Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said there would be some changes coming to the Buckeye defense.
It wasn’t just the 35 points that Ohio State allowed to Oregon in Saturday’s 35-28 loss, it was the ease at which those points came and OSU’s inability to put up any kind of defense against it.
“Well, I mean, giving up too many yards and too many points. That’s just the bottom line,” Day said. “I think now it’s not just a single game, it’s a little bit of a pattern. So, took a long, hard look the last 48 hours and everything that’s going on, and certainly going to make some adjustments here. Not only of how we’re attacking other offenses, but also just structurally how we’re doing our day-to-day operations.”
The “structural” changes are what should be most alarming. Or, for Buckeye fans, most encouraging. It’s clear that things are no longer working with how this defense is presented on the field and so it can no longer be allowed to continue unaltered.
Asked to expound on what he meant by “structural” changes, Day declined to go into any detail.
“No, I’d rather not,” he said. “We are going to make some adjustments and changes. We have to, but I’d rather not get into all that right now.”
When did he come to the realization that now was the time for a significant change?
“After the game,” he said. “Yeah, the last 48 hours just going through it. You want to act, you don’t want to overreact. You have to make sure that you do things the right way and you allow people to do their job. But when it gets to a certain point, you have to get things fixed. That’s what we’re gonna do.”
Any time major changes occur on one side of the ball or the other, it usually involves some shifting of coaching duties. The popular topic of Tuesday’s questions involved defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs and his role moving forward, specifically whether or not he would still be making the defensive calls during games.
“Again, I don’t want to get into specifics. I want to keep looking at it this week,” Day said. “I don’t think it’s something that we’re going to decide right now either. It’s going to be something that we all get in there and we all are taking a hard look at everything we’re doing from scheme to our structure to all those types of things. And what gives us the best chance as we play against Tulsa to win the game. And we’ll look at all those things. But no hard decisions have been made that way yet.”
Day declined to go into detail regarding the conversations he’s had with Coombs this week, but also said conversations like that aren’t uncomfortable, they’re just honest. “They’re real,” he said. And the entire conversation can be backed up by the game film.
“I’d rather not share the conversations. But yeah, I mean, when you look at the results over the last couple games, and then coming off the last year, it’s not what we expect here,” Day said. “It’s not our expectation. And so that’s all part of looking at how we need to move forward with this thing.”
Many expect somebody else to be calling the defensive plays this week against Tulsa, with secondary coach Matt Barnes being a possibility since he has some playcalling experience from his days at Maryland.
On Tuesday, a reporter asked Day about the possibility of OSU defensive analyst Paul Rhoads getting the nod. Rhoads is a former head coach at Iowa State and has been a defensive coordinator at four different Power 5 programs.
Being an analyst, however, Rhoads isn’t permitted by the NCAA to be actively coaching the players, and as far as Day is concerned, coaches who aren’t actively coaching the Buckeyes right now wouldn’t be ideal options for such an important role.
“Paul is a great resource for our coaches. And he’s really good,” Day said. “The hard thing for him in any of those types of situations, is he doesn’t really know the players that much because he doesn’t really get a chance to coach the players. So that would be unfair to him. But I mean, we’re obviously looking all those types of things right now to figure out what gives us the best chance. And he’s great for our coaches, and he’s a great resource. Good coach.”
Throughout the media session with Day, you didn’t have to sense his frustration with the defense because he didn’t try to hide it. After what he called some “bad assumptions” and “bad changes” defensively in the offseason, Day now at least has more data on how to get the Ohio State defense fixed, and this week is the first step.