COLUMBUS — Despite a shoulder injury that has been nagging him since the week one win over Minnesota, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud remains on track, for now, to start on Saturday when the Buckeyes wrap up non-conference play against Akron.
Stroud, who revealed the discomfort he’s been playing with following Ohio State’s loss to Oregon on Sept. 11, has been seen routinely rotating and grabbing at his shoulder following throws in each of the Buckeyes’ last two contests. During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, head coach Ryan Day said there is no current plan to rest Stroud against a heavily outmatched Akron team as the Buckeyes prepare for conference play next week. However, Day didn’t exactly rule out the possibility either.
“I don’t know,” Day said when asked if resting Stroud would be beneficial. “We can talk about that as the week goes on, but his plan is to practice right now.”
Before Day can worry about his redshirt freshman quarterback’s availability on Saturday, the issue of balancing Stroud’s workload on his shoulder with the continued importance and need for repetitions in practice is becoming increasingly problematic.
“That’s a challenge for sure. It’s making sure he’s getting the reps, the time with his receivers he needs, but then also resting the shoulder and making sure he’s where he needs to be,” Day said. “There’s something there (with the shoulder) for sure that we have to continue to work through, and it’s something that we’re talking about a lot to try and figure out.”
If Stroud were unable to play, now or down the road, the question of who would be backing him up still remains without an answer. Both redshirt freshman Jack Miller and true freshman Kyle McCord have yet to see the field as Ohio State has found itself in close contests in each of its first three games.
With Ohio State favored by nearly 50 points this week, Saturday will likely present a prime opportunity for Day to get his backup quarterbacks their first snaps of the season. While Day is hoping to accomplish just that, he said on Tuesday that those decisions will be primarily up to the quarterbacks and how they prepare in practice this week.
“I think we’ll look to see if we can possibly get that done this week if it works out. Again, a lot of it has to do with the week of preparation,” Day said. “It really is week to week. So, when we start that preparation on Sunday after we get off the field, we wipe the previous week clean and then we go from there. It’s all about how these guys prepare and how they practice. But if the opportunity presents itself then we’d like to do that this week.”
While the amount of talent behind Stroud makes the backup quarterback position at Ohio State like few, if any, others in the country, Day is not wavering on his confidence in Stroud as the best of the bunch. Day reiterated on Tuesday that he’s seen plenty of good in Stroud through three weeks, with plenty of room still to grow for a guy who hadn’t throw a pass in college prior to this season.
“I think what C.J.’s done so far, he’s had some reps that he wants back, but he’s also had some really good reps as well,” Day said. “I think when you look at his numbers compared to some of the younger quarterbacks that we’ve had —and he’s young, it’s like playing a true freshman —there are going to be some growing pains along the way. He’s just gotta learn from those and continue to grow.”
Day later added, “I think there is a lot of great football ahead for C.J. Stroud. I just do. When you look at the situation he’s been put into, some of the throws he’s made, you can see that he can do it. Now we just have to keep growing on it.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.