Ryan Day may be the Ohio State head coach, but he comes at his position from an offensive coach’s viewpoint.
The Buckeye offense will reflect his personal beliefs of what a cutting edge offense looks like in college football.
As the new head coach, he also finally has the ability to implement the kind of defense that he believes is best for the program.
He went out and hired four new defensive coaches, with two of them coming from the same place. Those two coaches — Greg Mattison and Al Washington — will be responsible for helping to implement parts of a defensive system they are very familiar with.
That scheme is still being worked out, but it is clear there will be the capability of having a hybrid linebacker involved. They will stay a four-down team on the defensive line because of the depth there, but Day definitely saw some defensive changes he wanted to make when he took over.
“Well, I look at our speed, I look our guys on defense, I look at our linebackers, and I just see a bunch of guys that can really run to the ball,” he said on Wednesday. “I think they’re really athletic, they’re really strong, they’re really powerful. And I think when you force a team to work the ball down the field, you force guys to sometimes check the ball down and take the underneath stuff. And we have really good linebackers and guys that can rally to the ball and really make it hard for teams to score. I think that’s important.”
As an offensive coach, Day knows what bothers him from defenses, and so that’s what he wants from his own defense. He wants every yard to be earned and the big plays to be limited.
That doesn’t mean they are going to just sit back and wait for the offense to come to them, however.
“But then also having the ability to challenge,” he said. “We have some really good cover guys and always have here. So mixing those two things up I think are important, but then also making it simple so that guys can play fast and the front four can go get the quarterback. So I think when you mix all that up, that’s kind of what we want. That’s the mentality we want and that’s the philosophy.”
What Will the Ohio State Defense Look Like?
If Ohio State’s new defense was paint-by-numbers, many of the numbers would be too blurry to read at this point.
Day knows what he wants from his defense, and his coaches have their marching orders.
But there is still plenty of question as to what the defense is actually going to look like, and just how often it will actually look like that.
“Right now we don’t know,” he said. “We have the ability to have a hybrid guy. He could be a linebacker, he could be a secondary guy. Could be a safety kind of type. But based on how we think that best fits our guys, that’s yet to be seen. Today we were just installing and running around. The good news is we have the ability to do that, where we have some flexibility based on who we have.”
Having a versatile defense gives the Buckeyes an answer for almost any scenario, and as the head coach, it’s Ryan Day’s job to prepare for every last one of them.
That’s why he wants a defense that can adapt to whatever an offense can throw at them. What this defense actually looks like from snap to snap will change for any number of reasons, provided they have the players that can make that happen.
“Injuries, what they can do, who we think the best guys are to put on the field, how a team’s attacking us in their personnel groupings,” he explained. “Sometimes with two tight ends in a game, that would dictate who goes in the game. If there’s four wideouts in the game with no tight end, now we would have the ability to maybe put a smaller guy into that role based on what the defense is trying to do. But first we’ve got to find out who can do it and then we can go from there and build the packages.”