Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Thursday for the final time before the Buckeyes hit the field for Saturday’s spring game. Day answered questions and previewed this weekend’s action. The highlights of everything he had to say can be found below.
+ They are excited about the football clinic today. Bob Stoops is talking tonight as well. Eddie George and Zac Taylor will be speaking tomorrow. They’ll honor Dick Lebeau and some area high school coaches.
+ The spring game will be offense vs. defense. They’ll start off in “thud” but then quickly go into tackling.
+ They will have a tribute to Dwayne Haskins at the end of the first half. They have other plans as well for Saturday.
+ Some very big recruits coming in on Saturday.
+ The Jim Knowles defense on Saturday will be about fundamentals. Don’t expect the full Jim Knowles defense with bells and whistles. “It’ll be very, very basic.”
+ Regarding Jim Knowles installing as much defense as he can this spring, Knowles would tell you he’s been impressed by how professional the players have been in handling high levels of information. This allows them to put a lot of stuff on film and learn from cut-ups. “We’ve all been impressed by how much they’ve been able to handle, the volume, while still playing with really good fundamentals.”
+ Caden Curry plays a lot bigger than he is. High motor. Intelligent.
+ Kye Stokes has an excellent attitude. It’s contagious. Athletically, he has a very high ceiling. He can change direction, has ball skills.
+ They did some tackling this spring. “I think it’s the right thing to do to tackle in this game.” Early on they won’t be tackling, but after a couple of series they’ll start tackling.
+ “It’s just good to get out there and play and see what we’ve got.” They’ve lost some important pieces on offense, so guys need to step up, and to this point they have.
+ CJ Stroud won’t play the whole game with the ones. Kyle McCord will be with the twos and Devin Brown with the threes, but both guys will likely move up once Stroud comes out.
+ The depth on the offensive line is a concern. The depth at safety is a little bit of a concern. He’s pleased with the starting five on the offensive line. Pleased with the defensive line. The play at cornerback has been good. Tommy Eichenberg has been playing really fast and decisive. They went through the entire roster yesterday as a staff. They’re in a much different place than they were last year with their experience. Add in the new defense and it’s been a very good spring.
+ Lathan Ransom and Josh Fryar should be back this summer and ready to roll. Marcus Crowley’s situation is a “little bit more of a long-term deal.”
+ Why offense vs. defense? “We are a little light in the offensive line.” This is a better way to control who is in the game and what they do. It’s just easier logistically.
+ Josh Proctor will probably play early on but won’t be tackling. Physically, he’s getting there. Learning the defense is happening as well, but he’s playing a little catch up because he wasn’t there early in spring. But he’ll work hard on catching back up.
+ Why are the thin on the offensive line? A couple of reasons. Recruiting, development, injuries, and having three more guys coming in this summer. The development of the younger classes is going to be critical. “I feel really good about six or seven of them.”
+ Quarterbacks will be off limits when it comes to tackling.
+ The first game of the year is against Notre Dame, so they need to be ready to roll. “We gotta tackle, we gotta play physical, we gotta be tough.” Jim Knowles is “definitely on board” with tackling.
+ The must-watch matchups through spring? The defensive ends against the tackles “have been good.” Wins on both sides. The receivers and the corners have been making each other better. “Those are fistfights every day. I think if you can get open against those guys, you’re going to get open against a lot of guys in the conference.” There have been battles on the interior of the line of scrimmage as well.
+ The cornerbacks are doing a great job. They get their hands on passes. It’s been a back-and-forth battle with the receivers.
+ The depth at safety, they’re over the number that they normally want. But they don’t have the depth in terms of guys who can play right now. Injuries have impacted that. You want to find the starter and the backup and then go from there. He’s talking about guys who are game ready, that’s what he means by “depth.”
+ When you decide whether or not to tackle, it comes down to who needs to tackle, who needs to be tackled, and the depth that you have. Being able to tackle changes the way the guys play and that’s good.
+ Kyle McCord and Devin Brown just need to manage the game, make the right reads. They don’t need to do much more than just make the routine plays routinely.
+ Ronnie Hickman is an excellent tackler. Has a good feel for the game. Has bought into what’s going on. He loves the defense. He’s got a chance to have a big year.
+ The depth at quarterback is pretty healthy “in today’s day and age.” They’ve been in dicier situations. The guys have the right mentality. The focus of Kyle McCord and Devin Brown isn’t about how quickly can they get on the field but rather what they can do to develop when it is their time.
+ There is good depth on the defensive line. They play faster with this defense. “They’re hard to block right now.” There’s a bunch of guys who have caught his eye on the defensive line.
+ It’s worth a conversation to discuss a spring game being against an FCS opponent or something like that. “I haven’t quite thought through all of the details” but it’s worth talking about.
+ The guys on defense are more decisive. They are more confident. “They’re just playing faster. They know what’s going on.” When you know what you’re doing and can anticipate instead of reacting, that’s the difference in really good play.
+ Walk-on WR Sam Wiglusz is a tough receiver. He’s a veteran now. Similar to CJ Saunders. Good in short areas. Reliable, quick. Really good attitude. Fortunate to have him as a Buckeye.
+ Noah Ruggles is not with the team right now but will be back in the summer.
+ Jayden Ballard has had a good spring. His ceiling is really high. He’s 6-3 195 right now, “and that’s a big receiver.” He’s just got to learn to play that big. He’s a legitimate deep threat. He’s only been doing this for a few years. Hasn’t played a ton. The skill set is there. They just want to see him take the next step, which they’ve seen some of this spring.
+ They’ll get through the weekend and then look at what the plan is regarding attending any kind of memorial services for Dwayne Haskins.