COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters for the final time before Saturday’s spring game. He discussed the upcoming finale and what he’ll be watching for from his squad(s). The highlights of everything that he had to say can be found below.
- The format for the Spring Game will be Scarlet (offense) vs Gray (defense) so that they can rotate the players the way they want. Ones vs ones, twos vs twos. The first couple of drives with the ones will be “thud” (non-tackling), but the rest will be tackle. The fourth quarter may have a running clock. Hoping for a good crowd. North of 50,000 seats sold so far.
- The conversation with the quarterbacks? Devin Brown has had a procedure on his hand so he won’t be able to play on Saturday. It’s nothing major and he’ll be back soon.
- It would be nice to have the quarterback situation be black and white. “Can’t tell you that it is right now.” It’s two guys competing and one day it’s one guy who has the upper hand and the next day it’s somebody else. It’s only 13 practices, so still not a ton of practices. They will continue to look at all of the throws and reps in practice and grade that.
- This is only a minor setback for Devin Brown because he’s only missing a couple of practices and then will be right back at it.
- The depth on the defensive line made it hard for them to split the defense into two squads.
- They have a dedicated person monitoring the transfer portal, which opens on Saturday. They have a board of needs and will see who shows up and if that would meet a need.
- There’s been some good things at right tackle, but they’re not ready to name a starter there. Nobody has really stepped up. Same thing at left tackle in terms of naming a starter. Will they look at tackle in the portal? That’s a conversation that will be had for a number of positions. “It’s a delicate situation for sure. I think we believe in the guys we have.” But they’re looking for more consistency. If you asked last year about Paris Johnson at left tackle, he was concerned a year ago at this time, and he stepped up.
- Justin Fields had a bad spring game in 2019, which left Day concerned leaving spring. Fields was only in the offense for a couple of months, so that played a part. Kyle McCord has been in it a lot longer than that.
- “We’re not crazy behind” on where he’d like to be at offensive line. They have gotten better. There have been flashes but there have also been things they need to get better at it.
- Josh Fryar is “getting there” at left tackle. It’s a different transition from right tackle to left tackle. It just comes down to consistency as a starter. He has the ability. If he increases his consistency he will lock it down.
- Miyan Williams will be available for the first couple of drives. There’s no long-term injury with him.
- The secondary has made great strides. “Been very impressed with our corners.” Denzel Burke is playing his best football right now. Had a huge interception in the two-minute drill the other day. Starting to see Jordan Hancock’s potential pop now that he’s completely healthy. Davison Igbinosun has been a great addition. He has raised the level of everybody in the room. Jyaire Brown has played both nickel and corner and has natural instincts. They have gotten more PBUs and they’re challenging throws. The safety position has been much more solid. Ja’Had Carter was playing well until his injury that slowed him down. He also raised the level of everybody else. It’s year two in the system with a couple of added pieces, so he’s been encouraged.
- Is recruiting momentum a real thing? When you see players commit and start recruiting others, it builds excitement. Then when the players visit, they see the foundation and the city and the excitement. “There is momentum.” That’s the great thing about committing early is that you get to help recruit your class. Recruits also give great feedback about their class.
- How do you assess turnovers or big plays in practice? You have to take some of the emotion out of evaluating. You identify what is really going on in practice and not get caught up in the emotion of the players’ reaction to big plays. If it becomes lopsided one way or the other, then there’s probably an issue. But you’re always evaluating. You also need to have each side win their share if you’re going to be a championship program.
- Is there a mantra this year? You don’t want to go away from your core values. They have “Fight” and “Tough Love.” The focus has been competition. It’s one thing to work hard, but it’s another thing to win against somebody doing the same thing. “When you’re going against your equal, how do you win?” This game is tough physically and tough emotionally, just look at the last six months here. They motivate through love. What would you do for your family? If you love your coaches and your teammates like you love your family, what would you do for them?
- How do you juggle the transfer portal when it comes to developing versus going and looking? It’s like the NFL Draft a little bit as well. They have been careful to add pieces. They have to sit down at the end of spring to figure out what they want to do.
- Quarterback Tristan Gebbia has played well but also been a part of staff meetings because he wants to be a coach. He’s basically an apprentice right now.
- Even when you bring somebody in from the portal, you don’t really know if they’re going to be as good as you think they are. Nobody in the country puts more into their own players than Ohio State.
- He is not the point person for NIL, but he is trying to circulate the conversation to everybody in order to normalize NIL because it’s not going anywhere and it’s a critical part of recruiting. “We’re going to need more and more help.”
- Are there more guard rails coming in NIL? “I hope so.” The struggles that he and others have is that there is nothing else like this out there. There isn’t anything to compare it to.
- Have you seen a difference in your coaching style this spring as a CEO? “I’m trying” but you would have to ask the other coaches. He’s trying to stay in the middle of the field.
- Brian Hartline and the offensive staff work together well. When it comes to play calling, he wants the plays to be called in terms of what’s best for the offense, not what they think he might want them to do.
- The tight ends have had a good spring. Jelani Thurman has played well and has a lot of potential. Not sure if he’s had a TE come in with that kind of potential.
- They rank everybody on offense and use that to figure out which packages to run more. “We want to put the best players on the field.”
- Tristan Gebbia has a mature approach on and off the field. You can tell that he’s played in games. The decisions are quick.
- Is the OL making mistakes or is it a weak link? You have to identify why the mistakes are happening. Is it lack of reps, coaching, scheme, or is the player not good enough? In the day-to-day of practice, it’s hard to figure that out. You have to step back after it’s over and see the common denominators. Day doesn’t think it’s because the guys can’t play. They just need more reps. “There’s a maturation there.”
- Assessment of Kyle McCord so far? Saturday is another step in his progression. He’s done some good things in the spring. He brings three years of experience, so he knows the offense. He does a great job in the meetings. Has made some really nice throws and is accurate. Has shown the ability to lead the team down the field to score.
- How comfortable would you be in Kyle McCord to start right now? “I don’t think anybody’s really ready to play right now.”
- Who is he looking forward to seeing on Saturday? The guys who haven’t played. Kenyatta Jackson, Davison Igbinosun, the freshmen. It will be fun for everyone else to see them.
- Devin Brown should have pretty much a full summer of throwing.
- Day’s involvement in play calling on Saturday? He’ll be on the headset but will let Brian Hartline call it. He probably won’t have the play sheet in front of him.
- “I think we’re going to sign a big class.”
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