COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Tuesday to discuss his Buckeyes team and their bye week plans. Also speaking with the media were defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and offensive line coach Justin Frye. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
- This is a good time for the bye week. A lot of times you don’t want to break up the good rhythm, but this is good timing.
- The team will practice this week.
- The team doesn’t care about national attention right now. All they’re focused on is the next game.
- Today, tomorrow, and Thursday will be practice days. They will take some time to evaluate the coaching and players in the program this week. They want to get healthy and get guys healed up while also still working good on good and on fundamentals.
- They need to do a better job of fielding punt and kick returns. They have some good time right now to look at the groupings and personnel.
- The balance in getting Kyle McCord good reps is tough because you want to respect the game and the opponent, but you’d like to get him meaningful reps. He had a couple of good reps in terms of experience against MSU, but Day didn’t want to go overboard.
- This is a good time for the cornerbacks to focus on what they’ve done well and where they need to improve. They haven’t quite finished as well as they need. Denzel Burke played his best game of the season. “We gotta learn to finish, especially in one-on-one situations.”
- The corners just need to find the ball, and the coaches need to put them in those positions more and more to help them.
- You’re seeing what Lathan Ransom is capable of this year. He’s intelligent and athletic. He covered a lot of ground on his interception, and he came down with it. You’re seeing the best version of Ransom.
- Jordan Hancock needs to start off by getting some games under his belt. They thought he might compete for a starting job before the season.
- How would he describe the offense? They just try to find different ways to attack the defense based on the guys they have. Ten to 15 years ago, the spread was the thing, but defenses have caught up to that, so you have to be more creative in finding other surfaces to make plays on. There is a fine line. “It’s not easy here. We do a lot of stuff.” They’re not just going to run the same plays every week. But the players embrace the challenge of new things. But they also know what the base of this offense is. You can see the excitement the team has when new plays work, because that’s not easy to do.
- Halfway through the year for CJ Stroud? The first thing you notice is that his movement has been improved, both designed and not designed. His red zone play has been excellent, including throwaways. Overall, his leadership, vision, accuracy, all the above have been good.
- Why are there more injuries in CFB this year? He doesn’t have the data to back up his feelings that there are more injuries around the sport and he’s not sure why there are so many injuries this year. But having depth has been a positive for the team this year. Guys have been challenged and responded very well.
- CJ Stroud is not concerned about statistics. He is playing to win and wants to be a leader for his teammates. When you play like that, it carries over to your team. Naturally his stats are good and he’s playing at a high level, but he’s focused on winning. There are no expectations for stats going into a game. It’s never been about Stroud personally, it’s always been about the team and winning.
- You’re seeing the experience paying off from the growing pains last year. There were so many “first times” last season compared to this year. The depth has been strong and the leadership has been very good. Those leaders have calmed the nerves of the young guys like JK Johnson and Jyaire Brown who haven’t played.
- When they went for it on fourth and 1, they had a lot of time to talk about it because of a timeout. They had a good play to run against the defense they were expecting, so they went with it. Then they scored a touchdown on the next play. Those are the kinds of plays that you need to propel you forward in each game.
- TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams are unique because they understand that they need each other. They make each other better. They understand that when somebody else goes in and they run well, that’s not a surprise. They have some different running styles, which keeps a defense on its heels. They also have packages with both of them that they could use.
- Going into today’s meeting, they will go over the injury report. For “a bunch of those guys” the expectation is that they will have a full week of practice next week and play against Iowa.
- Still hoping to get Kam Babb back. Probably not for the Iowa game though.
- The more the offense can do, the more stress they put on a defense to prepare for everything they do. When you have smart players on offense like they do, you can put a lot on them. The intent is to have more than one new thing for the offense every single game.
- Game reps in blowouts is important and it’s different than practice reps.
- He’s always felt that the end of blowouts is not the time to continue piling on points.
- These three days will be good for the corners better and then give them a break. So they need to create game situations that help the corners practice finding the ball without “blowing their doors off.” They want to make practice harder than the game.
- On helping the corners, you want to make practice as game-like as possible. The Buckeyes have the best receivers in the country, but you have to balance the number of reps in order to avoid injury. You want to create as many competitive situations as you can in order to get them better.
- If an offense is taking shots at one particular position on defense, it’s his responsibility to look at what that is happening and if they are tipping something or leaving something open.
- If you are creating pressure with just four linemen, it gives you more options in terms of coverage and looks, both pre-snap and post-snap.
- Everything they get from Lathan Ransom has been a bonus for the defense because Knowles didn’t know how much to expect from him this year. But he’s decisive and very talented and a great story to tell.
- You have to know your players when it comes to substituting and rotating guys. Position battles happen, but if it’s a drastic change, you make sure the players, parents, and the whole group is aware of why things are changing. Players put a lot of work in this life they lead, so you have to be up front with them. If it’s a close battle week to week, not much needs to be said. When it comes to reps, most of the time that comes down to the position coach. But both he and Ryan Day will weigh in if they feel they need to. Once a guy is deemed “game ready” it is up to the position coach to determine playing time.
- “I’m pleased with where we’re at in the run game. We can be better, but I’m just pleased with the way we’re fitting things and they way we’re playing fast.” Guys know the scheme and know where the ball is going to pop out. Third downs have pleased him, but there is more they can do. “We’re just starting to approach the level” where they want to be. They have to be better at the 50/50 balls. The reality of playing defense is that you can be great all game and still have an offense throw up a couple of balls and come down with two touchdowns.
- Mike Hall is coming off of an injury, so they limited his snaps. “Mike loves to play.” They wanted to ease him back into the lineup in a way that allowed him to be aggressive and it worked out well.
- Steele Chambers is making continually progress all the time. He’s smart. Enjoys playing. Has picked things up well. What you see in Tommy Eichenberg is advanced. He’s not the norm.
- Will they install anything new in a bye week? There are things they’ve installed that they haven’t shown yet. It’s not always wise to install something and play it that week. It’s good to install it and break it out a couple of weeks later. It allows them to stay a couple weeks ahead.
- What are the differences between Lathan Ransom and Josh Proctor? Ransom has versatility in that he can play both Adjuster and Bandit. He sees the concepts in a broader spectrum. Proctor is really good when he has a specific assignment and direction and can just unleash and play fast. Ransom can play Bandit but thinks and sees the game like an Adjuster. Those two are week-to-week competitors positionally. One guy might be banged up during the week, so there’s a lot of things that most people don’t see when they decide who plays. They are both game ready.
- How has Steele Chambers stepped up as a leader? He is always a positive player. “That’s his contribution from a leadership or mentality standpoint.” He doesn’t let one play bleed into the next. He has a next-play attitude and his vision is towards keeping the defense at its best. Even when Knowles is hard on him in practice, he keeps his focus forward.
- Does it help the defense play with more freedom knowing the Buckeyes are going to score 30+ points? That’s a tough question to answer because his job is to prepare them to make a stop on each series no matter what the score is. “I have to drive that point home for when and if there’s a time things are more competitive.” That’s not something that you can just turn on. That’s a good question for the players. It probably helps.
- What is missing in the 50/50 defense? They talk a lot about winning at the line of scrimmage. Some of the plays that didn’t go in their favor, if you look at the start, maybe the corner didn’t throw his best punch at the line of scrimmage. But then when the ball is in the air, you look at where the bodies and hands are. There are a lot of technique that you can use, but you have to melt what is best for each player with the technique. You have to ask why a certain player is being attacked and so Knowles needs to look at that and see what is happening, why it’s happening, and if he needs to do something about it.
- Asked if MIke Hall is becoming the “Oh no guy” for opponents. “I like to see Mike [Hall] in there. For me he’s the ‘Oh yes’ guy.”
- Mike Hall’s success starts in the weight room, same for every defensive lineman. They have also attacked the sleds more in order to make sure they are more physical at the line of scrimmage.
- If you are a pass rusher, there’s really no difference between playing 3-tech and 5-tech, so they like Mike Hall doing that, just like they like Zach Harrison moving from the edge to the 3 on passing downs.
- Caden Curry is a football player. “Put him on the field and he’ll find a way to make a play.” They hope to continue getting him more reps.
- The defensive line doesn’t care who gets the credit. They play as a group and they are all successful when the ball gets stopped in the backfield.
- The opposing offensive lines are losing one-on-one matchups to the Ohio state defensive line. The defensive ends require attention on both sides, leaving three offensive linemen to handle the interior guys, and that’s causing problems for offenses. The inside and outside guys are working very well together and they are equally important and disruptive.
- There is still a lot on the table for the Jack package for the Buckeyes. Jack Sawyer and Javontae Jean-Baptiste continue to learn that position, but they also have to continue to play defensive end. The two positions are similar but they have different techniques.
- Let’s break down Mike Hall. He’s been hurt and they wanted to limit his reps. They decided to just use him as a rusher. He was the guy getting the one-on-ones, and he did a great job winning.
- The biggest defense on this defense from now to last year? It’s a totally different philosophy than any defense he’s been a part of. Jim Knowles sees the game well and calls a great game. When a defense knows what it’s doing, they play faster.
- The defense isn’t getting a lot of plays because of the three-and-outs, so you have to keep starters in longer to get them the reps they need. When you only play 55 plays, it’s hard to get the starters the 30-40 plays you’d like them to have.
- Why are they better against the run this year? They’re older this year and more experienced. They also have done some scheme changes that allows them to be more solid at line of scrimmage.
- There are some alpha dogs on the defensive line, but he’s not going to name any front runner just yet.
- Frye loves the line’s weekly approach. They find something each week to work on and the players look forward to that each week.
- The offensive line is doing a good job of situational awareness and understanding short-yardage situations. They understand why the coaches are calling what they’re calling. Players realize that first and 10 is different than third and 1, so they will see different attacks from a defense. They continue to learn more and more each week.
- They use the bye week to look at what they’ve done well and they haven’t done well. Where you think you have done well, you might find out that the defense has simply mis-fit it.
- Ryan Day does a good job of scripting practices to allow good on good. Having to block the Ohio State defensive line puts good reps in the bank for the OL to draw on.
- Does the OSU OL hold JT Tuimoloau as much as the opponents? “We never hold.”
- Paris Johnson challenges himself every week to be better. Frye has a plan of attack each week for Paris and also understands that Paris is going to ask something else and want more input on something else. His whole world is trying to get better and wanting to correct mistakes from the previous week.
- When the players crave knowledge, it’s a ton of fun to coach them.
- Do you have any favorite snappy sayings? You have to give guys to latch on to when you teach them. “Trimming the fat” is about making sure the players aren’t thinking about too much of what’s going on with the defense.
- Matt Jones dealing with a foot injury? Jones has never played a full season so now he’s learning what that’s like. You’re never going to feel great when you wake up in the morning because that’s the nature of the position. It’s not hampering him at all, but they will try to get other guys in there late in a game or in practice so they can build depth. Enokk Vimahi has been great in emergency situations twice already this season. That’s competitive excellence.
- The OL seems to be handling the DLs’ weekly plans of attack? That goes back to practicing against the OSU defensive line and what they see each week. They are prepared to face other defensive line game plans. They may not have seen the exact attack in a game that they saw in practice, but they’ve seen similar and by very talented defensive linemen.
- How would you rate the OL on their toughness? They rate it every week and they have rated well each week. But you have to bring it each week.
- What is it like game planning with this OSU offensive staff? “Have you seen the movie ‘The Hangover?'” “That’s a bad joke.” It’s very involved and takes a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun because you’re watching a lot of football.
- How has he brought new stuff to the offense? It’s not him, it’s the game planning that goes on in the room with the other coaches. These guys have all been around a lot of different offenses. They’ve tailored the offense to the guys they have.
- Dawand Jones is playing football better than he ever has “because he wants to.” He’s working extra and taking better care of his body. All of that leads to becoming a better player. Those changes become more important as you get more mature, and that’s where Jones is now. He understands why he is better now and he’s continued to train in ways that will further his improvement.
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