COLUMBUS – With Ohio State’s season opener being a Thursday night game at Illinois, the Buckeyes were able to begin fall camp on Thursday, August 6, a day earlier than initially expected.
Head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Thursday to talk about the first practice of fall camp.
Here’s a summary of what was said.
+ “It was great to see our guys out there.” Day said it was great to forget about everything else for an hour and be out there with the guys with footballs. He said the energy was great.
+ They have had a lot of conversations about the possibility of not having a season but they are focused on winning the moment because they don’t know what’s coming tomorrow and they aren’t focused on that. They are focused on becoming better football players, a better football team, and staying healthy. Everything else is a distraction. They have to make sure to stay focused, as hard as it is.
+ Each day comes with a new set of challenges. As a staff they say ‘let’s see what today brings.’
+ He talked to the team about players opting-out. Day said that they are going to have conversations and if they don’t feel comfortable, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a part of the program. Conversations have been very very strong.
+ Hats off to the medical personnel and staff, they are working around the clock and they have done a wonderful job getting together with Gene Smith to put together a safe environment for the team. They have learned and adapted.
+ He’s not aware of anybody who was in that group of Big Ten players that voiced their concerns. But he believes they all should have a voice and if there are concerns, he wants them brought to his attention so he can advocate for them.
+ He is comfortable with starting training camp. As far as starting a game, not yet. The Big Ten did a great job with protocols but there are details that need ironed out before they play that first game. They are not quite ready to play a game yet. Yesterday was a great step forward.
+ He is not concerned about the level of play starting off the season because of how hard his players have worked all summer.
+ They are doing both a switch-squad and a whole team practice and plan on using both models for training camp.
+ Day said they are not going into a hotel before home games. The players will remain at their apartments. They are trying to de-densify living situations. They are still working on that.
+ This year is going to be very different. They have tents around the Woody Hayes to be able to conduct meetings outside, are masking, changing meeting styles, locker rooms, etc.
+ The staff is listening to feedback from parents and is hearing their concerns.
+ Everybody looks very strong out at practice. Day said he won’t address who wasn’t there and who was, but everybody looked great and strong.
+ On Justin Fields’ selection for a captain, Day said he had potential to be a captain last season. He quickly made his impact on his teammates. He cares about what he does, he’s tough, he showed both mental and physical toughness in the stretch last year and earned his teammates’ respect, and he worked incredibly hard in the off-season. “He is very motivated right now and you can see the look in his eyes.”
+ They want to limit the amount of contact they have as a team. They disinfect everything as fast as they can and they will try to limit the amount of contact they have, but it is a contact sport. At the end of the day there is going to be blocking, etc.
+ On the backup quarterback role, Day said it has been hard because they had a very limited spring. There’s nothing they can do to replace experience of 7-on-7 and then game and practice reps. They have been trying to talk things through but they have to get reps and it’s great to see them out there now.
+ The coaching staff and the players got the schedule when everyone else did yesterday. “Illinois also started practice today.”
+ On the right tackle position Day said Paris Johnson Jr. and Nicholas Petit-Frere both have had great off-seasons. He has been very impressed with Paris Johnson and NPF looks like a completely different person.
+ On having four true freshman in the receiver unit, Day said anybody who deserves to play will play. They like to rotate and roll them. But missing the spring definitely hurt. There are a lot of reps they didn’t get, just like the quarterbacks, they don’t have the experience. The next few weeks are critical.
+ They feel great about starting training camp in terms of the way they are handling the testing and protocols. But for a game, there’s a lot that needs to work out and they are working around the clock to figure it out.
+ On adding to the defense, Day said because there has been so much down time, coaches have had a lot of time to add new ideas. But they now have to figure out what they can execute on the field.
+ Players are not wearing masks once the helmets are on. They are not requiring that. But conversation is had on a daily basis on what is best for them. When the masks get wet, it is hard for the players to breathe. They have explored the face shields and have several different models they are looking at and getting feedback on. Some players have concerns about the ventilation of it but everybody is different. They are giving great feedback.
+ With the leadership on this team, they probably could have had 11 or 12 captains. They have great leadership from younger classes too but the upperclassmen handle themselves like men. They have done the hard work on their own, without the daily motivation of the coaches. “It’s one thing to come from the coach but when you have players up in front of the team talking about making sacrifices to keep each other safe, it’s a lot more powerful.”
+ They are taking it one day at a time. That is the mindset they have adopted as a team and as a coaching staff.
+ On the coaches poll voting Ohio State No. 2, Day said it is certainly an honor to be recognized by his peers but at the same time it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the year nobody talks about the pre-season rankings.
+ Master Teague has done a great job rehabbing to get to where he is at right now. He is very impressed by what he has done. Trey Sermon has been a great addition, he has a great work ethic and the guys have embraced him. “When you bring in a transfer, you have to find the right guy. Jonah Jackson was that guy, and Trey Sermon is that guy.”
+ He feels confident about the depth of the running back room.
+ Sevyn Banks and Marcus Williamson have been stepping up. Kerry Coombs is building accountability within that unit. There is a trust there with the older guys, they picked up where they left off.
+ Jaylen Harris did a good job in the winter going into spring practice. He had a lot of momentum. They are hoping he can make an impact, it’s the next step for him.
+ On the Michigan game being in October, Day said they knew the schedule was going to be different. He really doesn’t have an opinion on it. They will just keep working hard over the next few weeks. “Nothing is normal this year and this won’t be either and that’s okay, we’ll adjust and gets it done.”
+ They have depth on the offensive line. “That group and the tight end unit are some of the best I’ve been around and that’s high praise.”
+ “When Shaun Wade speaks, people listen. He will do great in that role, he’s going to be great.”
+ On recruiting, Day said they try to stay in touch as best as they can to try and build relationships. The good thing is that a lot of guys have been to campus, they just haven’t been able to spend much time with the athletes and their families. It goes back to relationship and trust. He feels for the recruits and their families for not getting the full experience. He is proud of what the recruits have done and for they staff for adjusting. “It’s easy to get frustrated but you have to adjust in these times.”
+ On having guys like Justin Hilliard, Jonathon Cooper and C.J. Saunders, Day said they are the “wining recipe.”