There were many fans and media alike that were concerned about the Ohio State Buckeyes as they went into last Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Would the inexperience of the coach, quarterback, or offensive line doom OSU to an early-season trap game failure?
In a word, “Nope.”
Following the decisive, full-team shutout of Luke Fickell’s Bearcats, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with the media to discuss the victory, as well as to preview the Buckeyes’ first road trip and Big Ten game of the season, this Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers.
Check out the video of the press conference here:
Champions of the Game
Offense: Justin Fields, Luke Farrell, Chris Olave, Austin Mack, K.J. Hill, Thayer Munford, Jonah Jackson, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis, Branden Bowen
Player of the Game: J.K. Dobbins
Defensive Champions: Davon Hamilton, Tyreke Smith, Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, Malik Harrison, Brendan White, Damon Arnette, Jeff Okudah, Jordan Fuller, Shaun Wade
Player of the Game: Chase Young
Special Teams Player of the Game: Drue Chrisman
Scout Team Players of Week: Dawand Jones, Nathan Brock, Jack Jamieson, Enokk Vimahi, Max Wray, Chris Kuhn, Ryan Jacoby, Brandon Pahl, Zach Stevenson, Ryan Smith, Sam Wiglusz, Lloyd McFarquhar, Craig Young
- Day said that Binjimen Victor is very important for the team. As he makes plays downfield, it opens up the offense for the rest of the playmakers.
- The coach said that J.K. Dobbins had a great second game. He also mentioned a pair of plays in which the running back stuck his nose in and made some key blocks.
- He said that while the coaching staff scripts a number of early offensive plays, they try not to get too stuck on it, because things can change very quickly. He said that because Cincinnati was blitzing more than anticipated, they changed their plans quickly.
- “We know going on the road, first conference game, it’s going to be a tough game.”
- Day said that having been watching film on IU, he’s been impressed with the progress of their defense.
- Day said that while the Hoosiers have a new defensive coordinator, it is the same defense, so as they continue to have more experience in the system, the more detailed and complex it becomes.
- Day mentioned that the biggest difference between playing at home and on the road is that being away from home forces you to changes your routine.
- The coach said that they recruited IU quarterback Michael Penix Jr., and he isn’t surprised that he’s playing early. “I think he’s going to have a really good career”
- Day said that it is always amazing when the team goes on the road to see Buckeye Nation there in support. He said that it’s special, and they know they’re going to get support wherever they go.
- Day said that win or lose, issues will still show up on the film, and that if players focus on the process, rather than the results, they will have success. But, some young players haven’t figured that out yet.
- When asked, about his “non-negotiables” when it came to defense, Day said that his must-haves were stopping the run, playing with energy and toughness, and tackling. He also said that because of how well Larry Johnson has developed defensive lineman, he felt like they had to play with four down-linemen.
- The coach said that anytime a team or group of players has been “scarred,” he loves that, because they have something to prove. He feels like his defense is like that. They’ve been through a lot over the last year, and they are playing well to make up for it.
- When asked how a QB can know when it’s time to keep scrambling, and when it’s time to get rid of it, Day said it’s all about experience and feel. He said that as a coach, you have to work with the players, then trust them, and let it go. Speaking of his QB, he said, “The play is never over with Justin.”
- “We talk about we want to be the best in the country. The message to the team is the issues are still in the film, whether you win or lose,” Day said.
- Day said that Master Teague didn’t practice much during camp, but he has run hard during the last few weeks, and as he gets more accustomed to taking hits, he’ll be able to pick up more carries.
- “If he can continue to practice the way he has the last two weeks,” Day said of Teague, “we’ll feel more comfortable with him.”
- Talking about Justin Fields, Day said, “He should have confidence. He’s played well the first two games.”
- However, Day added, “[Fields] got away with a couple throws when the competition increases he won’t, but overall solid. He should have confidence, he’s played well the first two games”
- The head coach praised passing game coordinator Mike Yurcich for getting Fields prepared for the season. “To see the way he’s worked with Justin so far, it’s remarkable.”
- Day said that while they haven’t used as many of the crossing and mesh routes as they did last year, those plays are in the playbook, and when they feel comfortable with adding those into the game plan, Fields will have those plays available.
- He added that the goal is to get Fields to a point where he knows what’s going to happen before the plays.
- The coach also praised Jeff Okudah, saying that he’s “a pro.” Okudah knows that he’s not a finished product, but he works hard every day to get better.
- Day said that wide receiver Jaylen Harris has performed well on special teams, and therefore will get more playing time. “Anytime you do a good job on special teams, you deserve to play.”
- The coach said that Austin Mack is going to be necessary for OSU’s success this year. And he also praises the things that Mack does off the field as well, saying that he’s a “thoughtful young man.”
- Day said that he “couldn’t be prouder” of Joe Burrow. Said that he’s playing at a high level, and that he’s come a long way. He said that the LSU QB looks like an NFL player.
- When talking about Shaun Wade, Day said, “Extremely talented. Can do a lot of things. Can play inside, can play outside, can blitz.”
- Day talked about their “Plan to Win,” and how important field position is. He mentioned that he believes that Drue Chrisman is the best punter in the game, so if the offense can at least get the ball to midfield, Chrisman can pin them deep.
The No. 6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will go on the road for the first time this season on Saturday, as they head to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. The Big Ten opener for both teams will kick off at 12 noon ET, and will be broadcast on FOX.