Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Tuesday to provide some updates on his football team and also look ahead to Saturday’s top-10 matchup against Michigan State. Also speaking with the media were receiver Garrett Wilson and defensive end Zach Harrison. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
+ Will Kyle McCord and Evan Pryor redshirt? They’ll see. They would like to, but there’s still a lot of season to play. You have conversations with the players to try and figure that stuff out. The good news is they can play and still redshirt.
+ Master Teague is doing okay. It’s day-to-day right now.
+ On the Senior Day walk-list, they talked to the players who had the opportunity to walk and left it up to them to walk during senior day ceremonies, but that doesn’t mean those players have made decisions on not coming back or staying.
+ MSU RB Kenneth Walker has great patience and can make guys miss. The offensive line has done a great job. And it will take more than one guy to bring him down.
+ Was the lack of pressure against Purdue a concern? The game turned into a passing game quickly because it was so lopsided. The ball was coming out quickly. They probably could have tightened up the coverage and also gotten to the quarterback more, especially against a pass-happy team.
+ Is it harder to keep the same level of intensity when you’re up by a lot early? It shouldn’t affect anything but whether it did or not, he doesn’t know.
+ They would like to continue getting Miyan Williams involved. He has really good vision and he’s strong. He was turning those runs into more than what was there. TreVeyon Henderson is more of a home-run hitting. They complement each other very well.
+ When did CJ Stroud start to prepare like you wanted him to and also helped others along as well? It’s been a gradual thing, but when he had the week off for his shoulder he came back with more accountability.
+ Bryson Shaw has done a good job of getting guys lined up. He’s a tremendous teammate. Everybody has things they want to get back and he’s no different. You just have to make sure the same mistakes aren’t being made.
+ This has been quite a year for the Big Ten. There’s been some unbelievable games and the matchups have been week-in and week-out.
+ At this point in the season you just need to win games however you can. They’re not trying to keep guys fresh or anything like that. The best guys have to play.
+ How hard was it not being on the sideline last year against Michigan State? It was a difficult week. The staff stood up and so did the players. You learned a lot about the character and the culture of that team. He appreciates having fans back in the stands. He takes time during the game to appreciate that. Even going on the road has been good with the hostile environments.
+ Michigan State is a really good team that plays with good energy. He has overturned the roster and it’s good. They have a good scheme. It’s a challenge across the board.
+ Why are they playing six offensive linemen so much? Some of it’s about Matt Jones but it’s also about other guys having some injuries and health issues here and there. They were all clean last week and they were “rocking people off the ball.” The energy was good and so was the communication. They stepped up to the challenge against Karlaftis.
+ They have been giving CJ Stroud more and more leeway to change plays. He changed into the first touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson. That’s some of the stuff that people don’t see. He told the team that in order to be good, you have to upgrade yourself every week. He used the analogy of the iPhone. The plays that worked four weeks ago may not work this week because the opponent is always preparing for what they’ve seen. They tell Stroud to be decisive because as long as everybody is on the same page, “we’re good.”
+ Parker Fleming has stepped in and “done a very good job” of motivating the guys and putting a good scheme together. New kicker, new punter, and he has created a team with pride. The special teams walk-throughs have an edge to them and it’s unique. But it all has to continue because it’s a week-to-week situation right now. “You don’t come here to play special teams…” so you have to motivate them to embrace these roles. They show how special teams applies to offense and defense as well.
+ Michigan State is a complementary team. The defense is good on third downs and red zones, and then they control the game on offense with the run game and play-action pass down the field. “That’s kind of their deal.” They have good special teams as well.
+ Garrett Wilson had a great offseason with Mickey Marotti in the weight room and with Brian Hartline in the meeting rooms. He’s been a pro this year. He takes care of his body. He’s strong and powerful and his football IQ has increased this year as well. He has taken strides in playing within the offense.
+ “It’s tremendous” to have walk-ons contributing on special teams in big ways. It was great to see Chris Booker to make two big plays in special teams last week.
+ Dropping eight on defense allows OSU to change the windows for the opponent but you still have to execute it and they didn’t do that well enough last week. They could do that again down the road, but you still have to execute it.
+ Assessing the OSU defense is a week-to-week thing because of the different styles of offense they face each week. At the end of the day it still comes down to pad level and executing and running to the ball.
+ How do you evaluate a QB recruit’s ability to change plays? “It’s very difficult.” You first look for some extraordinary trait and then you project that into your offense. You meet with them and you try to identify the best you can how well they can see the field or run an offense or eventually understand what you want the offense to do.
+ Linebackers have keys and then they use their keys to identify what to do. When they look at linebacker traits, they look at how quickly they can react to their keys. It’s one thing to read it but the faster they can diagnose and react, the better.
+ There are teams who just decide that they are going to take Chris Olave away by putting a safety over top of him, but he has a great attitude and is a team leader. He has a great future in football. He’s a first rounder. He is playing at a high level.
+ This senior class has been through a lot. They’ve been through COVID. They had a great run last year and it’s been a good year this year as well. They have won a lot of games but they are also leaving a path and legacy for the younger players. This group takes pride in Ohio State and being Buckeyes which is growing rarer in this error where so much of college football is about “me.” He has told his players not to wait until your last game to appreciate this.
+ It was an impressive performance last week in not great weather for CJ Stroud last week. You have to handle it better than your opponent. Typically the tougher team wins, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
+ Day asked Stroud before last week’s game if a Cali kid can throw the ball in 40-degree weather with wind. He said it wouldn’t be a problem.
+ “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing…” It’s about preparation. “It’s about us.” If you don’t show up you’re gonna get beat. You have to bring it every week and that’s what they’re going to do. Games like this one are why you come to Ohio State.
+ You can really screw players up by giving them too much information or not enough. So you have to sift through things and give them exactly what they need. He takes that very seriously.
+ Both OSU and MSU are different teams than they were early in the season. That’s a different challenge than playing MSU early in the season when there may not be much of a body of work.
+ The offense has confidence and they are proud of their numbers, but they have an expectation for this offense and they work toward making that stuff happen. It takes all week.
+ He’s not going to complain about holding calls. They still have to make plays. It’s frustrating but there are things to get around it. There are things he is doing to also allow himself to get held which he doesn’t need to do.
+ Purdue got rid of the ball quickly but they still have to find ways to get home.
+ Asked if this is his last season he said they’ve got to beat Michigan State.
+ The Big Ten is the best conference in football and the three teams in the top 10 isn’t an accident.
+ Kenneth Walker is a legit running back. Have to make sure the run fits and fundamentals are right.
+ How will they do better against Walker than they did against the Oregon and Minnesota backs? This is a different defense than that one.
+ If you give a QB time he’s going to pick any defense apart.
+ Why is the defense better and different? Guys are more confident and experienced now.
+ The MSU OL does a good job of pass protection. They sit on blocks. They have to get Payton Thorne off of his spot and be disruptive. If they can make MSU one-dimensional by stopping the run they can then just get after the passer.
+ He has gotten more consistent this year. In the past he would make plays and then go a couple of games without making an impact. Now he feels he’s making an impact every week.
+ Last year’s MSU game was cold, but he was happy to see Larry Johnson out there as the head coach. It’s better this year to have fans back this year because their energy helps a lot.
+ Kenneth Walker is explosive and has good vision. He finds the holes and hits them hard. You have to be gap sound against him. Don’t be greedy. Let the play come to you.
+ The seniors on this team have helped him a lot over the years. He’s going to miss the seniors.
+ “I love Coach J. He’s helped me in ways that I can’t even begin to discuss.” He taught him how to play football but also how to be a professional off the field as well.
+ The ball comes out differently from CJ Stroud than Justin Fields so they had to adjust to that in the receiver room in the offseason. You love to play with dudes who will stay in the pocket and be willing to take a hit. Scrambling can add some yards on some plays but it’s good to have a guy who will hang in the pocket and let the receivers work.
+ He really started learning the position his freshman year. Before that it was mostly just relying on his ability.
+ How much trust is there in CJ Stroud to get them into the right plays? “The ultimate amount of trust.” They have trained so hard in the offseason and in practice on making adjustments that when it happens in a game it’s no big deal.
+ He has thought about this possibly being his last game at Ohio Stadium. If you play well at OSU you can have tough decisions to make that are actually blessings. He is waiting until after the season to make his decision.
+ Are the three WRs competitive? Not necessarily. Not comparatively, but he did notice that JSN went over 1,000 yards last week. It would be special to have three 1,000 yards and not so much for the three of them but how it would look to the outside world and the impact it could have on recruiting.
+ The Big Ten being strong is the Big Ten he grew up watching. “It’s everything you could ask for.” You want to play teams ranked this high so you can prove yourself. They talked about this stretch all season long.
+ CJ Stroud has grown a lot this season. The way he addresses the team, the way he stays composed during games. He’s put the offense in a situation to be at their best in these last few games.
+ Being at Ohio State has lived up to his dreams and then some. “Ohio State’s put me in a great position.”
+ He focused a lot on the offseason on doing more to be better. You have to have the conversation with yourself about whether or not you can do more or if you’re not doing enough. He has seen it pay off this season and he hopes he can continue that for the rest of his life.
+ The perimeter passing game is huge. If you can throw a 5-yard hitch or a bubble for 6 or 7 yards on first down, that’s huge for the offense. The plan to win is to get at least two first downs on every drive in order to gain field position for special teams and defensive purposes. The wide throws are just long hand-offs.
+ It doesn’t surprise him that CJ Stroud is a Heisman favorite. He figured it would be Spencer Rattler or Stroud.
+ Which of his four touchdowns was his favorite? The second one because he loves showing what he can do on 50/50 balls and he hasn’t had many this year. It felt good making the catch and it looked good on replay.
+ On the 50/50 balls, he’s not thinking about anything, he’s just going for the ball. His body moves in ways that he doesn’t always understand. “I can’t give myself so much credit for that.”
+ CJ Stroud has some high-level conversations with his receivers. He will text Wilson on Mondays with stuff from film and what they’re going to do to an opposing defense. They can analyze instantly what they do on the field and what they like or don’t like and then go from there. Stroud is a very intellectual quarterback and he understands what defenses are trying to do and he remembers.
+ It’s hard to replicate 50/50 balls in practice because you want everybody upright and on their feet. But he just always has a football in his hands. He’s used to it. He’s worked at it in other ways over the years.
+ What about Wilson being a Heisman candidate? No, it has to be the QB. “That’s the man CJ, for sure.”
+ He was in gymnastics as a kid and he was mad at his mom for making him do it but he’s glad he did it now. He’s probably the most flexible guy on the team. He feels like it still pays off for him today.