Ryan Day Press Conference Buckeyes

Ryan Day, Jim Knowles Talk Opening Of Spring Ball

COLUMBUS — Ohio State opened spring practice on Tuesday, and following that practice, head coach Ryan Day met with reporters for 20 minutes to answer questions about his football team. Following Day, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles answered questions from the media as well. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

Ryan Day

  • Marvin Harrison is one of the guys back at punt returner this spring as they look to build depth there, especially without Emeka Egbuka available. Spring allows them to try new things. They will always look for ways to get Marvin Harrison involved with the game plan. “We’re going to try to build his tools.”
  • Where are you happy and concerned about depth? Running back and receiver and tight end is strong. Feel good about that. This is the first time they’ve had three quarterbacks on scholarship in the spring in a while. Offensive line is being built. Defensively, up front, he feels good about the first “group and a half.” Same with linebacker. Have to keep building the depth at those positions. They have added defensive backs through the portal to build the depth at both safety and cornerback. The secondary will shake out more through scrimmages.
  • Sonny Styles showed what he can do in year one. They are always trying to find the first 11 guys and build from there. In the role Styles played last year, Day couldn’t have been more impressed. He can do a lot of things for the team this year.
  • Davison Igbinosun wants to compete for a starting job, and he’ll have that opportunity. He had a good offseason and has established himself as somebody who works. That’s not always easy to do for transfers. Day has been impressed with the offseason by Denzel Burke. Had a really good first day too. Jordan Hancock had a good day. They’re all grown up now.
  • How much should a QB run in this offense and where does the QB race stand right now? It’s just day one, so there’s a long way to go. In an ideal world, how much should a QB run? You just want the defense to have to account for him. Each quarterback is different in how they run and how much they want to and how effective they are at it.
  • What’s the relationship with Jim Knowles? “Great relationship.” Now seeing a full year of the defense and how it adapts and what it looks like, Day is more familiar with it and able to give more feedback.
  • Do they have enough scholarship players available defensively right now? It will be good to get guys in the summer, but the numbers right now still allow them to run three teams. “Right now our numbers are pretty good.” If people get hurt, they’ll make some adjustments.
  • He spent the first half of practice roaming around from position to position, but was back at quarterback by the second half of practice.
  • Mitchell Melton has been cleared for individual drills. They will likely not push him beyond that. They were excited about him last year in the spring. They are going to be smart and bring him back the right way.
  • Day one install in the spring has been the same for the last seven years or so.
  • Josh Fryar has moved to left tackle and he feels comfortable there. He didn’t look out of place today. Zen Michalski and Tegra Tshbola will battle for the right tackle spot.
  • Dallan Hayden has added a little bit of weight and has a better understanding of everything right now, which could lead to more playing time. He just needs to keep building and being consistent with his assignments. “All indications are he’s going to be able to do that.”
  • The second-year receivers are going to “get really pushed by this freshman group.” The three true freshmen have been really impressive. This is going to be a big opportunity for all of those first and second-year guys.
  • Freshman tight end Jelani Thurman has all of the tools. He plays a developmental position and there is a lot going on, but he has the mentality and competitiveness as well. He just needs a ton of reps.
  • Davison Igbinosun at 6-foot-2, he shows physicality. He got his hands on guys today. He can also play zone and cover a lot of ground and get more hands on football. He’s a confident and experienced players.
  • What are you looking for from the QBs that will give you confidence? Need to see leadership, and he saw and heard that today. After good plays or bad plays, he wants to see them be vocal and lead. They did that. They will have a great supporting cast. The QB doesn’t need to be super human.
  • They have had to keep TreVeyon Henderson out of the mix. Henderson jumped into mat drills wearing a boot and Mickey Marotti had to kick him out. His attitude has been unbelievable. He’s been a positive influence on his teammates. Can’t wait to get him back, just not sure if it will be in the spring.
  • Lincoln Kienholz is playing basketball right now so they’re still getting him some of the offense as he’s dealing with state playoffs. The guys who are not yet enrolled are being sent assignments and are sending back film on work they’re doing. That’s how they get them ready to hit the ground running in the summer.
  • Caden Curry made plays at the start of last season, but leveled off as the season went on. He picked it up in the offseason. They need to see this spring how they want to continue to utilize him. He is one of the guys they could look at to fit into the Jack position. He has a lot of those skills at that position.
  • The battle at right tackle between Zen Michalski and Tegra Tshabola will be an adjustment for both players. Tshabola got a lot of reps with the twos last year so he’s got a lot of potential. This is a big year for Michalski. Year three. But they need to see them with the pads on.
  • Devin Brown wearing No. 33? The first thing Day thought of was Larry Bird. It’s a family number for Brown and Day has no problem with it. He told Brown he’s going to stand out with that number, so Day’s fine with that.

Jim Knowles

  • Does Sonny Styles need to be a starter? When you look at the best 11 players for this defense, he’s a guy that the staff is going to point at and say they need to find a way to get in there. He held his own against Georgia. “I think he’s got all kinds of skills.” They’ve got to experiment with him this spring to find a position that is effective for him and the defense.
  • CJ Hicks is a great athlete. Good kid, good energy. Good team guy, and that’s worth saying because he came in as a 5-star “Mr. Everything,” and he handled not playing last year. He plays a position that is close to the ball, so it requires a lot of learning. Knowles is just looking for improvement this spring. He has not put any type of timeline on him.
  • Could CJ Hicks be involved as the Jack position? “I’ve thought about that for CJ.” When he is directed, he gets from point A to point B quickly. They may not be doing much Jack this spring. They didn’t use it as much as he had hoped last year. It just never developed. Mitchell Melton will be involved at that position as well, and since he’s not ready, they’re not going to focus too much on the Jack in the spring. Instead, they’ll just do fundamentals.
  • Mitchell Melton moved from linebacker when Jim Knowles got here last year. He jumped out as a Jack last year to both Knowles and Larry Johnson.
  • Jack Sawyer will be a defensive end this spring and just work on the fundamentals of being an end. That’s important for Sawyer. He didn’t have the opportunity to improve as a defensive end last year because
  • Devin Brown can run around. Kyle McCord manages the game really well. They both have their strengths. This will be a big spring reading defenses.
  • Davison Igbinosun looked good out there today. He picks things up and breaks on the ball. He has real length. Got his hands on a lot of balls. He was quick to mix it up too. He’s got that Jersey toughness. Has SEC experience. “I just think he’s going to bring a lot of competition to the position.”
  • Denzel Burke was great today. He stood out all offseason as well. His physical development, the way he competed. He had the defensive staff go through a draft to see what the coaches think of each player. Burke always came out great in that draft. He got his hands on more balls today than maybe he did all last season.
  • This is a different age. Times are changing. They don’t participate in the transfer portal all that much. So they are picky with who they go get. They grabbed two starters at power five programs in Ja’Had Carter and Davison Igbinosun. And both guys bring great competition, both for the positions they’re battling for, and also the offensive guys they’re working against. Everybody knows how they defense performed last year. His defense always takes a little bit longer in the secondary to get up to speed. Adding those two guys pushes everybody else and makes the secondary better.
  • Why didn’t they go with the Jack as much as he wanted last year? He thought they’d be able to get it up to a third of the defense or 60/40. By the time he left Oklahoma State, it was almost 100% of the time. But they just weren’t as productive with it when it was out there. They used it maybe 15% of the time. There is still a long-term plan with that. They can recruit to it. That’s a position that no other teams have, so they can target it and get the best in the nation.
  • Knowles wants to rotate the linebackers more this year. Cody Simon is going to play himself into more snaps this season. That will help them stay healthier. Then with CJ Hicks and Gabe Powers, you’re looking for that leap from year one to year two. Can they show that they’re ready to play. You want them to force you to put them on the field. Reid Carrico is bouncing around a little bit right now. He’s playing the Sam against 12 personnel some. They definitely want him to make a push on special teams.
  • When you recruit the Jack position, where is that guy in high school right now? Linebacker? Defensive end? It can be a tailback, like the first guy he had Jason Babin at Western Michigan. It may be a guy who isn’t big enough, or doesn’t read well enough, but isn’t a top guy at another position. There is a role for those guys if they can handle it.
  • What happened in the last two games last year? “Boy, you had to bring that up didn’t you? I was feeling so good and positive.” They went back and looked at what worked and failed. On the failures, you look at what was called and see if there was something that can be done to protect those players. That’s hard to do from week to week. That’s something he’s doing more now with an offseason.

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