Ohio State Buckeyes Head Coach Ryan Day
Football

Huddle Updates: Ryan Day, Tim Walton Talk Wisconsin Win, Buckeyes’ Next Move

COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Tuesday to provide updates on his football team. The Buckeyes are coming off of an impressive 52-21 win over Wisconsin on Saturday night. Day discusses that win a bit more and looks ahead to this Saturday’s matchup with Rutgers. Secondary coach Tim Walton also spoke with the media to discuss his group of defensive backs. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

Ryan Day

  • OL coach Justin Frye has brought a lot of things to OSU. He has built chemistry in the OL room and good relationships. He has built confidence in the team based on his teachings. The results are there. They are running hard and it’s had a big impact on the football. “I think his impact has been felt.”
  • You can see a difference in Miyan Williams this year. He’s more consistent this year and that started in the offseason.
  • Tanner McCalister was somebody that they watched plenty of film on, but he also came highly recommended by Jim Knowles. But it was also about who Tanner is as a person. He came in and in a short amount of time became a part of the team. This past weekend he made two big plays and is a huge part of this defense.
  • He meets with Jim Knowles at the start of the week about the week ahead. He tries to stay out of the defensive plans, but will provide ideas from an offensive side of things. The day-to-day stuff is all Knowles.
  • CJ Stroud is critical of his play and his mistakes, like anybody else. Day has about 10 calls he wants back, just like Stroud has a few throws he wants back. Nobody is perfect. You can’t be perfect, but he still played a heck of a game throwing five touchdown passes.
  • The chemistry continues to be built with the passing game. Things are progressing nicely there.
  • Cade Stover had a great offseason. Stover probably had some doubt along the way, but he fought through it and is excelling in this offense.
  • The receivers and tight ends block on the perimeter very well. They have to because there are so many plays out wide in space. It’s an extension of the run game and forces the defense to run side to side.
  • Memories about Ohio Stadium? The Penn State game in 2017 was great, being down by three scores. The wins against the team up north were huge. Hearing Hang On Sloopy at the end of the third quarter. The band. The pregame excitement. Two favorite things is hearing the crowd after a touchdown or a third-down stop, because that’s when the stadium is at its loudest.
  • Give a lot of credit to Tim Walton and Jim Knowles for getting the young cornerbacks ready. “Very proud of them.” They both practiced all spring and all preseason. “I don’t think they missed a practice.” So when they put them in the game, the team believed in them because they’ve seen it in practice. The first start is always hectic, crazy, exhausting, but now they can move on and focus on getting better.
  • On playcalling, “it’s a good call if it works.” It’s the players and the coaches who put the play in and teach it. Hours and hours of time were put in for one particular play for the Wisconsin game. They got the look they wanted for that play and the protection broke down and they didn’t execute. That was like a knife to the heart. That’s why Tuesday and Wednesdays are so important so that you can prep and then execute on Saturday.
  • What worked with the offense early? Good rhythm, hit some big passes, and the running game was working. The protection was strong. When you have that balance, then you can be more and more explosive. They know they have weapons on the outside, but now you’re starting to see Cade Stover be a weapon over the middle and the running game is getting better.
  • What did they like about Julian Fleming as a recruit? Physicality, work ethic, ability to get the ball. He’s a physical blocker in the run game. He’s also physical after the catch. Strong and powerful. Because of his strength, he’s a mismatch for a lot of DBs. “I think now he is playing his best football.”
  • When it comes to not playing Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the ultimate decision comes down to the medical staff and the player. There is no regret playing him against Toledo because you still trust your evaluations and how things looked at the time. They won’t move forward with him until they feel great with everything. They will not put a timetable on it. “I know he’s frustrated. We’re not as far away as we think.” This will be behind us soon. There is still a lot of football to play.
  • Why is the red zone offense working? They have been running the ball better, but they are throwing and catching it really well down there. The guys are making some great catches. That’s great quarterback play because guys aren’t usually open in the red zone because the defense is so compressed. Third down red zone is where a quarterback makes his money.
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba wants to play, but life is going to throw adversity your way. “We control the response.” They talk to the team about that a lot. There are so many guys on the team and few of them have had things go exactly the way they wanted. JSN will be stronger for having gone through this.
  • They have to “be all over the human element” of staying engaged and keeping up the competitive stamina that he preaches. That’s the discipline that is required to get what you want as a football team.
  • They try to roll a new wrinkle out there each week to give opponents new looks. But you also have to continue doing what you do well.
  • Greg Schiano has a lot of great traits. Excellent motivator. Drives a program at a high level.
  • The toughness against Saturday was good. Players played with an edge. “Now we’ve got to continue to do it.” Have to find out if this is just something they do in a couple of games, or if this is actually who they are.
  • They are hoping to have Cameron Brown and Denzel Burke back. Jordan Hancock is probably still at least a week away.
  • Jyaire Brown never misses a rep in practice. When you keep practicing against these WRs, you’re going to get better.
  • They expect Lathan Ransom back this week. They usually meet for the availability report on Thursday but they’ll start meeting on Friday to make it more accurate.
  • Having Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka gives the Buckeyes receivers who can block like tight ends. They are mismatches in the run game and pass game.
  • You want to get Kyle McCord reps, but you don’t want to upstage an opponent. He tries to be sensitive to that. They’ll throw some short stuff. Even the bootleg against Toledo was supposed to be a shorter throw in the flats, but Jayden Ballard took it a little higher and McCord made a good read.
  • Taron Vincent played really well in this game. At a lot of double teams. He graded out a champion. He and Mike Hall together are powerful. The DL has been the strength of the defense.
  • Tommy Eichenberg is diagnosing plays and playing fast. “He’s the leader of our defense.”
  • When did Julian Fleming become accountable in Day’s eyes? There is so much more practice than games, so you see trends. When you see it in practice every day, you know it will eventually show up in games. “We believe in him.” He’s a physical receiver. His offseason has paid off this year.
  • What does a fullback dive do for the offense? They recognized last year that they didn’t use Mitch Rossi enough. They see things in him that can help the team. You’re seeing it now. He’s a weapon for them. There will be more coming.

Tim Walton

  • They’ll see towards the end of the week but they are hoping to get Denzel Burke and Cam Brown back for Rutgers.
  • Having six scholarship corners? You deal with the situation as it is and then prepare the guys to be ready when their name is called. That’s what you can control.
  • They had big expectations for Jordan Hancock this year. They have emphasized that everybody needs to be ready for each Saturday. They have to be pros.
  • Tanner McCalister is smart and understands the defense. He makes communication better and easier for the defense.
  • “We go against the best in the business every day” in practice. The young corners got some good lessons in spring and preseason.
  • It’s his job to keep his guys calm.
  • When he made his first start at OSU, he had older guys to help him along. They simplified the game for him and helped him with communication.
  • Jyaire Brown did well. There are things to correct.
  • You have to have amnesia as a cornerback. Denzel Burke has done a good job of putting plays behind him and moving on. It’s normal to be frustrated after giving up a play because everybody wants to play well, but you move on to the next one.
  • Sonny Styles has put in a lot of reps in practice and has been impressive. He comes to work each day and stays ready. He’s big and strong and his family prepared him well for moving on to Ohio State.
  • No matter how mad you get about a pass interference, the refs are changing the call. He tries to have a “if I’m not worried about it, don’t you worry about it” mindset. You don’t want a penalty to affect more than one play. You also can’t relax as a corner because when things are going well and you relax, they’ll catch you relaxing. You have to play it one play at a time. It’s a cliche but it works.
  • How has it been coming back to college? He has enjoyed the challenge of developing young men, because that’s what he enjoys. And to do it at his alma mater is a dream come true. He’s working with players now that want to be great and have a passion for the game. It all starts with the relationship, and then working on the mental part of the game.
  • The key to everything is relationship and communication. When he took the job, he got on the phone with each of his players. They talked about the players and life, then they would discuss football. First the players have to know you care. You have to take time to learn about the person before working with the player. “They need to get to know you as well.” You want to know the guys you are dealing with every day and to know that what is happening is genuine.
  • What is the biggest thing that has changed about college football since he played at Ohio State? “Football is football.” The athletes now are bigger, faster, and stronger. They take care of their bodies better. Now there is also the outside piece like NIL, social media, ect. You have to try to pull the players back in and keep them out of the distractions.
  • They can grab Cam Martinez and Tanner McCalister who can play corner in a pinch. Walton and Perry Eliano do a lot of dual teaching so guys can be prepared for anything.
  • Sonny Styles is tough and seasoned. He’s mature for a young guy. He takes things seriously. He applies the information from the classroom to the field with minimal mistakes. He fixes mistakes. They don’t show up a second time.
  • How has he adjusted to his coaching from the NFL to college? He holds the players to the same standard in the NFL because his players want to get to the NFL. He approaches it the same way and teaches the same way. It takes a little longer and he goes a little slower. It’s more of a progression.
  • He found out toward the end of the week that he wouldn’t have Cam Brown or Denzel Burke. You have to control what you can control. That’s why they emphasize everybody being ready. The game is happening regardless. If you prepare the players and show confidence in them, they’ll play better. JK Johnson and Jyaire Brown were excited about starting but they also expected it. They have prepared well every day.

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