Ryan Day Ohio State Buckeyes Head Coach

Ryan Day, Jim Knowles Preview Michigan Matchup

COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with the media for his lone availability during Michigan Week. He previewed Saturday’s matchup against the Wolverines and answered questions about his team and the game for 20 minutes. Following Day, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles answered questions as well. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

Ryan Day

  • What is different about Michigan’s defense this year? Very similar, different players. They play hard. One of the best defenses in the country.
  • Is Dallan Hayden “starter caliber?” It’s hard to say, but he has definitely stepped up and taken care of the football. He needs to have a good week of practice like everyone else.
  • How do you prepare for a possibly injured Blake Corum? They expect him to play. He is a great player. They will prepare for all of UM’s running backs.
  • This is the first game in Columbus since 2018: “It’s been a while.” It’s going to mean a lot to a lot of people. He has learned a lot over his time at Ohio State about why this means so much to so many.
  • How much of the mentality of this team is shaped by last year’s game? You are shaped by your past “and we have scars.” They are focused on playing the hardest game they’ve ever seen.
  • They would like guys to practice if they’re going to play, but this is week 12 and they are veteran players who have played a lot of football, so if they can’t practice, they may still be able to play.
  • This is one of the greatest rivalries there is in the country. Any time you’re fighting like this there will be fiction. They try to focus on themselves and respect the rivalry by working it every day.
  • Is this game a referendum on what OSU is? His opening presser when he was hired he was asked about this game and that’s what it all comes down to.
  • There is no hiding from the result of this game so you have to address it so that you’re ready the next time out.
  • If need be, they have options to replace Matt Jones at right guard. That will be decided during the week based on how Jones is playing and how the other guys have done it. Josh Fryar has mostly been a tackle this year, along with the extra tight end role. He has experience going inside and outside.
  • What’s the best way to handle revenge? You can’t just get yourself going “the week of.” You have to address the issues. You can’t get distracted by emotions. You have to utilize every single minute. Every time a minute leaves their countdown clock, that’s one less minute to prepare for the game.
  • Is the win over Clemson in 2020 instructive for this game and situation? “We haven’t talked about that…but the guys felt the pain last year.” “I know you’re going to get an excited team.” But they need an unbelievable week of practice.
  • Have the focused on the game more after last year’s loss than other years? There’s a balance. You need to be reminded of what happened in the past, but the focus is on this team playing against that team. But it certainly lights a fire every time it comes to mind.
  • Message to the fans: “we need to be as loud as we possibly can.” It needs to be a hostile environment.
  • Any other processes change this year other than moving Senior Tackle? No, that was the only change. Last year felt rushed with the way it was done. It’s not the first time it has been moved in OSU history.
  • How do you leave no stone unturned? “Not a lot of sleep.” How much sleep will he get this week? “Not much.”
  • The defense is a year more mature. Combine that with the scheme and that’s where you get an improved defense.
  • Is a 100% Dallan Hayden better than an 80-85% TreVeyon Henderson or Miyan Williams? It’s definitely worth a conversation. The film says a lot.
  • How do you play with emotion but not too much emotion? There’s the emotion leading up to the game, which is why you need a routine. Then during the game you have to play with emotion and you can’t let emotion playing with you. You need toughness, discipline, and skill. They have not deviated from that all season.
  • They are 11-0 but they have not reached any of their three goals yet — beating Michigan, winning the Big Ten, and winning a national title. That doesn’t mean he isn’t proud of this team, but the goals still remain.
  • Why is Ohio Stadium such a good home-field advantage? “First off, we have the best fans in the land. Our guys enjoy playing in our stadium. It’s a hostile environment. It’s a hard place to play in.” “It’s been a while since we’ve played this game at home. I know it’s going to be an electric environment.”
  • Assess the running game against Maryland: Several guys graded out as champions. Maryland did a good job. Ohio State got into more of a rhythm in the second half. It was blocked a little cleaner but they hit the hole better in the second half too.
  • How much of the comments from Michigan’s coaches last year have been on your mind? Things are said. You see it, you read it. You try to ignore it. But sometimes it matters who says it. But at the end of the day they lost and they had to figure out why. They don’t get caught up in other peoples’ opinions. They move forward.
  • How tough can it be to rein in the emotions? That’s the balance you try to find. “It is extremely emotional, but you also have a job and you have to go play a game.”
  • How much pressure do you feel to win this game? Any time you’re here and you’re playing in this game, you’re going to feel it. You know what’s on the line. But he’s not thinking about any of that. It’s about preparation and playing with hard. When it’s done, you can look back and see where all the tally marks are.
  • If you win will it be more joy or relief? Ask again after the game. The focus is on preparation and what to call on first, second, and third down.
  • When somebody says you’ve been born on third base and think you hit a triple, what kind of insult is that to you? Now is not the time to talk about that stuff. Maybe another time.
  • What has shown him that the team is tough enough? When you talk to the other coaches after the game, you ask them “what do you think?” They get good feedback from other coaches. “All of that building was to get to right here.”
  • What does having to win games in the fourth quarter do for a team? It builds toughness, confidence, and resilience.
  • What are the conversations like when deciding if a true freshman is ready for this game? There is a blueprint that has been laid down in the past. The no. 1 thing is taking care of the football. Dallan Hayden has been preparing and building.

Jim Knowles

  • Tommy Eichenberg playing with two broken hands is pretty tough, right? “Tommy is as tough as they come. As tough as any player I’ve been around. He epitomizes what we want to be as a defense and as a program because nothing is going to stop him.”
  • What do you think of the rivalry? “It’s a privilege to be a part of it.” When you’re a guy who has worked his way up to this spot, there’s no time for reflection. When you’re young in this profession you look at it as the pinnacle of competition.
  • He doesn’t think about what happened to last year’s defense in this game. He knows the charge for this year and he’s embraced that.
  • How does this rivalry stack up to other rivalries you’ve been a part of? There is the same thread through every rivalry — intensity. But this is the biggest stage this is. You take all of it and ramp it up by a thousand and go from there. You stay focused and do your job in the midst of it.
  • Handling JJ McCarthy’s mobility? “We have a hard-charging aggressive defensive line.” Any time you have guys who get after it, scrambling can be an issue. They will continue to work on it. It’s definitely an issue when you have guys who get after the quarterback, and it’s his job to fix it.
  • How do you scheme to stop a mobile quarterback. There are ways. He’s not going to get technical. You put plans together but ultimately it comes down to your athletes versus their athlete.
  • Where does UM’s rushing attack stack up? Kansas State in the Big XII was tough. It’s difficult to simulate the way that UM runs the ball. You have to go back to your habits and your training. Make sure everybody knows that everybody has to tackle.
  • The Jack position will be a tool against the run this week. It allows them to better handle all of the things that Michigan throws at a defense.
  • He hasn’t put any time into looking at last year’s game.
  • Last week’s assessment? I thought it was great when we made key stops and it sucked when they didn’t. The competitive excellence has been developed. The defense hasn’t been perfect but when the time has come to make plays, they have done it.
  • How much weight on your shoulders for this game? “The job is the job.” The process is the same but the expectations are different here. You keep your habits and process intact because that’s what has led to your success. But you feel the pressure. You have to stay focused on the moment. “What can I do to give us an advantage. That’s the only thing that’s always on my mind.” “It’s never not on my mind. Not ever.”
  • Blake Corum thoughts: They are not spending any time wondering if he’s not going to play. They expect him to play. Corum is disciplined and he understands angles. You have to take your shot when you have it and play the appropriate angles.

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