Well, it’s finally time. After nearly eight months of waiting, it is once again game week for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Though he’s been through this once before on an interim basis for the first three weeks of the 2018 season, it is now officially Ryan Day’s turn to be the head coach for Ohio State.
Breaking from Urban Meyer’s schedule, Day will address the media on Tuesdays this season, and he kicked off the festivities today.
Watch the press conference here:
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- Day said that they need to make sure that they tackle well on defense this week. He also said that he is anxious to see how they block and take care of the ball.
- He notes that this team is not a finished product, and he’s ready to get to Saturday in order to figure out what they need to work on.
- On new QB Justin Fields, he said via practices, you get an idea of what players will do in a game, but it is a different scenario when you are going against live opponents, especially since the first team hasn’t been tackling much in camp.
- On the 2018 issues with scoring in the red zone, Day said that scoring when close to the goal line is very important, and Justin Fields will be important as a running QB helps counter the defenses natural odds advantage.
- He said, “Fields has the ability to run, more like J.T., so having a QB with that ability helps with those odds.”
- The coach said that they have to go play, and can’t “walk on egg shells” worrying about Fields getting hurt. He went on that they don’t intend to to put players in harm’s way when it isn’t necessary, since it is a long season, but they expect Fields to be in the game as long as it takes to win.
- Day said that they will go into every game assuming Fields will be in during the fourth quarter.
- On Fields, Day said, “The good thing about Justin is he throws it just as good as he runs it, and vice versa.”
- The coach is excited to see how the addition of the “Bullet” position does on Saturday and throughout the season. He said those players are extremely talented. “What we ask them to do really fits what they can do.”
- Day noted that they will figure out starters at various positions the rest of this week, but there will be a bit of rotation, especially on the offensive line. He said, “I think you’re going to see 7-8 guys play in the game on Saturday.”
- At right tackle, Day notes that Branden Bowen will start, and, as expected, Thayer Munford will start at left tackle.
- He added that the unit practices together every day, so as players rotate, everyone should be able to communicate and work together, no matter the arrangement of players.
- Day mentions that Joshua Alabi, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Harry Miller are all likely to get playing time.
- Of Bowen’s return from his 2017 broken leg, he said, “His attitude is as good as I’ve been around.” He said that you never have to worry about Bowen off the field. He takes care of business and is 100% focused on getting healthy and playing to the best of his ability.
- He noted that if Jonathon Cooper can’t go at some point this season, there are a number of players that could step up to fill in at end. Obviously Chase Young is on the opposite side, but Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Zach Harrison, Tyreke Smith, and Tyler Friday will play. He also said that Jashon Cornell could swing to the outside and play end.
- Day said that they want to “play with depth” at every position. So, they will use in-game playing time as a way to build depth throughout the season.
- On J.K. Dobbins, the coach said, “He’ll have to have some 20 carry games, he’ll have to be the workhorse, and I think he’s ready for that.”
- On the quarterback depth, Day notes that Gunnar Hoak doesn’t have a full grasp of the offense, because he is so new to the program. He notes that all QBs have different skill sets, but because of the style of offense, whomever is behind center the game plan can be tailored to their specific abilities.
- While Day has said that he won’t be discussing injuries, it was announced prior to the presser that OSU will release information on players that will be out or game-time decisions on Friday afternoon. They will also release the weekly depth chart then.
- On the policy, Day said, “We just had discussions with the administration, with the medical staff and sat down and made the decision, that was the best for us moving forward.”
- Day notes that there’s not much that will change from the game day schedule for the team. They will keep many of the traditions, quick cals, walk from the Skull Session, etc., that were important during the Meyer era.
- Day noted that co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will coach from the sideline, but his co Jeff Hafley, as well as both offensive coordinators — Kevin Wilson and Mike Yurcich — will be in the booth.
- The new head coach said that he is fired up to start the season. He noted that he talked with Meyer about how he took time to appreciate that he is coaching at OSU. So, Day decided that he would be doing that for himself when he runs out into the stadium.
- Athletic director Gene Smith asked why Day shaved his beard. The new head coach noted that it was only intended to be a camp beard to last through the first week, but the late nights and early mornings led to him keeping it longer.
- Day mentioned that he loves the competition of calling plays, and that he likes to be in control. He admits that the entire staff helps with the plan, and they do disagree at times, but once they leave the room, they are all on the same page.
- He said, “At the end of the day, I’ll be the one making the call. I like to be in control... Kevin’s always been involved, Mike will be involved, but ultimately, I’ll call it.”
- Day said that he won’t be involved with the defensive play-calling very much. “That’s why we hired the guys we did... I trust those guys.”
- Day said that when he drives to and from work, he turns off his radio and phone and dedicates that time to think about big picture program things.
- Day notes that Ohio State was the only place he would have left the NFL for, because it’s “the greatest organization in America.”
The Buckeyes will open the season against Florida Atlantic on Aug. 31 at noon ET in Ohio Stadium. The game will be broadcast on FOX, and Land-Grant Holy Land will have you covered from now, all the way through the final whistle.