COLUMBUS – C.J. Stroud will return to his starting quarterback job on Saturday at Rutgers if healthy, Ohio State football coach Ryan Day said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Stroud sat out last week’s 59-7 win over Akron because of a sore shoulder, which dates back to preseason practice and some big hits during OSU’s first three games.
“I think the week helped him. It sounds like it’s going in the right direction,” Day said.
“I’m optimistic, coming off of Sunday’s practice and with the feedback I’ve gotten from the medical staff and trainers, that we’re ready to move forward,” he said.
OSU’s No. 2 quarterback, Kyle McCord, completed 13 of 18 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns against Akron. The Buckeyes’ third quarterback, Jack Miller, was 5 of 9 for 60 yards, all in the second half.
The first word Day used to describe McCord’s performance was “inconsistent.”
“He was inconsistent with some of his reads. Early on I thought he was a little nervous. He did make some nice throws but there were also some he kind of got away with,” Day said.
“When you’re starting for the first time there’s a lot going on. I think the next time he’s in that moment he’ll be a lot more settled.”
“We’ll continue to build and grow, and it was good to get snaps under his (McCord’s) belt. The same thing with Jack. I think it was good for both of those guys as we move forward, and just see what comes these next couple weeks,” Day said.
“They pretty much played the way they’ve practiced. But I think it gives them a little bit more of a reference point moving forward of, ‘OK, this is maybe how it looks in practice but this is the reality in a game.’”
Some other thoughts from Day:
• Miller returning: Harry Miller, who started at offensive guard last season, was expected to be the starting center this season but has not played in Ohio State’s first four games for unspecified reasons. Day said Thursday that Miller is back with the team but did not mention when he might return to the field.
“He’s been dealing with some health issues. He’s going to come back this week and be part of the team,” Day said.
• Defense a work in progress: Asked if the defense had turned the corner after nine sacks and two interceptions against Akron, Day said “I think we’ve made some strides.” This week will be a test for them. But they are playing with more aggression. The answer isn’t here yet. It’s week to week.”
• Paris Johnson impresses: Asked if Paris Johnson’s good work on the offensive line was being overlooked, Day said “I think anytime that you don’t notice a guard he’s doing a heck of a job.”
• Pope and consequences: Day did not offer many specifics about dismissing senior linebacker K’Vaughan Pope from the team after a sideline tantrum and a tweet at halftime of the Akron game, but said “There was an incident there that we addressed and he was removed from the team. Our focus right now is on Rutgers. His emotions got out of hand a little bit. He’s done a good job of taking accountability and we’ll focus on Rutgers moving forward.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau