Ryan Day Ohio State Buckeyes Head Coach

Huddle Updates: Ryan Day Discusses Improved Offensive Line Play, Need For Depth, Hitting The Road, More

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day took part in his final media availability of the week before heading to East Lansing on Friday for this weekend’s matchup with the Michigan State Spartans. First, Day discussed his football team on his weekly radio show for an hour, and then he spent 10 minutes with reporters for his weekly “lightning round.” The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

Lightning Round

  • Paris Johnson and Dawand Jones have made progress, but the challenges are going to get bigger and bigger.
  • CJ Stroud graded out as a champion. For a QB, there are things in the running game that require hard decisions that can factor into his grade. He needs to grade 80% or better to be a champion, like the other positions. When you score 7 TDs on 9 possessions, you’re doing something right.
  • He asked the team on Tuesday how many players were at MSU in 2018. There weren’t many hands. A bunch of hands were from guys who played in 2020 and he told them that doesn’t count.
  • It was difficult watching the 2020 game. Watched it in the basement with his son. Lots of yelling and pacing. Then he could enjoy the second half. Couldn’t relax until the game was over.
  • They have talked about being on the road and being ready for the rude reactions. Being at home, everybody loves you. The road is hostile “and we’ve got to bring it.” Can’t let the crowd have a negative impact on how they play.
  • Dawand Jones has dropped weight and is now able to do things he couldn’t do last year because of his weight. He has a great attitude and brings everybody up with his attitude. “That energy is infectious.” Because all of those things, you’re seeing better play. He was challenged in the offseason and he’s responded.
  • Didn’t want to elaborate on whether or not Tanner McCalister or Cameron Martinez would be back this week.
  • They have been creative in putting in packages for Zach Harrison and other defensive linemen that has put them in good positions to make plays. They will continue to find ways to make Harrison productive.
  • Will Miyan Williams start this week? “We’ll continue to play depth.” It’s a week-to-week basis. You can feel the energy in the crowd and the team when he’s running hard. Very impressed with the way he ran last week.
  • Hoping to have TreVeyon Henderson back this week.
  • The improved linebacker play is 50/50 between the experience of playing last year and going through everything they went through, and then having Jim Knowles as their position coach and defensive coordinator.

Radio Show

  • They ran the ball well, which they needed to do against Rutgers’ two-high safety defense. If the defense is attempting to take away the pass, you need to be able to run the ball, which they did.
  • CJ Stroud wants to have the interception back but he still played well. He graded out a champion. There were several defensive holding calls in one-on-one situations that would have been able to hit big, so not having those makes the numbers look different than you might normally see.
  • You’re seeing teams across the country having to play more depth due to injuries. Guys have to step up for the Buckeyes, and they are.
  • They practiced fielding onside kicks going into last week’s game.
  • They would have liked to have gotten some more first downs with the backups last week in the fourth quarter. You’d like to have the backups have about 50-75 reps going into the home stretch.
  • They use blowouts as a selling point in recruiting, pointing out that young players will have opportunities to play when games get out of hand.
  • You can’t cover everything in preparing for a game, so you have to teach the guys to expect the unexpected and then deal with it when it happens. “You always have to be on high alert on special teams.”
  • They practiced on grass Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for the MSU turf. It’s a lot more forgiving on the joints and the knees.
  • When you have five home games to start the season, you get into a routine. Now the routine changes a bit with the road game. You get to the hotel and make that your new home. Won’t have to wait all day because it’s a 4 o’clock kick.
  • Hoping to have TreVeyon Henderson this week. He’s further along this week than he was last week. You have to be able to run the ball on the road. Have to lean on the leaders too. Your veteran players have to play veteran.
  • Tommy Eichenberg is playing fast and downhill. He sees things quickly. He’s the leader of the defense and keeps everybody aligned. He and Steele Chambers have been doing great, and you’re seeing Cody Simon do some things as well.
  • “Looking forward” to getting Tanner McCalister and Cam Martinez back. (Didn’t say when though.)
  • Julian Fleming plays big in both the run and pass game.
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba is progressing well. Nobody wants to get back more than JSN does. They’re taking it on a week-to-week basis and hopefully he keeps making progress and they can get him back on the field.
  • Wasn’t that long ago that they played Michigan State last year when MSU was the No. 9 team in the country. This will probably be the most skilled team they’ve played this year. They are tough at MSU.
  • MSU WR Jayden Reed is a problem one-on-one.
  • Have to do a good job of holding up MSU’s punt coverage unit. They are one of the best punt teams in the nation.
  • In the short-yardage packages they have done a good job of moving players and identifying the guys to move.
  • If you aren’t exhausted at night, then you’re not working hard enough for whatever it is you’re striving for. You should sleep well at night.
  • Every position group has a different “tip sheet” that they are giving on Fridays as reminders of what they’re facing. Coaches will also do tests.
  • The travel cap is 74, and they got a waiver to bring a captain who won’t be playing. You have to make hard decisions on guys who could be a game-time decision.
  • “Ohio against the world” has been brought up a couple of times this week.
  • Day’s last time playing Michigan State he watched it from home with COVID. It was surreal. There were a handful of offensive linemen out too. He hadn’t spent time with his family for like 7 weeks. Then he had to quarantine for 10 days. On his way home he bought two pizzas and a case of beer and when he got home he said “Daddy’s home.” It was a wild experience and Larry Johnson did a great job as the head coach.
  • The ref bounced Marvin Harrison out of bounds on his illegal touching penalty. Day asked the ref what happens when the ref bumps a player out of bounds. The ref did not have an answer.
  • They don’t take the crowd for granted. A lot of people want to see a good show. They’ve had half a million people in the stadium so far this season. That’s a responsibility for the team to give them a good time.
  • They have had conversations with a couple of players who are on the redshirt bubble.
  • Keenan Bailey’s role? Hard to put into words what he means to Day. Really smart football IQ. Great with the players.
  • They’ll get to some high school games next week, some practices as well. The most important thing is being with the team, but the bye week allows some freedom.

Go to discussion...