Zach Harrison, the only active true freshman on the first team.
Day is only 40-years-old and has rapidly risen to this, his first head coaching job. It’s unbelievable that his first opportunity is at Ohio State, one of the premier jobs in the college ranks. He appears to have the talents with a strong background.
Day moved rapidly through the college ranks getting increasingly more responsibility and then as an assistant and quarterback coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. He worked under Urban Meyer early in his career at Florida and then Meyer brought him in as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in 2017 at Ohio State.
Day did such a good job that he was selected to be interim head coach over some of the veterans for the three games that Meyer was suspended at the beginning of last year. Then, just after the Rose Bowl, when Meyer had decided to quit, it seemed to be a no-brainer to have Day take the reins.
Day lost no time in adjusting his staff. Many of the past weaknesses were addressed such as the offensive line, pass protection and the defense. Day brought in a new defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, who was responsible for building the nation’s No. 2 defense at Michigan last year. He also stole Michigan’s linebacker coach Al Washington, and made other adjustments to his remaining staff.
Urban Meyer was to be the highest paid public-school football coach in the nation at $7.6 million, according to USA Today. Day will make a reported $4.6 million. Day’s assistant coaches will also be treated well as five of the 10 will make close to $1 million and another three will get close to $500,000.
With that kind of compensation, the Buckeye Nation will expect few errors and that the team be in the thick of the playoffs this fall. Day said he is going to “simplify” the offense and concentrate on a “fast and simple” style. Remember Alabama and Clemson? Speed kills.


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