COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, and a handful of Buckeye players met with the media immediately following the 2022 Spring Game on Saturday.
Here are the highlights of what was said.
+ The game was very very basic on both sides of the ball but he liked the physicality and the tackling. That was something they wanted to get done.
+ The depth of the defensive line is going to be a strength for them.
+ Julian Fleming has been day-to-day and they decided to not put him in the game. They are just being careful with him.
+ The young defensive backs have had good springs. They have shown up and been aggressive and got their hands on some balls. “You saw the potential today.” They have really grasped onto what coaches Walton and Eliano have taught them.
+ On Evan Pryor’s burst, Day said he’s has a very good spring. He has a good wiggle and is good out of the backfield, he can catch the ball and gives a little wiggle and a change of pace with the offense. If he can continue to grow and hold onto the ball he’s going to have an impact on the offense this season.
+ C.J. Stroud has been very consistent. He’s very competitive. He’s taken what the defense has given him when they are changing up looks. He wanted to get in on the last drive because he wanted to play, he’s a competitor. Stroud’s decision to wear Haskins Jr. on the back of his jersey was a personal decision. Dwayne Haskins meant a lot to him, he paved the way for him. It was emotional for Stroud.
+ On the young freshman receivers, Day said they wanted to get some of them out of the game early on but the depth is continuing to grow and build.
+ On Jack Sawyer, Day said both J.T. Tuimoloau and Sawyer have continued to grow. They’ve taken to Coach Larry Johnson with the style and scheme of Jim Knowles’ defense and it fits them. They have been strong.
+ On feeling like they have three winning running backs, Day said they have three really good running backs. He feels solid about that.
+ On the excitement of the defense, Day said there’s a lot of guys who have played a lot of football which they didn’t have last year and that combined with the new scheme is exciting to watch, “it comes at you fast.” Players are physical and fast and excited. “It’s been fun.”
+ On needing live tackling, Day said they played some tough physical games last year but there were other times where he wishes it was better. They talk about competitive stamina and bringing it every week. “The thing about Ohio State is that you’re not allowed to lose here.” It was the right thing to do at this time, tackling and playing. “Today was good.”
+ On the tight end position, Day said he’s been impressed. Losing Jeremy Ruckert was significant but Cade Stover stepped up, Joe Royer and Gee Scott have been great, and they’re getting Mitch Rossi back. They have a lot of options. Bennett Christian has been showing up too. “It’s a developmental position.” It’s difficult to come in as a young player. “We’re hoping that’s a position of strength for us come August.”
+ On the decision to honor Haskins, Stroud said he wanted to honor Haskins’ last moment in the Shoe. He thought it was important for him to have another touchdown in the Shoe. Haskins was like a big brother to him, he was always an inspiration for him. He changed the culture of the quarterback room at Ohio State with his 50 passing touchdowns.
+ On watching the halftime tribute video for Dwayne Haskins, Stroud said it was a team thing but to have a prayer together, it was an emotional moment.
+ The spring was good to see both the offense and defense making plays. It was a lot of back and forth and they were all challenging each other.
+ On his touchdown, Pryor said he was just trying to find a way to score. That’s what went through his head and that’s what goes through his head on every play he has the ball.
+ On showing how the three running backs can complement each other, Pryor said a lot of people question how three running backs can be in the same room, and wonders if there are enough touches for everyone. But “all three of us are going to eat and have a great season.”
+ On where he was a year ago and his personal growth, Tuimoloau said he’s working on his technique and wants to keep learning from the older players and coach Johnson.
+ On taking his game to another level this season, he said the first year he was just trying to get his feet in the ground. He thinks it will be a special year.
+ It was fun to get to tackle, everyone was excited to hit and do it in the Shoe.
+ The defense has a lot of momentum leaving this spring. The older players stepped up and they have a different energy. They were all holding each other accountable and have a good feel about the new scheme. They trust each other and coach Knowles.
+ On coming out of the spring with momentum, Knowles said going into the game he felt good about how much they got installed, how the players took to it, and what they got done.
+ The defense is continuing to work on playing close to people, throwing punches, and being aggressive. “We’re going to continue coaching aggressive coverage.”
+ On Kye Stokes, Knowles said Kye has had a good, good spring. He had a great game because he showed up and flashed and looked like he rose to the occasion, which they worry about with young players. He looked like it was no problem for him and he stepped him. “I liked him all along but I was impressed today.”
+ On the defensive line depth, Knowles said he loves the second-year players. He doesn’t care who starts because they are going play a lot of players up front and he wants them fresh and healthy. “I see us playing a lot of guys up there.”
+ The biggest revelation of the spring was that regardless of talent, the players want to learn and they soaked up everything. They were into it and into football and into change and the culture. “They picked it up, and at a high speed.” It’s a football-intelligent group who wants to be coached and wants to be led.
+ His biggest concern is in the back end, safeties, just because of players being banged-up this spring. He loves Josh Proctor but he’s worried about depth back there and being able to move players from position to position. He was excited to see what Kye Stokes did today because he thinks that can help with the depth.
+ On Jack Sawyer, Knowles said he loves the way he plays, he loves his toughness and Jack is a kid who snaps back a little bit and because he’s from Philly, he likes that.
+ On the status of the jack position, Knowles said he wants to sit down and look at it and see how they can blend it all together and meet with the players individually. But he is proud of the work they have done there.