The Ohio State offensive line is starting to come into focus.
In the Buckeyes’ eternal August quest for a starting five up front, Saturday’s scrimmage provided some necessary information, and maybe more than just a glimpse of what to expect.
In the days prior to the scrimmage, San Diego State transfer Josh Simmons was moved from right tackle to left tackle, and fourth-year junior Josh Fryar was moved from the team’s top left tackle to the team’s top right tackle.
It was a notable change because Fryar had been the No. 1 left tackle all throughout spring and through the first handful of fall practices. Offensive line coach Justin Frye said back in May that Simmons would get a look at left tackle, however, and he’s been making the most of the opportunity he has been given.
“I think he’s had some really good practices,” head coach Ryan Day said on Monday. “He’s shown that he can be the starting left tackle. He has not won that job yet. But he has shown traits that make us believe that that he can be that guy.”
When Ohio State went into the transfer portal after spring looking for a tackle, they no doubt hoped they could land a starting left tackle, but the odds seemed slim. Based on the early returns, however, those odds seem to be improving every day.
The move of Simmons to left tackle has obviously impacted Fryar, but not in a negative way. Fryar has moved around throughout his entire career at Ohio State, so all he’s ever known is change. He seems to be one of the few players that can handle it.
“Yeah, he’s somebody that he’s kind of gone back and forth a little bit. He’s got flexibility that way,” Day said of Fryar. “Some guys, they really struggle moving. Dawand [Jones] really struggled doing that. You know, some guys, it’s not as hard. For Josh, he feels comfortable playing on the right side.”
Day said true freshman Luke Montgomery is also one of those players that is comfortable moving around, and right now he is competing with Fryar for a starting spot on the right side. Redshirt freshman Tegra Tshabola is on the left side behind Simmons.
All in all, Day is happy with how things are moving at both tackle spots.
“We’ve looked at who’s going to be the best moving forward for the long term,” he explained. “We felt like Simmons gave us an opportunity to maybe look at him over there, and then figure out where to go moving forward. We’ve kind of settled into that the last few practices. And we felt like if we were going to make that move, we had to make it early on in the preseason. And I think it’s going to be the best for the long term. But we’ll continue to evaluate it.”
Based on Day’s comments at this point, it would seem the only change that may occur at either tackle spot right now is Montgomery winning the job over Fryar. That is not expected, but any time a comment is made about what’s best for the long term, the upside of a younger player’s improvement over the course of a season will be considered.
The other open competition on the offensive line is at center, where redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman and Louisiana-Monroe transfer Victor Cutler are battling. Hinzman was with the ones all throughout spring ball as Cutler learned the offense and acclimated to the culture. Hinzman has continued to be with the ones in fall camp, but Day is not ready yet to pick a winner.
“No, no, I don’t think I’d like to mention that yet,” he said. “I mean, I know there was some decent play, but I don’t think we’re ready to identify somebody ahead of the other just yet.”
Last week Day applauded Cutler for making a push for the job, but clearly there is still work to do for both competitors.
Ohio State has now been through 10 practices, with 15 more to go before kickoff at Indiana. Despite the appearance of many moving parts, the situation seems to be finding its level. Day reiterated as much when he was asked if it’s normal to have this much movement on the offensive line at this stage of camp.
“There hasn’t been a lot of moving parts since we since we made that move,” he said. “So I mean, we’re kind of settling into it. You know, I think we’re actually in a pretty good place right now.”