Ryan Day, Jim Knowles, and Kevin Wilson addressed the media today to discuss the team’s performance against Iowa and their upcoming bout with Penn State.
Firstly, Day seemed relieved that the Iowa game is behind them. He addressed their struggles and noted that balance is very important for what they do on offense and their inability to run the ball presented some issues for them. But, Day also seemed confident that those issues can be cleaned up and it was good to go against a good defense, as that can show you what you need to improve on. He also said that Iowa did some things on defense that took them by surprise. Specifically, he said that Iowa gave way more single-high looks, which forced them to adjust on the fly.
Day was then further asked about his offense and he highlighted several different players in his answers. He seems to be encouraged by what he has seen from CJ Stroud, and he feels that he has done some great things. He is pleased that he uses his feet to buy time and make plays while also noting that can be very difficult to simulate in practice. He is satisfied with the rotation of Henderson and Williams and he expects that to continue moving forward. He spoke glowingly about the receivers and praised the maturity in that room. He loves the culture in the room and mentioned that started with the likes of Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin and it has improved each and every season. He is very pleased with what he has seen out of Julian Fleming since his return and he feels that we are seeing “the best version” of him.
On the defense, Day loves the trajectory of the safety room, particularly Lathan Ransom. Day suggested that the style of defense is tailor-made for Ransom and his skill set. He is also quite pleased with Tanner McAllister and his performance. He mentioned how difficult it is to transfer in without being promised anything and embrace a new culture. McAllister has passed the test with flying colors and he will continue to be an impact player. He also mentioned Tommy Eichenberg and how important he has been to the defense. He even said that Eichenberg managed to crack a smile after his pick-six. He elaborated further on the linebacker room and mentioned that Chip Trayanum has moved to running back so it will be important for Palaie Gaoteote and Teradja Mitchell to step up down the stretch.
On the Penn State matchup, Day started by mentioning his respect for Penn State. He said they were always a “big deal” when he was growing up. He said that game on the road is always a challenge and he and the team are expecting one on Saturday. He praised Sean Clifford for his toughness and his accuracy and he seems to believe that this quarterback and wide receiver group will be the best they have seen, as a collective, to this point. He also had high praise for Penn State corner, Joey Porter, who will need to be game-planned for.
On the injury front, Day said that Cam Brown was not of any particular long-term concern and they expect to have him back. Jordan Hancock got some run against Iowa and Day is looking forward to seeing him produce more. Unfortunately, TC Caffey will be out for the season as reported by Ryan Day. On Josh Proctor, Day said it was an “illness” and they expect to have him back. He continued to urge that Jaxon Smith-Njigba was held out for his pitch count and that he wanted to go back into the game. Day suggested that the expectation is to have JSN against Penn State, but we will find out as the week unfolds.
Even after a dominant performance, Knowles is still pushing the guys to get better. He explained that there were several things he saw in the Iowa game that the defense must improve on. Still, Knowles seemed encouraged by the things he saw, particularly Zach Harrison, who seems to be ascending before our eyes. He also spoke about Taron Vincent and praised him for his work and performance this season. He said that it is incredibly difficult to learn a new scheme but Vincent has completely bought in and has thrived.
On the safeties, Knowles spoke very positively about Ransom and Tanner McAllister. Knowles elaborated further on Ransom and said he has “blown” him away in practice since he has been healthy. He seems very pleased with the direction of this unit and it really does seem like an embarrassment of riches. McAllister was a very important piece of Knowles’s defense at Oklahoma State, and Knowles is very happy to have him on this Buckeye team as he is a great resource for both Knowles and his teammates.
As of right now, Knowles is focused on continuing to elevate the standard. He likes the trajectory they are on but he also emphasized how important it is to keep that upward trend. He wants his guys to play free and loose because that is when big plays are made. He spoke about their recent uptick in turnovers and he noted those have a lot to do with creating momentum on defense and letting those plays come to them.
On Penn State, Knowles said Clifford and their wide receivers are very talented and they will need to be ready. He emphasized that they will need to do a great job defending 50/50 balls, which have been a struggle at times. The corners will have a tough task ahead of them and Knowles has a lot of confidence in guys like Denzel Burke to rise to the occasion.
First, in the Iowa game, Wilson felt the offensive line was beaten more often than they should have been. He felt they allowed Iowa to get off of too many blocks and outplay them at times in the run game. He felt it was hard to get the offense in rhythm due to all of the short fields and troubles in the run game. Still, he is confident in his group’s ability to lick their wounds and come back this week against Penn State.
On Penn State, Wilson, like the others, expects a challenge. He was complimentary of Joey Porter and their defense. A lot of emphases will be placed on the receivers in this game, and Wilson seems to love his guys. He spoke very highly of Marvin Harrison Jr and his physical and mental maturity as a young player. So, his primary goal is to get them in good spots to make plays this week.
He spoke about Chip Trayanum’s move to running back and he noted that he is a “bigger body” but he has played the position enough to be a talented player for them there.