After a month of a media blackout, on Monday, interim head coach Ryan Day met collected media for the first time since temporarily taking over the program. Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was also on hand to answer questions; you can see his answers towards the bottom of the page.
With just five days before the season opener against Oregon State, there have been a lot of questions left unanswered about the Buckeye team throughout the fall because of how little access media—and by extension fans—have had to the program during camp.
In the game-week press notes, Ohio State notes that the football team will play 11 Power 5 teams this season, tied for the most in the country with Big Ten brethren Purdue and Northwestern.
Also, the Buckeyes currently sit at 898 all-time wins, which means that whenever they get to their second win of the season (lookin’ at you Rutgers), they will become only the second program in NCAA history to do so, following TTUN.
Urban Meyer Investigation and Suspension
- Day did not answer any questions about the investigation, but did have an opening statement.
- He acknowledged that there has been a lot of pain over the last few weeks, but they team has been working hard, and how adversity reveals character, and that the players and coaches have gotten better because of everything that they’ve gone through.
- Day said, “I can sit here and tell you, over the past few weeks, our team has gotten stronger. The team, the players and the coaches have gotten stronger.”
- Day praised and thanked Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson for everything that they’ve done for him throughout this process. “Everything along the way has been a group effort,” Day said.
- The interim head coach said that two of the things that motivated them throughout the process has been the brotherhood that the team shares, and the pride of being a Buckeye, and working for the legions of fans around the state.
- Day said, “My goal in this thing is not to replace coach.” He says that he’s been taking everything day-by-day (no pun intended).
- He adds that he believes that the coaching staff is the best in the country. He said that he’s learned a lot from Schiano and Wilson throughout the past few weeks.
- Day admits that balancing all of his responsibilities has been a challenge, and that he’s felt like he was “drinking through a fire hose” at times. He said that he is learning by being thrown into the fire.
- He said that Chip Kelly texted him early on, and said, “You’re built for this.”
- He said that he will be on the sideline calling the plays working with Wilson.
- Day said that it wasn’t until after the suspension announcement last week did he notice the scandal impacting the team.
- He said, “Wednesday, when press conference happened, it happened late at night. We were up early in the morning and they looked a little tired. But up unto that point, the energy was amazing. Ninety-eight percent of the time, from when this started to right now, it’s been great.”
- Day praised the culture at Ohio State for requiring them to be focused throughout all of the craziness.
- In terms of the game plan, Day said that a team finds its identity throughout practices, so there are minor adjustments, but the culture and plan to win will always be consistent at Ohio State.
- The interim head coach admitted that he was surprised when he was asked to take the position. “It really caught me off guard.”
- “Mickey Marotti is the heart and soul of this program.” Day credits Coach Mick with being the one who keeps the program together behind the scenes.
- Day says that he’s never seen Urban Meyer’s memory issues impact his ability to coach.
Dwayne Haskins and Quarterback Room
- Day said that Haskins has stepped up into an even bigger leadership role throughout the fall, but he still needs to do more as he prepares for his first collegiate start.
- Day said that Tate Martell made a lot of process throughout the fall, especially in the last two weeks.
- He said, “Tate made a really big push. Dwayne will start on Saturday and he’s the starter. But the plan is to play Tate. How, when, we don’t know. But all the reps that were had were split between the two.”
- Day said, “Dwayne will start on Saturday and he is the starter, but the plan is for Tate to play.”
- He added that with Matthew Baldwin still recovering from a knee injury, both Haskins and Martell got a lot of snaps during the fall.
- Day says that Haskins worked on his strength and power during the off-season.
- Day said that with the addition of former WVU quarterback Chris Chugunov the Buckeyes are now at 85 scholarship athletes. He declined to comment further if that means that someone else is no longer on scholarship.
- “The thing we talk about with Dwayne is he doesn’t have to be J.T.,” Day said, “he doesn’t have to be Braxton, he doesn’t have to be Cardale… you have to find your own way to lead.”
- Day also announced that Michael Jordan will open the season as the starting center. Demetrius Knox will play right guard, Malcolm Pridgeon will play at left guard. Thayer Munford and Joshua Alabi will split time at left tackle, and Isaiah Prince will be the right tackle.
- Talking about the team’s wide receivers, Day said, “They’re all going to play. We have a great depth there, which I think makes us really strong... We have three captains in the wide receiver group alone, so a lot of leadership there... But the plan, early on, is to play everybody.”
- Day said that K.J. Hill will mostly play in the inside, but is available on the outside if need be.
- He also said that Demario McCall has improved now that he’s focused on being a wide receiver. This week of practice will determine how much he will play on Saturday.
- Day says that the team has been very healthy, and that— despite minor injuries— there is a chance that everyone could play on Saturday.
- He added that Branden Bowen has still been dealing with the leg injury that he suffered last season. The recovery has been slower than Bowen had anticipated, but he is working to get back.
- Day said that recruiting is all about relationships, so as they’ve been talking to recruits on a daily basis, they have told players and their families to ask the tough questions. The staff might not have all of the answers, but they want to hear them.
- He mentioned that this process has seemingly bound the recruits together to make them an even more cohesive unit than they were before.
- On discussing the implementation of Day as the interim head coach, he said, “Whenever you have a situation like this, it’s very complex.”
- Schiano added, “We have some great leadership. I’m looking forward to going out and coaching football again, in a game.”
- About the Tennessee coaching debacle from earlier this season, Schiano said, “Certainly things like that are tough to stomach. But now is not the time (to discuss that).”
- The coach said, “I thought we had an outstanding camp, and it’s a testament to those players first, and the leadership of the whole squad.”
- Schiano said that the biggest thing that he’s missed with Meyer not being around is his leadership. “The inspiration he provides not only to the players, but the coaches.”
- Schiano said that he has gotten much closer to Day throughout the last 30 days. He said, “He’s a special guy. He’s got a bright, bright future.”
- “I think it was the third day that he spoke with the team,” Schiano said of Day. “I said, ‘That’s Ryan...’ He spoke from his heart that third day... I’m so impressed working underneath and observing him, and trying to help him. He’s got the ‘it.’”
- In speaking of new DB coach Taver Johnson, Schiano said, “I don’t know if anybody can ever hit Coach Coombs’ level of energy – he’s caffeine 2.0 – but Taver’s right there.”
- Schiano on Meyer, “Before he’s my boss, he’s my friend. When I was allowed to, I did communicate with him. That’s not about football. I was worried about him.”
- Schiano said that Baron Browning, Pete Werner, and Malik Harrison will start at linebacker this Saturday. He said that from there, more people will play, which is unusual for the linebacker corps. That is because they have more talented LBs this season than in the past.
- Browning will be the middle linebacker. He said that they aren’t ready to deal with how his position could change when Borland is completely healthy.
- Of Werner, Schiano said, “He’s made quite the ascension. You saw him grow up on special teams last year... He had a great spring and he’s worked hard to mature his body. He’s a much bigger man now than he was as a freshman... He’s getting better and better.”
- Schiano said that Justin Hilliard and Keandre Jones are still in the mix at LB. He said that Hilliard has worked incredibly hard to recover from injury, and that there might not be a harder worker on the team than Jones; who is also working to get back to 100% healthy.
- The defensive coordinator said that Tuf Borland might play this weekend, which is a testament to the training and medical staffs at Ohio State, and to Borland for how hard he’s worked. Schiano said that as a coach and a father, he is hesitant to put him out there too early, but that he will trust the medical staff when it comes to injury.
- Schiano did not name a starter at safety opposite Jordan Fuller. He said that both Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint will play. He alluded to the fact that they will rotate if/until someone pulls away and claims the position.
- The cornerbacks will stick with the three-man rotation with Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield, and Jeffrey Okudah.
- Schiano added that Nick Bosa, Chase Young, and Jonathon Cooper will lead the rotation for the defensive ends. He then added, “From there, we’ll see, if Jashon Cornell or whoever else gets in the game.”
- In terms of how the team will play on Saturday, “We’ll go in with a blueprint, but we’re not married to anything,” Schiano said. “If they change, we can change. They line up in a formation and we have to react. It starts with that.”
New Redshirt Rule
- Schiano said that the coaching staff is doing a lot of strategic thinking in terms of how to work the new redshirt rule to their advantage. He said that there will be a plan on whether to use players’ four games early in the season or late.
- He said that players will change dramatically from the start of the season to the end of the season, so they will be smart with how they handle each player’s unique circumstance.
The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes will open their season against the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday, Sept. 1 at noon. The game will be broadcast on ABC. Land-Grant Holy Land will have will have you covered with everything you have to know about the season during the week, and throughout the season.