COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters for his weekly Tuesday media session. He provided some updates on him team, discussed last week’s big win over Notre Dame, and looked ahead this weekend to Saturday’s game against Arkansas State. Also speaking with reporters were safeties coach Perry Eliano and quarterback CJ Stroud. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
- Great start defensively. That was the start they were looking for. They played hard, fast, and decisive. “That just means we can do it.” Now have to do it every week.
- There will be more depth played moving forward. There were only 49 plays for the defense, which is very unique.
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba impacts the entire game, so when you don’t have him it’s an issue. His return is left to the doctors, but they won’t bring him back if there’s any risk of further injury.
- How do you keep the same intensity this week? It’s about competitive stamina, which you saw on Saturday night. But that game is over and it doesn’t mean anything this week. Still need a renewed competitive stamina. You have to bring it every single week. “We create our standard.”
- CJ Stroud is unique for a lot of reasons. “There’s a lot to CJ. He’s very deep.” He’s making a significant impact on the program.
- They will need Josh Proctor this season and there’s no concerns there. There were so few plays defensively against Notre Dame but it’s a long season. Competitive excellence is a must. This is a deeper defense so players will need to be great all the time because there are others who can play as well.
- When there are injuries, “you kind of have to move on” as a team. The only thing you can control is the response. That’s the only way to get the best outcome out of a bad situation. The team responded when Jaxon Smith-Njigba went down. You just never know what’s going to happen in a game, like Trey Sermon breaking his collarbone on the first play of the game against Alabama a couple of years ago.
- There were some good plays by the receivers. Some things that were just missed. There were some protection issues. They finished 9-of-10 passing, so they found a rhythm.
- Donovan Jackson had some really good plays. Has some plays he wants back. He graded out a champion.
- How long does it take to get on the same page for a QB and young receivers? CJ and JSN have a great chemistry. They need to get the lack of execution fixed with other receivers. They will.
- Luke Wypler left the game in a boot but it’s nothing long term. They’ll keep an eye on it.
- Enokk Vimahi did a great job stepping in for Matt Jones late in the game.
- Notre Dame’s gameplan was to shorten the game, so when teams try to do that, OSU has to be able to win that way. You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run. Looking back, they could have been more efficient on offense because every play matters in those games. The crowd helped push them through in the fourth quarter.
- When you’re playing good defensively like they did, he’s okay with a 7-minute drive in the fourth quarter for the Buckeye offense. That’s not normally what they’re known for, but they did that on purpose.
- It was great to see the defensive line play the way that they did. They saw a lot of that in the preseason. It was great to see them react to giving up an explosive play right out of the gate. They went right back to work and created a negative play. “I think that’s Jim’s mentality: ‘give me a yard and we’ll defend it.'”
- The defense was able to get off the field against Notre Dame, but that’s just one game facing 49 total plays. Still a lot to prove.
- Notre Dame was a field position game because when you play against a team that wants to run the ball and run the clock, every possession is key and you don’t want to give them anything free.
- Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson will continue to share the work and they were very impressive after watching the film.
- Michael Hall now needs to show he can be consistent from game to game. Flashing in a game is one thing. Being out there every week is more important.
- The throw to Miyan Williams on the rollout was as good as Day has seen. Stroud is moving different on the run. He’s quicker and stronger and faster. That paid off in the game against Notre Dame.
- As the week goes on they’ll have a better feel for Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s practice availability this week.
- Tanner McCalister came highly recommended from both Jim Knowles and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. They knew they needed to bring in more safeties and nickels going to Knowles’ defense. He’s been really helpful to the players as a coach on the field. It’s not easy to assimilate at OSU.
- There were certainly good signs with the passing game as the game went on.
- Julian Fleming was close to being on the field Saturday. “Tore his heart out not to play in this game.” Hope to have him on Saturday.
- Arkansas State has a good coaching staff and good players. They got off to a good start last week and played teams tough last year. Buckeyes will have to get ready for a noon kickoff this week, which is different than getting ready for a night game.
- This week in practice is about addressing what they didn’t do well last week while continuing to grow as a team.
- Jim Knowles’ defense is hard to identify for a quarterback. It can create confusion. “They make you work every play.”
- Saturday was a huge hurdle, “but so is every game around here. If you don’t believe it, try losing it.” There was a lot on Saturday. They are mindful of that with the players. They don’t want to rile them up too early in the day. It’s easy to get worked up hours ahead of time when you see campus and all of the fans.
- The scars on this team helped them get the job done against Notre Dame. “But that’s life.” You sometimes don’t appreciate things as much as you should until they’re taken away from you. He’s proud of the way the guys went throughout their offseasons, but this is just one game.
- There is a segment of Buckeye Nation that appreciated the way OSU played on Saturday. 100th year in the Shoe. They had a couple of plays for the fullback that they couldn’t get to. Jim Tressel was hoping for a power play, which didn’t happen, but they got heavy a couple of times.
- The locker room at halftime was excellent. Problem solving and positive vibes. The sideline was excellent. The excitement when Xavier Johnson scored was great. Then the fourth quarter happens and the offense was so determined and ran hard.
- They worked on CJ Stroud’s athleticism in the offseason and worked on throwing on the run. He’s really worked on scramble drills as well. A lot of his scrambling on Saturday was just having a better feel for the game as well.
- Xavier Johnson and CJ Stroud both recognized the blitzes and adjusted to it on the touchdown pass. That gives them a great deal of confidence in Xavier Johnson.
- It was huge to be able to punch that last touchdown in. “At some point…you’ve got to beat your man.” They had a tough mentality down there and they got the job done.
- How different is it opening up against a good team? You’re forced to be really good in the preseason. They did a lot of tackling in scrimmages. There was constant communication with him and Mickey Marotti. They pulled guys out of practice if they had already run too much in practice (based on GPS trackers).
- The theme is competitive stamina. You have to bring it every week. You can’t choose when to do it or not. It’s a requirement.
- The 12-team playoff is exciting but there’s a lot of work to be done.
- Lathan Ransom’s performance didn’t surprise him. He’s an instinctive football player.
- Josh Proctor is a phenomenal player. It wasn’t planned like that to play Lathan Ransom that much but he wanted to calm Proctor down. Proctor was great on the sideline. He is selfless. He met with Proctor and got his thoughts on the situation. He was in today and yesterday watching film. “He was great.”
- Being at Ohio State means something. To be with this team and these players and coaches, it was great to have his family there for a win on Saturday. “Priceless.” You always have visions and dreams of what things will be like, but Saturday exceeded everything. The players stayed so even-keeled. “It was awesome.”
- How did everything mesh in game plan preparation? “We’re pros.” The flow of the game was great. Players stayed locked in and never flinched with immediate adversity. You always want to see how they react and that was a great reaction.
- Ronnie Hickman has stepped up his game off the field. He is playing extremely fast. He has put in the time and effort on areas of improvement. There is a lot of trust in him.
- The entire safety room wants to be coached. They want real feedback.
- ND TE Michael Mayer is a great tight end. They studied his habits and his tendencies. They knew exactly where he would be. Eliano told his players to keep hitting him. Overall, “we bottled him up.”
- Everybody on the sideline’s got icewater in their veins. Jim Knowles is very calm up in the booth. When the lights are on, nobody flinches. The players can see that in their coaches’ eyes.
- He was proud of the safeties’ toughness. Notre Dame felt them. They were physical the entire game.
- The third-down stop on Mayer with Lathan Ransom stopping him a yard short, that’s an example of being BIA — Best In America. When you take that label, you’re representing every player that came before you.
- The expectations for the safeties going in was that they would need to be able to handle the run and they did that. This is a safety-driven defense as Jim Knowles said so those guys have to be able to handle the run.
- Tanner McCalister did what was expected of him. He didn’t get a ton of action his way but he played well enough for them to do what they needed in order to win. He can still be play better, like everybody.
- There were times in the summer when he’d see Lathan Ransom working out by himself in the summer. “And I would just watch from afar. I was impressed because he didn’t have to do that.” That showed a desire and intrinsic motivation. “He just works.” Coachable.
- “They’re loving learning about ball.” And they’re playing fast.
- Arkansas State’s offense is good. It’s a tempo offense. They have a big quarterback with good skill around him. Several transfers that have bolstered things.
- Looking at the film, did some great things moving the ball when they had to. They saw more man than they expected. Have to clean some things up with that. Pass protection was amazing the whole night. Proud of the guys for keeping the fight going all game.
- It’s a great feeling to see the offense go out and run the ball well when they needed to. That was built in the offseason as they worked to get stronger. “One game doesn’t define us though. We’ve got to keep doing it.”
- On the pass to Miyan Williams, it was a drop-8 coverage. They had crossing routes, but that gets taken away by the drop coverage. He alerted Miyan Williams to run the wheel even though “he’s not a burner,” but on the scramble he saw Williams late and they were on the same page. They did the same thing in practice last week but Miyan didn’t run the right route in practice. Miyan did a great job getting his toes in.
- They call it “the second part of the route,” i.e. the scramble drill. They work on it a lot. It showed against Notre Dame.
- First game of the season is always tough “unless they’re like total bums.” Notre Dame was good.
- His agent told him he needs to start enjoying the wins and appreciate the work you’ve put in. “You gotta smell your flowers.”
- Emeka Egbuka showed a little bit of what he can do, but he can do more. That was just a taste. They’ll do more and more with both EE and Marvin Harrison.
- There is always a feeling-out process with QBs and receivers. Nothing alarming.
- Donovan Jackson held his own. He was moving dudes around in the running game. Paris Johnson did an amazing job on Isaiah Foskey. Same thing with Dawand Jones. Luke Wypler did a great thing battling through injury. Matt Jones was sick the whole week and battled. They kept him clean and the RBs too.
- It’s a great feeling to know you have a great defense to rely on.
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba was a big loss. It was a shock to everybody. “He’s the best player on our team.” It affects the whole offense. Guys will continue to step up in JSN’s absence if he doesn’t play on Saturday.
- On his conversations with Ryan Day, he said Day sees the game from the sideline because even though Day was a quarterback, he hasn’t played the game in a while, and CJ sees it from the field, so they have different perspectives when they are talking.
- On his dynamic with Luke Wypler: “He’s like the vice president and I’m the president.” He can veto Wypler if he sees things differently.
- He’s more comfortable this season moving around. He’s faster, bigger, stronger, quicker. He’s more confident on the run. “I just try to keep my eyes up…” he doesn’t want to just take off if a receiver is open because that would be a discourtesy to those guys.
- On his TD pass to Xavier Johnson, he’s been coached to always have a game plan for zero coverage, and on that play they blitzed both safeties, but before he went through his mind about his “plan for zero” and it worked perfectly. Xavier Johnson is an OG, he’s a vet. He never really has missed assignments.
- His emotions when a friend like JSN goes down? He’s seen all of the work he’s put in, it’s a shock when somebody goes down. But he’s not going to be out long, so it’s nothing crazy. It affected the game plan and the shots they wanted to take. They needed to be smart with the ball.
- What did that last touchdown do for the team? Not much, they already knew what was up. They’ve put in the work. It wasn’t a surprise.
- They played down to their competition at times last year. He doesn’t want to do that anymore.
- He has trust in Matt Jones and Jakob James if they would need to play instead of Luke Wypler.
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