COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and safeties coach Perry Eliano met with the media on Tuesday to discuss takeaways from the 21-10 win over Notre Dame, provide injury updates, and preview the Buckeyes’ matchup against Arkansas State on Saturday.
Here are the highlights of what was said.
+ On the defense, Day said “that was the start we were looking for, for sure.” They played fast and decisive. Now they have to bring it every week. They only played 49 plays on defense and while they want to establish roles, he thinks there will be more rotation in the backfield in the future.
+ Jaxon Smith-Njigba is an impact player and he is explosive. It impacts the entire game schematically when he is not out there. Day said he will leave the decision up to the doctors and will make sure he is 100 percent before putting him back in the game, but he hopes to get him back for this week. They are continuing to evaluate it this week.
+ On keeping the same intensity for Arkansas State, Day said competitive stamina showed up in the game against Notre Dame, especially in the fourth quarter. “But that doesn’t mean anything this week.” They will use that message this week, good, bad, or indifferent they have to let last week go.
+ On C.J. Stroud focusing on winning and not on statistics, Day said every quarterback is different but Stroud is unique, he’s very deep. He’s an excellent player but the impact he is making on the program is felt on and off the field.
+ The team talks a lot about the adversity that comes their way and how they handle it. They focus on the response to get the best outcome, but it’s not always easy, especially when it comes to players’ injuries. They have to have plans in place for when things like that occur.
+ On the receiver play against Notre Dame, Day said there were some good plays and some they just missed on, as well as a few protection issues early on. They could have been cleaner early but got into a rhythm late. “A lot of good things out there but a lot to build on.”
+ On a quarterback and new receivers getting on the same page as far as landing marks, Day said Stroud and all of the receivers are working hard at building chemistry, and they’re working on showing that on the field. They have done it in practice well.
+ On Luke Wypler wearing a boot, Day said there’s always bumps and bruises after a hard game, but it’s nothing long term.
+ They have to be able to run the ball, stop the run, control the clock and play good defense when teams want to limit them offensively. They did that on Saturday, and it was a physical game.
+ On where he wants to see improvement this week, Day said the issues are always there and they have to get those addressed. The issues are usually coaching, execution, scheme, or personnel. The key is to identify them and figure out how to improve.
+ The first play being a big play could have turned into a “oh, here we go again.” But they didn’t let that happen. Jim Knowles’ mentality is “give me a yard and we’ll defend it.”
+ Day plans on splitting carries between TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams moving froward. They both ran hard and took care of the football. He felt it but really saw it on film.
+ Mike Hall proved he belongs. Now he has to bring it every week and that’s the expectation every week. “It’s one thing to flash in a game, it’s another to bring it consistently every week.”
+ “Tanner McCalister is kind of a coach on the field.” He fits the culture well.
+ On giving C.J. Stroud control at the line of scrimmage, Day said he tries to take things off his plate. “Just because he can, doesn’t mean he should.” But he also takes Stroud’s feedback.
+ On Julian Fleming, Day said it tore his heart out to not be in the Notre Dame game. He was close.
+ Arkansas State has added some new pieces and they have talent. They also played teams tough last year. “They were in those games even though their record wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be.”
+ They approached Notre Dame like it was a conference game. But this week it’s more about addressing the things they didn’t do well and build. They also expect to play more plays and can evaluate everyone more.
+ Clearing the hurdle last week was huge. But every week is. “If you don’t believe it, try losing one.” His postgame reaction was relief.
+ On what stood out to Day on Saturday, he said the locker room at halftime. It was positive and there was a lot of communication and problem-solving, and he has been in quiet locker rooms before. He also pointed to the sideline excitement and the look of the players in the fourth quarter.
+ On Stroud being more fluid moving out of plays, Day said they worked on his athleticism and he attacked the weight room but they have been working on throwing in the run and scramble drills. He extended plays and they did work on that.
+ Xaiver Johnson was up for the moment on Saturday.
+ On Lathan Ransom, Eliano said his performance didn’t surprise him. “He loves what he does and he prepares well.” Ransom is instinctive and when he goes, he goes.
+ On Lathan Ransom playing more than Josh Proctor after the first play, Eliano said it wasn’t planned like that but Ransom got in a rhythm. Both of them will play and both of them will have large roles on the team. He loves Proctor and trusts him, and Proctor was great about it on the sidelines. He was selfless and is still preparing like a Pro. He met with him individually on Sunday and he was fine. “He’s ready to go and put his best foot forward.”
+ On taking a moment to be in awe of the setting on Saturday, Eliano said being at Ohio State means something. This opportunity for him and his family to share in the moment, to win the game, it was “priceless.” He will always remember it, but the main reason is because they got win No. 1.
+ On the mechanics of the defensive, Eliano said everyone on the defense is a Pro. They all understand their roles and the flow of the game was great. They never flinched when hit with adversity on the first play of the game, coaches included.
+ Ronnie Hickman could play better because there is always room for improvement. But he’s stepped up his mentality, preparation, studying the game, and understanding what to look for. That shows up because he’s playing very fast. He goes to work everyday and keeps his head down. The whole safety room wants to be coached and they want great feedback. “That’s special.”
+ On seeing the talent and depth of the safety room on Saturday, Eliano said he was more proud of how physical and tough they were. “They felt us.” They knew they were talented, but that could only take them so far.
+ On holding players to two yards per carry with three safeties not three linebackers, Eliano said they knew the challenge but they were willing to step up to the challenge. Knowles said from day one that it was a safety-focused defense.
+ He coaches based on the ebbs and flows of the game. He doesn’t go into any game with a set ‘this is what I want to do.’
+ On Arkansas State’s offense, Eliano said they’re a good football team with a tempo offense, and they go as the quarterback goes. They have several transfers.