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Fall Practice Insider: Disruptive Defensive Line Making Things Difficult

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State football team is in the middle of an immensely important quarterback battle but the Buckeye defensive line doesn’t seem to care.

Imagine trying to perform a delicate surgery but every time you start to go in with the scalpel you are being chased out of the operating room by a bunch of disorderlies. That’s what much of Friday’s practice looked like for the Ohio State quarterbacks.

Junior Kyle McCord and redshirt freshman Devin Brown again split reps with the first team, which also meant that they also split reps with the second team. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Mike Hall continues to display a unique burst that is even more disruptive against the second-team offensive line.

There was a series of snaps where McCord was working with the second offensive line, but facing the likes of Hall and defensive end JT Tuimoloau. Redshirt freshman defensive end Kenyatta Jackson also looked very fast rushing the quarterback. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Hero Kanu also had a couple of disruptive plays in 11-on-11 against the second-team offensive line.

Overall, McCord appeared to have the better day. He was more aggressive in pushing the ball downfield. Brown kept things shorter and in the flats. He was definitely able to escape pressure at times, which the coaching staff continues to love.

McCord was also able to escape pressure. On one of those escapes, McCord rolled left and heaved a pass downfield to senior receiver Julian Fleming in one-on-one coverage. Fleming got behind junior cornerback Denzel Burke, and it looked like a big gain was coming. Instead, Burke was able to catch up to the throw and break up what would have been a 40-yard gain.

No, It’s Not Time To Panic

The Ohio State offensive line is still trying to find their five best players and which order they want them. On Friday, redshirt sophomore transfer Josh “Jimmy” Simmons was at left tackle, while fourth-year junior Josh Fryar was at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman was with the ones throughout practice.

First, let’s address the Simmons name situation. He is one of three Joshes in the offensive line room, so to keep things clear in practice and the facility, he’s going by “Jimmy.” To everyone else, however, feel free to continue calling him Josh.

Right now, it is looking like this will be the top five barring any big moves. On Wednesday, head coach Ryan Day said that Louisiana-Monroe transfer Vic Cutler was challenging Hinzman for the starting job at center. More will be known in that regard following Saturday’s first scrimmage of camp.

Hinzman did have a bad snap to McCord in 11-on-11, but McCord picked the ball up quickly off the ground and found receiver Marvin Harrison for a short gain on the left sideline.

Day would like the offensive line settled following Saturday. There have been many hoping that Simmons would be able to come in and win the left tackle job, which would allow Fryar to move to the right side where he has experience and has played well in limited opportunities.

Redshirt freshman Tegra Tshabola was the No. 2 left tackle and redshirt freshman Luke Montgomery was the No. 2 right tackle.

It always takes an offensive line time to gel, so the sooner they can get their top five in the order they want them, the stronger they can get as a unit over these final three weeks of practice.

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Emptying The Notebook

  • Some of the missing Buckeyes today were running back Miyan Williams, defensive tackle Tyleik Williams, and freshman safety Jayden Bonsu. Bonsu and Tyleik Williams were on the indoor field working on their own. Tyleik Williams went down with a knee injury in the first practice of camp last week and was able to stay on the field, but did not participate in any kind of contact drills. Miyan Williams was “unavailable for practice” today per an OSU spokesman.
  • The Buckeyes repping at punt returner today were Emeka Egbuka, Jayden Ballard, Brandon Inniss, and Marvin Harrison, Jr.
  • Freshman linebacker Arvell Reese was working with the defensive line today. He is already listed at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds. Many projected him to defensive end a couple of years ago. This could also be a precursor to him getting a look at the hybrid linebacker/defensive end Jack position.
  • This was the eighth practice of camp. There are 17 more to come. Saturday will be the team’s first scrimmage. It will take place at the WHAC.
  • Senior running back Chip Trayanum was repping ahead of sophomore Dallan Hayden on the day. Junior TreVeyon Henderson continues to look good out in space.
  • Sonny Styles and freshman safety Malik Hartford were both in green jerseys, likely indicating limited contact. Both players still participated in every aspect of practice. One particular piece of participation saw Kyle McCord find freshman receiver Brandon Inniss down the seam for a deep shot with Hartford and Styles in coverage.
  • Malik Hartford was working with the twos at free safety today. Senior Josh Proctor was with the threes. Sophomore Kye Stokes was the No. 2 strong safety behind starter Lathan Ransom.
  • The top three safeties were again senior Ja’Had Carter at free safety, Ransom at strong, and Sonny Styles at nickel. The No. 2 nickel was fourth-year junior Cam Martinez. Martinez had a solid day which included a PBU against Devin Brown. Styles also had a breakup, getting a hand on a comeback route against McCord.
  • Denzel Burke had a breakup of a pass from freshman Lincoln Kienholz. It was intended for Jayden Ballard down the field, but Burke made a nice play and knocked the pass down.
  • Kienholz completed a pass deep down the sideline to walk-on David Adolph with freshman cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt in coverage. A few plays later, Kienholz went back to Adolph on the sideline but the pass bounced off of his hands and Simpson-Hunt grabbed it out of the air for an interception.
  • The catch of the day came from freshman Noah Rogers. It was either an out route or a comeback route to the right side. Kienholz’s throw was low, but Rogers was able to reach down below his knees and catch it one-handed, and looking like a shortstop.
  • Redshirt freshman receiver Kyion Grayes had some nice catches on the sideline today, including one from Oregon State transfer Tristan Gebbia.
  • Overall, this was not the crispest practice you’ll ever see. There were some drops. Running the ball is hit and miss because there was no tackling, so it’s not easy to get a real gauge on how that aspect of the game is going. But perhaps the lack of crispness can be attributed to the defense. Or the fact that Ohio State knew BTN was on campus today and they wanted to stay as bland as humanly possible.

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