Chip Kelly

Ohio State Spring Game: Chip Kelly Impressed With Young Buckeyes, Quarterback Talent

COLUMBUS — Ohio State offensive coordinator Chip Kelly met with reporters following the Buckeye offense’s 34-33 win over the defense in Saturday’s annual spring game. Kelly discussed how the 15 spring practices went, what he thought of the quarterbacks, when a starter may be named, how difficult it can be for freshmen to stand out, the pluses of having a QB running the ball, honoring Woody Hayes, and much more. The highlights of everything he had to say can be found below.

  • General impressions of the offense and QBs? They’ll go back and look at all 15 practices. This was one part of it, but it had meaning because it was the first time in front of this kind of crowd for some of them.
  • There is no decision being made on the quarterbacks right now. The decision will be based on who will move the ball best. They have a lot of talent at the position. They tell the QBs “Don’t count your reps, make your reps count.”
  • How good of a feel do you think you have for the running game right now? Sometimes it can be tough to get an evaluation when you’re running against a really good front like they have, but that pays off in the fall. They still have plenty to evaluate, but the work they got against OSU’s defensive line “was really key for us.”
  • How have you seen the offensive line progress in the time you’ve been here? He came in with a blank slate. “I think we’re really athletic.” The line is really as well. They need to make sure they find a fifth guy. Also, you’re not going to go 16 or 17 guys and only play five guys. You’ve got to find another center, a third guard, and a third tackle who are going to play. “You’re not looking for five starters, you’re really looking for 10 starters.”
  • Why the T-formation to start the game? “Mister Hayes. If it was good enough for Woody, we’re gonna steal it.” It’s a small part of the offense. They may use it in short-yardage situations. More and more schools are doing it now. “A little bit of a tribute to Coach Hayes and what he means to this program.”
  • What do you feel best about this offense? Just how close the offense is. It’s truly a brotherhood. The practices are highly competitive but it is not combative.
  • “The closest teams and the most connected teams are the ones that win.”
  • Emeka Egbuka is a special player. JJ Smith is a really talented player also. Carnell Tate did some really good things this spring. Kelly came in with no opinions formed. The wide receiver group “is really special.”
  • What have you seen from the younger QBs? “I always am so impressed with young guys that enroll early and watching how they get acclimated and what they do.” They get thrown in the deep end and see if they can swim. They don’t baby them in anything.
  • Some of the freshmen were looking around at the crowd and saying wow, “along with the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.” Yesterday was Kelly’s first time in the stadium. Today he caught himself looking around at 80,000 for a spring game. “That’s impressive.”
  • What has stood out most about Julian Sayin’s progression this spring? He is a very fast processor. He makes quick decisions. “He sees things really well for a young player.” “Jim [Knowles] can make a young freshman quarterback cry with some of the stuff that he does but I never saw that from Jules.”
  • Julian Sayin and JJ Smith, they do not act like freshmen.
  • What did you see from the freshman RBs? James Peoples really flashed early in spring for Kelly. He’s got really good feel and vision. Sam Williams-Dixon did some good things today. TC Caffey has helped with depth. They constantly talk about depth in staff meetings. You now need more than “a pair and a spare.” Happy with how they have come along at RB.
  • Do you need to let the QBs know where they stand before the portal opens on Tuesday? Yes, they will all get an assessment. They know every day where they stand. They get constant feedback. But they can’t get that feedback until the film has been studied. Nobody is going on the road for recruiting until next weekend because they have to spend next week meeting as a staff and with players about where they stand.
  • When do you need to know who your starting quarterback is? “You always want to do it earlier” but it always happens organically and authentically “because the players know.” “Players understand who they feel is the guy.” There is no exact timetable on naming a starter.
  • How long does it take for the game to slow down for a young QB? It depends on the player. Marcus Mariota was a guy who was advanced and it slowed down for him quickly.
  • “I think a running quarterback causes problems for a defense.” The unscheduled QB runs when a play breaks down are so tough to defend. Just look at Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl this year. They want a quarterback who can run. They don’t want a running back that can throw. They’re not going to run the QB 20 times per game. This group can hurt you with their feet. They’re not calling many designed quarterback runs though.

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