The Bobcats are turning up the heat for the last full week of fall camp.
Ohio changed the practice schedule, from mornings to mid-afternoons, for the final week of camp. The first such practice came Monday, a two-hour affair minus all pads but helmets, inside Peden Stadium.
With afternoon temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, it was the hottest practice of camp.
The change in schedule serves a couple of purposes for head coach Frank Solich. First, the change to a later start coincides with warmer temperatures, more heat and more humidity. The Bobcats haven’t done a ton of post-practice conditioning in camp and working in the heat — coupled with the usual up-tempo pace Ohio employs — will help ensure a sufficient level of conditioning is done.
And second, the 2 p.m. start time for practice is identical to the 2 p.m. start time Ohio will face in the season opener on Aug. 31 against Rhode Island. Getting used the start time, and the likely temperature range that the Bobcats will face in the opener, seems like a simple enough pair of reasons to make the change.
Monday’s practice was helmets only, and contact was kept to a minimum. Coming off a full-contact scrimmage on Saturday, the practice format was expected. As it was, there were a number of new players held out on Monday from scrimmage bumps and bruises, and at least a couple of substantial hand/arm injuries were found after Saturday.
For more on those, and other tidbits from Monday, here’s a rundown:
— A trio of players were obviously dinged up in the scrimmage, and all three were held out of Monday’s practice. They included WR K.J. Minter, DE Bryce Dugan and LB Griffin Hites. None of the three appear to be seriously injured — no visible braces and what not — and presumably could return in short order.
— However, there were a few more injuries noticed after the fact. S Jett Elad (thigh) missed his first practice of camp on Monday. DT Michael Massinople was out with a heavily wrapped and braced right hand/forearm. DT Jeremiah Burton, a freshman who has shown well in camp, was out as well with a new hard cast in place on his right hand/forearm.
— WR Jerome Buckner, who took part in the scrimmage, was held out on Monday but didn’t seem impaired in any way. Also out on Monday was redshirt freshman defensive end Bryce Stai.
— WR Drew Keszei is participating on a limited basis, but has been upgraded to a red jersey. He injured a shoulder in the first scrimmage of camp.
— At CB, Jamal Hudson was limited on Monday after getting reps on Saturday. But CB Marlin Brooks, held out on Saturday, was back in an active role with the first team defense. Both Ilyaas and Xavior Motley remained sidelined with undisclosed injuries.
— On the OL, Samson Jackson (out on Saturday) was back with the second team at left tackle. In addition, backup guard Kurt Danneker was back to taking some reps after missing several days with an ankle injury.
— WR Shane Hooks took more reps on Monday than perhaps in any other practice in this camp. He’s no longer wearing a red jersey either.
— Freshman tight end Luke Ewald has missed a full week with an undisclosed injury/illness. He returned for the early portions of practice, but was unable to finish.
— DE Amir Miller (wrist/hand) remains out of action and has been out since the fourth day of camp.
— On the roster front, head coach Frank Solich confirmed Monday that redshirt freshman DT Antrez Baker is no longer part of the program. He was not on the initial camp roster, and will not be rejoining the Bobcats will the roster expands with the start of the fall semester on Aug. 26. Baker showed well in 2018 as a defensive end with potential, but faded a bit as the season wore on. He moved to DT for spring camp.
— OLB Jeremiah Wood had another ‘flash’ play on Monday. In 7-on-7, Wood picked off Kurtis Rourke when a low slant pass to Hooks popped off the receiver’s hands. Wood stabbed it out of the air for the turnover. Wood appears to have locked up that backup position at strong side outside linebacker.
— CB Kel Davis and S Javon Hagan had impressive defensive stands in one-on-one drills. Hagan cut under a crossing tight end for a one-hand deflection. Davis won a 50/50 ball against Hooks on a fade route for an interception.
— Most of Ohio’s starting 22 appears to be in place, with just a couple of exceptions. At RB, O’Shaan Allison and Julian Ross are splitting reps with the first team currently and De’Montre Tuggle is in the mix as well. Injuries and missed practices have prevented Ohio from clearing identifying a top five at WR. Monday’s first team WRs appeared to be Cam Odom, Tyler Tupa and Isiah Cox. Hooks, Buckner, D.L. Knock, K.J. Minter and Ty Walton round out the top eight, and there’s still room for more movement there.
— Defensively, the starting 11 appear to be set. Up front, Will Evans, Cole Baker, Brian Arp and Amos Ogun-Semore are the first four, with another 4-6 players making a bid to be a part of the rotation. At linebacker, Jared Dorsa (MLB), Eric Popp (weakside) and Dylan Conner (strong) have been a pretty consistent trio with the ones since the start of camp. In the secondary, Hagan and Jarren Hampton are the top pair of safeties. Hudson and Brooks are probably the starters at the corners, but both have missed time. Ilyaas and Xavior Motley, before missing the last several days, were the top backups. But the corner competition has become more bunched together of late.