COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day will meet with reporters around 12:00 pm today to provide updates on his football team and preview Saturday’s matchup between the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Also scheduled to speak and answer questions are OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, left tackle Paris Johnson, tight end Cade Stover, and safety Ronnie Hickman. Click refresh for all of the latest updates once the festivities begin around noon.
Left Tackle Paris Johnson
- ND DE Isaiah Foskey is a generational type of player but OSU has players like him that he’s been able to work against and prepare for. He’s excited for the matchup. “That’s why I came here.” Hard practices prepare you for big games.
- What tells him this team is tougher now? The team is closer now and honest with each other. When you are closer as a team you can be tougher on each other as well. It sharpens up the guys across from you. He is tired of hitting his teammates though and is ready for another team to take the field.
- With the help of Justin Frye the transition back to left tackle has been smooth. He’s had his difficulties early on which were expected.
- How important is this game for his NFL stock? “This is the only game I have.” He’s not worried about any other games right now. He’s not worried about the NFL. Next week Arkansas State will be the most important game. That’s the only way it should be.
- What will people see from this defense? “I just think our defense plays a lot faster.” Last year they were able to get away with more than they are this year even though it’s the same guys on defense.
- Mike Hall has caught his eye since he got here. “I could name all of the defensive ends” as having caught his eye as well. He did mention Zach Harrison and JT Tuimoloau first.
- If they were allowed to play six offensive linemen last year, they would have played Donovan Jackson. They are playing next to each other this season and the way he wants to help him is the way Thayer Munford and Nick Petit-Frere helped him when he was young. Donovan Jackson doesn’t make a lot of mistakes so when he does, Paris pulls him aside and they talk about it.
- First day in spring ball with pads on was when he noticed a difference in this defense. The defense kept running the same play out of different looks and he never realized it until he watched the film.
- How much is establishing the run a point of emphasis? That’s one of the rules to win the game. Everybody in the country knows they can throw the ball but what they’re going to take the most pride in this season is running the ball and moving the line of scrimmage.
- Notre Dame has a talented front. In these kinds of games, the toughness and willpower to move the guy in front of you more times than they want to move you will win the game.
Safety Ronnie Hickman
- Safeties coach Perry Eliano has been a great addition. He makes the game seem easy. He’s a funny guy and has great energy. They just try to match his energy.
- “Really can’t wait” to unveil the defense. The time is here to get to show everyone what they have been working on.
- Tanner McCalister’s experience at Oklahoma State is huge. He’s helped all of the safeties, not just in practice but at night at home watching film. They can call him up and ask him anything.
- He’s seen Josh Proctor made plays in practice over the years and he can’t wait to see him this season.
- Lathan Ransom had one of the best camps he’s ever seen. He finds the ball and he is physical. Seeing him go to work in the offseason was impressive.
- Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer is a great athlete and Notre Dame does a great job of moving him around.
- Tyler Buchner is a great quarterback. They are going to prepare him well. They have to treat him like any other quarterback they prepare for.
- Where are you emotionally right now? After last season, he’s gained more experience with the nervousness. So while this is a big game, they have to treat it as any other game. He’s excited for everyone to see the new defense.
- Can Jim Knowles get loud? He can get loud but it’s not a lot. When he does get loud it’s due to a big mistake. He’s generally on the calmer side.
- Why is he confident the defense can stop the run? Because he’s seen it in practice. He has been able to get to the line of scrimmage without being touched. “It’s something that I’m thankful for.”
- He is expecting Notre Dame to try to establish the running game first because of the inexperienced quarterback.
- It’s huge when your coach has confidence in you to make certain calls. “It only helps us to go out there and play fast.” They have confidence that Jim Knowles will put them in good positions for this defense.
- What makes it hard to stop a talented tight end? The ability to get open makes it tough. Tight ends are getting more and more athletic and running more routes on the route tree. It causes problems for linebackers. He does a great job at the top of his route getting open.
Tight End Cade Stover
- How does he know this team is tougher than last year’s? There was never any complaints during camp about the physicality. That’s one good sign.
- Is it nice to have CJ Stroud back? “It’s more of a security blanket. That’s the most talented guy I’ve ever seen with the football in his hands.”
- Having a run game is huge. You have to be balanced. Balance is also about toughness. “We’ve got to be able to run the ball.”
- Steele Chambers is crafty. He’s tough. He’s smart and elusive. He’s hard to get your hands on him “and that kind of pisses me off.” He’s much better as a linebacker this year than last year, just like anybody would be with a year of starting.
- Paris Johnson is super athletic and he has a great attitude. He likes lining up next to guys who are likeminded.
Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles
- How does he motivate players? There’s times to be emotional and times to be steady. Any good motivator reads the room and reads the situation. You can amp up the juice when you need it to be that way. Most motivation comes from teaching and teaching and teaching. You give players reason why to do something and that gives them motivation. “Usually that’s enough and if not I can get loud.”
- Steele Chambers is growing every day into the position. He continues to be a work in progress. He’s into it. “We continue to have a back-and-forth, which is good.” “I’m from Philly, so I like some guys you can have some give and take with.”
- They have a lot of depth at defensive end. He’s fine with playing as many as possible. Could be lineups with three or four defensive ends out there.
- Lathan Ransom had a great camp. To come off of an injury like that and play like he has in practice. He jumps out in film. He has the intuitive feeling for where the ball is going to go.
- They have put this defense through the crucible. They’ve gone against the nation’s best offense every day. They have poked and prodded and stretched them every day. “So yeah, I’m confident.”
- Preparing a defense and playing on Saturday is the same process as always, but the expectations are different. You have to stay locked in even more. He’ll think about all of the nice parts of it later on when he gets old.
- Cornerbacks are on an island. This is a safety-drive defense but only if you have great corners. You try to give them help but doing so with a disguise so the quarterbacks don’t always know what’s happening in coverage.
- Denzel Burke started out as a very good player and now he has the potential to be a great player. He’s improved his feet and his confidence.
- Will he take a moment before the game to appreciate where he is? “Nope.” His job is to be focused on prepare his team so that’s what he’s going to do.
- How ready is the defense? “We’re ready. We’re 100% ready to go.”
- You have to mix it up when you’re defending a talented TE like Michael Mayer. He’s an NFL player so you have to do different things to contain him. You have to know where he is at all times and you have to change it up so that a player can’t get comfortable.
- What scouting have they done on Notre Dame QB Tyler Buchner? “I don’t go back to high school.” They have looked at everything else and it comes down to your training and how well you can adjust.
- He knows where he’ll be during the game he’s just not telling the media.
- Building a mindset and installing a new scheme is all tied together. “Once players know that you care, then they’ll go to the wall for you. And I believe that we’re at that point.”
- Perry Eliano is a very smart coach with a great attitude. He’s always learning. He has experience in similar systems. An aggressive recruiter. He does it all. He has valuable opinions in terms of game planning in what his safeties can do and can do best.
- You rely on leadership to handle the moments during the game. He tells them that all of their mistakes during a game are his fault.
Head Coach Ryan Day
- Would he like to see his alma mater New Hampshire play in Ohio Stadium? That would be fun.
- Right guard Matt Jones continued to fight throughout his career. That’s what he thinks about when he thinks about Matt Jones. He showed up every day despite not winning starting jobs. Other guys would have transferred. He didn’t. Day is proud of his journey.
- He didn’t know safeties coach Perry Eliano very well but he only heard great things. Then when he talked to him he saw that he was special. Very fortunate to have him on the staff.
- When did he first see a real impact from Jim Knowles on the defense? He’s not sure it was one specific day but he saw the confidence and decisiveness grow. They run to the ball and when you have that pack mentality as a defense you can do really good things.
- When you’re at Ohio State you can’t listen to what people on the outside are saying. They say good and bad so what does it matter? Focus on the opinions that matter.
- He has to tell the team that they need to take each day and make the most of it. It’s Tuesday. Saturday will eventually get here. Don’t wear yourself out emotionally before the game.
- There is an energy to this defense and a violence and he’s excited to see them play on Saturday.
- They are going to keep preparing the defense until 7:29 and it’s time to kick the ball off.
- Paris Johnson has done really well. He’s improved and is working well with Justin Frye. He has had a very good last couple of weeks.
- They have had an excellent preseason. Attitude, toughness, they have an edge to them, but it doesn’t mean anything until they do it on the field.
- His mindset right now? “It’s just to try to have a great day today.” You can plan for the future but there’s nothing you can do except what is in front of you. “Saturday is going to come and go but how prepared are you going to be when it gets here?”
- In terms of where the coaches will be in the game, they still have to decide what the defensive staff is going to do. The offense will be the same.
- Which area of defense has improved the most? “I don’t know.” The front is creating disruption against the run and pass. Linebackers is much more improved. They are seeing things faster. The secondary as well. There’s improvement all across the board and they have embraced the new scheme.
- Notre Dame plays multiple fronts on defense. They are talented and strong, but Day feels good about where the offensive line is right now.
- It’s a challenge every year to figure out what the first opponent is going to do in that first game. Guys move on, coaches change and adapt. But in-game you have to have a good contingency plan once you see what the opponent is actually doing.
- How do you keep this team from getting a big head? “Coming off of last season there are no big heads.”
- Where can CJ Stroud improve? There’s a lot of areas. As an offense, they just have to get going. Stroud is the leader of the offense and he has to do everything he can to get the team into the end zone, whatever that looks like.
- Excited to see Paris Johnson at left tackle against a talented defensive end for Notre Dame. It will be a huge challenge for both Johnson and Dawand Jones. It was key for Paris to get that last year at guard. It gave him some very valuable experience. He is more prepared to play this year because he played last year.
- They know what they have on defense this year and guys have settled in. But in big games, the really good players have to play really well.
- The 2002 team will be recognized during the game and that team has had a great impact on Columbus. Jim Tressel is a great resource but so are the players. “I’m glad that they’re going to be a part of it.” It shows that if you win a national title at Ohio State it lives for a long, long time.
- This game being at night makes it easier to have a big group of recruits in town, but time will be limited before the game because the focus is on Notre Dame.
- It’s difficult to appreciate the tradition that is involved in this game right now. Combined with the 100th year in Ohio Stadium. It’s special but they have a game to go win. He talked to the players about watching these games as kids and that kids will be watching them.
- They will have to be aware and change some things up because former LB coach Al Washington is on the other side.
- Steele Chambers has a year under his belt. The entire linebacker room is doing well being with Jim Knowles every day. They get to see it all with the defensive coordinator. They all have more experience because so many of them played last year.
- He is hopeful that the Rose Bowl experience was big for the young receivers who are going to be counted on this season.
- Having CJ Stroud back is a different feel from last year. Everything was new last year so there were unknowns. That is no longer the case now. Having experience allows for in-game adjustments to be made easier as well.
- Kyle McCord has more experience going into this game than Devin Brown. “Right now it’s Kyle and we’ll just see where it goes.” McCord is ahead of him right now because of experience, but they both have to prove that they can do it in a game.
- Notre Dame QB Tyler Buchner is athletic and can throw it. Highly recruited. They expect him to play well.
- There is a lot of crossover on the OSU and Notre Dame staffs. “It’s a small world.”
- There is going to be a big number of recruits at the game. The conversations have been had so now it’s about playing the game and allowing them to see the atmosphere and picture themselves being on the field.
- Like Marcus Freeman said yesterday, it comes down to stopping the run and being able to run the ball yourself. It’s important to establish the run and it’s something they’ve worked on in camp. “It’s a point of emphasis for every game we play.” “That’s where the games are won and lost is up front.”
- Both Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson will play. They’ll see how it goes in the flow of the game as to who has the ball when. “We’ll start with Trey.”
- TreVeyon Henderson has more experience now and everything he’s doing is no longer for the first time.
- What concerns him about Notre Dame’s defense? They are coached very well and they mix up their styles. They have a new defensive coordinator, so there is some mystery there.
- Kyle McCord would be the second quarterback in the game if need be.
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