COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Wednesday to recap the 2019 season and look ahead at the 2020 season and spring ball, which is less than two months away. He answered questions about the team as it stands now and his concerns for the coming season. Here are the highlights.
+ Day started off by thanking the media for their professionalism “across the board from beginning to end.”
+ Day reiterated that the base defense is a one-high safety, but they will diversify some more in 2020. “We’re going to keep the structure what it is now.”
+ The 2020 recruiting numbers are pretty tight, so there will “probably not” be another running back. “But we’ll see how things go.”
+ Corey Dennis’ familiarity with the program was very important in hiring. He has been Day’s right-hand man since Day’s arrival. “I feel great with not on the fact that he can teach it the way that we teach it, but the continuity in that (QB) room.” This is the third QB coach in three years, so he wants some stability now and Dennis is invested in Ohio State. It was very exciting for Dennis and his family to be able to remain in Columbus.
+ Day congratulated Joe Burrow after the national title game. It was awesome to see how he handled himself all year long.
+ “I think it was a successful season for sure.” First year together as a coaching staff, first-year starting quarterback, there were so many positives. They did not reach all of their goals, however. This is now a hungry team. “We’re already moved on.” “These guys have tasted it now.”
+ He declined to grade himself as a first-year coach. It’s a hell of a season to do what they did, including a win over the rival.
+ The biggest concern heading into the spring is finding leadership. It’s not really a concern, but it needs to happen.
+ Day has moved on from the anger part of the loss to Clemson. There were enough mistakes to find issues to correct. The margin for error is tiny. “I don’t know if we’ve moved on. I don’t know if that’s the word.” But they are moving forward to 2020.
+ He has learned from some of his mistakes and year two is always different for a first-time head coach. This is going to be a new team and a new staff.
+ Day is interested to see how the 15 mid-year enrollees mesh with the team because that’s a very big chunk of the roster.
+ He wants a quarterbacks coach because it’s such a large job for a head coach to do on his own. Kevin Wilson is also heavily involved with the offense and will be more involved with the play calling. On the practice field, he’s pretty attached to the quarterbacks, but with the meetings and things like that, he doesn’t have the time. That’s part of being a head coach — you have to trust your coaches and you have to let things go and allow them to do their jobs.
+ Corey Dennis is invested in Ohio State for a while, and that was important. He also teaches the position the way Day wants it taught. “Corey’s bought into that and he’s going to enhance it.”
+ Day was at the AFCA meeting yesterday and there were discussions about targeting. It’s a difficult thing to officiate. It’s in there for the right reasons, but there is gray area, which makes the calls hard. Day doesn’t like the “walk of shame” aspect to it. “I do think there’s some different things we can look at.”
+ It was huge to get Shaun Wade back. Just like when Damon Arnette came back last year. Wade now moves to corner full time outside. He should be a Thorpe Award finalist immediately and a first-round draft pick. He needs to become a leader for this defense.
+ As opposed to every second or every other second thinking about the loss as he did for a while, he is able to think about it less now, but “it’s going to stay fresh in our minds.”
+ Mike Yurcich did a great job and Justin Fields developed over the course of the season. It’s frustrating that he was only here one year and then he’s gone. At Ohio State, Day gets that. Day “for sure” wanted Yurcich to stay, but the money was too much to pass up and he wishes him nothing but the best.
+ CJ Stroud and Jack Miller will compete to backup Justin Fields. The room is stronger than it was a year ago. The young guys can build leadership by leading the group of freshmen, or by just being encouraging during practice. There are certain ways to build credibility. A lot of it is just building and displaying work ethic. You can’t have too many leaders at quarterback. Guys can compete and still be friends. “The relationship can still be good in there.”
+ Faking injuries to slow down tempo teams is unethical.
+ The defensive scheme and its implementation was a success. He thinks they could have done more against Clemson, but this was a great start.
+ Justin Fields’ knee injury wasn’t catastrophic, but he wasn’t 100%. He missed some practices, but he was tough and he competed and he played hard. Heading into the Big Ten Championship Game, he didn’t really practice much. It was similar to JT Barrett before the 2017 B1G Championship Game. “The way he played says a lot about who he is.” He played well against Clemson. Really proud of the way he came along this year. “It’s exciting that we’re going to have him back.” This is the first time he’s had a quarterback for a second year in the last eight years.
+ They don’t see any knee issues with Fields moving forward.
+ There will be a quarterback meeting tomorrow with Justin Fields and Day and Corey Dennis will talk about what is next for Fields.
+ Corey Dennis has been around really good quarterbacks and he knows what they look like. He has a good eye for talent and a dynamic personality. Kids and parents like him. Good husband and father. Has played the position. He understands what the offense is doing in terms of attacking defenses. Also, recruits will know that he’s going to be here for a while. They will work together on quarterback evaluations because Day will always want to see them throw live as well. “I always feel like I always need to see a guy throw live.”
+ Chris Olave is the ultimate competitor. “I’m not sure he ate solid food for the next three or four days after the game.” He was crushed.
+ They will rank the top six wide receivers, then whoever those top six are, they will get on the field. They don’t want to pigeonhole anybody and say, ‘You’re just this.’ Guys who change direction really well work in the slot better. There’s time to figure that out.
+ Not sure what Master Teague needs to show to be “the guy.” It’s a young group of running backs. Master Teague came in late into games, but he didn’t have many carries in big moments early in games. That’s the next step for him because he does have the ability.
+ It was not a mistake to have Justin Fields in at the end of the game when he got hurt against Penn State.
+ Day doesn’t think it’s a risk hiring Corey Dennis because he knows what he is capable of. “I think it’s going to be a great fit.” Everything they invest in Dennis they will get back because he is young. “Corey was what I wanted. I didn’t really spend much time thinking about it.”
+ Any time you follow a legend, it can be overwhelming. But he only ever approached this as an opportunity. They focused on building a tough team. “Everyone in Buckeye Nation saw a team that played really, really hard.”
+ “I think these guys are going to come back even more hungry.”
+ Have not hired any defensive assistant yet. Not gonna get into names.
+ The stage wasn’t too big for anybody on this team. “We were locked in.” They will continue to work on being able to win a game in the final two minutes.
+ “It was hard to watch. I’m not going to lie.” Day told his team and his coaches to watch the national championship game and asked them what are they willing to do to get there.”
+ On playing LSU: “It would have been fun.”
+ When you end a season it can be easy to say let’s get back out there, but you have to rebuild the team and start one game at a time. So many things have to go well to get to that point. “That isn’t just going to happen.”
+ It’s going to be hard to replace the three losses in the secondary. The good news is those guys have played.
+ Leadership will be a big area of focus with Justin Fields in the offseason.
+ Day and Kevin Wilson have worked together on calling plays since they arrived, and allowing Wilson to call plays is a way to free Day up for other things on the field.