COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Tuesday for his weekly question-and-answer session at the OSU football facility. He discussed last Saturday’s win over Penn State, talked plenty about his team, and also looked ahead a bit to this Saturday’s game against Northwestern. Also speaking with the media were defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and receivers coach Brian Hartline.
- He’s going to stick to the policy regarding injuries and leave it for the availability report. Miyan Williams’ injury was a strange situation. His hand and arm got caught up in the chains of the first-down marker. “The best thing I can say is it’s not serious.” The chain gang didn’t drop the sticks like they’re supposed to.
- He wants to get the running backs healthy. They need a full group in November down the stretch. It would also be nice to get Dallan Hayden and Chip Trayanum out on the film.
- Will he watch the CFP rankings? “I will not watch it.” They do deserve to be in the top four, but it doesn’t matter right now. He’ll be at practice or studying film.
- When you go to Penn State, the No. 1 goal is to win the game. You’re not concerned about doing something for other games down the road. They took care of the ball well and turned it on in the fourth quarter, but they have to do a better job of execution moving forward. You also have to measure risk. You don’t want to throw every down because if a ball gets tipped, it can be intercepted.
- How do you make sure you’re not tipping your hand? When they were in the pistol five times, they have four efficient runs. The question shouldn’t be why they run the ball 100% of the time out of the pistol, it should be why didn’t they run the ball more out of the pistol.
- They’re not going to just go be pass happy. You’re playing a good defense and you have to keep some balance. The fourth quarter, the running game opened up more.
- The delays of game were a result of a road environment and checks at the line. One of those early was his fault and he shouldn’t have done it.
- The false starts down by the goal line were a result of a tough environment and a tough task with the offensive line and Cade Stover. Stover was jumping when seeing a nose tackle jump offside, but only the players across from a defender who jumps offside can jump and not be called for a false start.
- Penn State played well at receiver. They made some good plays, but the corner play was better. Looking forward to get Cameron Brown back, but good to see Jordan Hancock out there and getting Denzel Burke into a rhythm.
- There were some run games that can be blocked better than they were. There’s nothing in the run game that is glaring. It’s not like “Oh my god, we can’t run the ball.” It’s not that they can’t see the hole or anything like that.
- Running tempo is a tool. You need tools to win games and tempo is most efficient when it’s a changeup as opposed to something you see all the time.
- They played 80 plays on defense against Penn State, so they were going to play more guys. Tyleik Williams has been practicing better. Larry Johnson did a nice job of rotating guys. Williams had some big plays as a fresh body. He is learning the game more and more every week. That entire room had a great day. It started with their attitude, even when the offense was on the field and they were cheering them on.
- Cade Stover was unbelievable on Saturday. He took out two guys on the 41-yard touchdown run. Had the 24-yard touchdown catch. He was leading the team on the field and the sideline. He does a lot of the dirty work and he embraces that. Stover was a mismatch offensively against Penn State and CJ Stroud to him.
- What about CJ Stroud in the fourth quarter of tight games? Every game is its own story. Here, not every game is the same. Some are blowouts, some of four-quarter battles. For CJ Stroud, he understands that the No. 1 thing is to win. That doesn’t mean yardage. He took care of the football. When it was time to put the pedal to the metal, he went and got it.
- Chip Trayanum is a full-time running back right now.
- The Penn State game reinforced the statement of competitive balance and playing complementary football with the offense and defense. You can’t relent on the competitive stamina. You have to embrace it. Every once in a while you have to remind the players and everybody in the building what’s at stake if you don’t bring it every single day. You have to remind yourself every now and then. This is the most competitive environment in the world. People are trying to take you out.
- Denzel Burke is practicing consistently. He’s playing every game at a high level. When you have an injury like he did, it takes a while to get back into playing shape. He’s there now. He is moving well and is comfortable in the system now.
- Every Sunday they have a Champions meeting. They recognize the guys who grade out as Champions. It’s a huge deal. Everybody claps for each guy. Reading out JT Tuimoloau’s stat line, it took a long time to get it all out. One of the most historic games in college football. That’s not an exaggeration.
- He is “absolutely” hopeful that Jaxon Smith-Njigba will play again this year. He believes they can achieve their goals without him. That’s why they build depth. But they definitely want him back.
- If you do something 100% of the time and it’s working, that’s fine. Their inefficiencies running the ball have not been about tipping their hand.
- Do you have concerns about the Michigan tunnel. “I’m not going to go down that road.” They do talk about it though.
- Paris Johnson is getting better every week. The more he plays, the more confidence he gets. The entire offensive line wants to get better. The more game reps they get, the better they’ll be.
- CJ Stroud has “the look” late in the game that you want your quarterbacks to have. People call it clutch. People all of a sudden don’t just become super-human, they just go back to their training and the moment is never too much for them.
- Did you see this season coming from Cade Stover? This started a couple of years ago when they sat down at talked. Day told him what he saw. It was a couple-year investment. He’s not sure Stover believed him or not. After the Rose Bowl, he had to embrace the defensive tenacity and brought it to offense. He’s a very good athlete and tough. The time he has put in is paying off.
- Tyleik Williams has really freakish athletic ability for his size. It’s just been about developing consistency in practice so that he earns those reps and those opportunities. He’s doing that. He’s always had the abilities.
- All of the big plays on offense count and they don’t get negated by turnovers. They had too many against Penn State. They have dealt with them.
- For the first year in a new system, the secondary has done a good job of defending the middle of the field. It’s like sitting on a cliff and you can’t back up. Good players will make plays on you if you back up.
- It is very unique to see a guy like JT Tuimoloau break on a ball for an interception. His skills overall are unique. His size and athleticism is just different. They have seen him do that in practice. Nobody was surprised. He’s had a lot of pressure on him and expectations. He’s kept his head on straight and his family has been great.
- What goes into trusting a DE to drop into coverage? You put it in as a change up. It changes the entire structure for a quarterback. How much you call it depends on how well the guys do.
- Was that the best performance by a DE you’ve ever seen? “Yes, it is the best.” It’s not describable. He dominated every phase of the game.
- They are hoping to increase the pitch count for Jordan Hancock.
- You break the tape down in detail on the plays that were missed. You show them where things went wrong so that it will be corrected the next time. It’s not something that they just started doing that week. They’ve been working on these things for a considerable amount of time. Tommy Eichenberg missed the tackle on fourth and one because his technique wasn’t perfect in that quick situation. They show them what happened and why it happened.
- JT Tuimoloau’s athleticism allows you to disguise more things. Everybody knows he can rush the passer, but now they can use him in different ways.
- What about the personality of Lathan Ransom and his playing style? He is one of those guys who never shows fear or frustration or fatigue. “I’m sure when he was one of those kids, he was probably one of those kids who just threw his body around.” He can run through a wall and not be phased by it.
- When you have “wreckers” on the defensive line, it allows you to do other things in the back end because you’re not trying to create something with a call using those guys from the back end. When you have guys who can win one-on-ones, it gives you more versatility.
- The competitive stamina here benefits the assistant coaches because the players are trained to precision and trained with that mindset. They gave up explosive plays and they have talked about them. He takes responsibility for those plays and then they address them. The job of the coaches is to lead and be steady. The players see that and model that.
- Everybody gets to enjoy the plays by JT Tuimoloau but he only gets about three seconds to soak it in before he has to get to the next play or focus on the next drive.
- The last drive of the game was frustrating, but it’s also a teaching moment. “Like I said, that just shows me let’s not cancel practice.”
- The freshmen receivers are doing well. Do they need to step up? They are seeing the older guys around them produce, so they’re buying in. There is a lot of football left this year. That will be critical for the spring. He has a good feel for where they’re at and where they’re going.
- Julian Fleming has done a great job. He has to continue to progress. Has to continue to take practice to the games. Then once you can do it like has, the question becomes how often. The momentum is building. He’s just scratching the surface. Hartline isn’t even sure what Fleming is fully capable of because the sky is the limit.
- Cade Stover is doing a phenomenal job. Where he was last spring to where he is now, is impressive. The entire tight end room has grown. Stover has brought so much to the offense. “We probably wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for Cade…” He has developed into a great player.
- He’s watching former Buckeye WR Sam Wiglusz at Ohio. They’re not shocked. They gave him rave reviews. “We always knew what he was and what he was capable of.” They talk every couple of weeks. “He’s killing it. We all love Sammy.” Football is a team sport so you don’t always need extraordinary ability to be valuable. Consistency is important and he is a consistent player. They are rooting for him for sure.
- Is he playing the top three guys too much? The development of the receivers happens during the week more than it does on Saturday. They have guys that can step in when roles are needed, like Xavier Johnson and Jayden Ballard. He is comfortable with those two in games when needed and as the scheme allows.
- What has he liked and not liked about the way Marvin Harrison and Emeka Egbuka have stepped up? There’s a lot to like. They hold themselves to a higher standard than the coaches do. That’s a large reason of why they are where they are now. They expected this. It also reflects how they practice and how they work, along with Julian Fleming. Choosing this room requires a lot of room and it carries expectations with it. Anything he doesn’t like? “No. You love it all.” It’s about doing it, then doing it more than once, then doing it routinely.
- How is Jaxon Smith-Njigba doing mentally? He’s beating himself up, but he’s been better this week. He wants to play in the worst way. He’s doing a great job of not being a distraction. He’s frustrated as a competitor. Level of confidence he will be back? “Huge level of confidence.”
- How much work goes into a QB and WR trusting each other during a game? Trust is a body of work. They’ve done a great job of understanding each other on routes.
- Does Marvin Harrison have an NFL-level of work ethic? “Call it what it is, it’s beyond professional.” There are a lot of guys in this OSU room that work better than pros do. But the goal isn’t just getting there, it’s staying there. The NFL is awesome, but these guys have overachieved that from a work ethic standpoint.
- It’s huge to have receivers — past and present — to turn to for the younger guys and show them how to do everything correctly. There are great examples throughout the WHAC.
- How long does it take a freshman to “get” the culture and to start to produce? It’s dependent on the person. How would Terry McLaurin have fit into these expectations today? Or Parris Campbell? Everybody has their own path. Jayden Ballard is doing a great job, but it’s a different path than Marvin Harrison or Emeka Egbuka. You start to see guys turn the corner into the spring their second year, or by the end of their first year at times.
- Being able to just operate healthy has been huge for Julian Fleming. Just existing without pain is huge for anybody.
- Ohio State’s receivers have dropped five passes all year. What goes into that? It’s work and it’s an appreciation for each snap. You want Saturdays to feel like a practice. The approach in the game needs to be the same in terms of valuing every single rep. They had guys catching balls for two hours after the Penn State because of a drop.
- Describe CJ Stroud when the game is on the line. “His calm definitely provides a lot of confidence.” He has grown in that area, which some guys don’t do. You can feel the maturity and growth on the sideline. Everybody feels it and sees it.
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