COLUMBUS, Ohio — Game week has officially arrived. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with the media ahead of the Buckeyes’ primetime game vs No. 5 Notre Dame.
Here are the highlights of what was said.
+ Notre Dame is coached very well and they do a great job mixing up the styles of defense that they play. He’s sure Marcus Freeman’s hands are all over the defense but they also have a new defensive coordinator. Day is most concerned about the unknown.
+Kyle McCord is the backup quarterback this week. Devin Brown is right there too, he’s working really hard. But going into this first one, McCord has more experience and knowledge of the offense. “They have to show up everyday and compete and get better.”
+ TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams and Dallan Hayden will all be used at running back. Henderson will start, Williams will come in quickly, and they may also use Hayden.
+ On Freeman saying running the ball and stopping the run will be keys to the game, Day said he agrees that’s where it all starts. Notre Dame does a great job running the ball. Establishing the run on offense is critical. That is a point of emphasis in every game they play. They’ve spent a lot of time on it but not any more than they have in the past.
+ On the excitement this weekend including hosting a high number of recruits, Day said they’ve had conversations about recruits and it’s exciting. “We are going to have a big number here.” The recruits get to see the whole atmosphere, take it all in, and visualize themselves on the field. There are people flying in from all over the country. But all of the focus has to be on the game and Notre Dame. “Time will be limited.”
+ It’s interesting to look at the cross over on the staff between Ohio State and Notre Dame. “It’s a small world and it’s kind of unique but it’s exciting.”
+ They are expecting a high-level of play from Notre Dame’s quarterback.
+ On the comfort of having C.J. Stroud, Day said it’s a different feeling from last year but there are other challenges and things that are new. But having someone who can handle a lot makes a big difference. His experience helps with being able to make in-game adjustments.
+ On Steele Chambers being more comfortable at linebacker, Day said that room is doing well. “They see it from a wider scope, being with Jim [Knowles] everyday in meetings.” Chambers is one more year veteran and as a group they have a lot more experience.
+ On changing signals or personnel for Saturday, Day said they have to be aware of what Notre Dame knows and make adjustments.
+ It’s hard to appreciate this game because of everything that is going on. “But what a great opportunity, that’s what college football is all about.”
+ On the 2002 National Championship team being recognized, Day said it’s great to see them being recognized. That team had a great impact on Ohio State and Columbus. “I’m glad they’re a part of it.” It goes to show how much being a National Champion at Ohio State means and how long it lives on.
+ “Our really good players have to play really well.”
+ Day said for the whole offense, they have to “start the season and get going.” As the leader of the offense, Stroud has to lead his team to the end zone. The run game is a big part of that.
+ “Coming off of last year, there’s no big heads. This team is hungry, they have been hungry. This team is gritty.” “There’s no big heads on this team right now, we’ve got a lot to prove.”
+ On preparing for Notre Dame with no season tape, Day said every year that’s a challenge. They try to project, but they have to have a good contingency plan for in-game adjustments.
+ On the area of the defense that has made the most improvement, Day said the front is creating disruption and is getting after the quarterback and disrupting the run game, the linebackers are seeing things and diagnosing faster, and the secondary is playing at a high level. Overall, players are embracing the new scheme and are playing with more confidence.
+ Day’s mindset is “to just have a great day today.” He feels good about the preseason and the preparation. “This team wants to be good.” But they have to go play the game and keep working.
+ “The Nation will be watching and you get to be front and center” is what he tells his team. But they also can’t make it bigger than it is. “The players know and they feel it, and they’ve been preparing all summer.”
+ The players are ready to face an opponent. He’s excited to see the defense against an opponent. “It’s going to be fun to watch.”
+ On blocking out the noise, Day said they are focusing on the process and on each day to make sure they have the stamina they need to win the game.
+ When he thinks about Matt Jones, he thinks of ‘fight.’ He is a man of few words but he got in front of the team and spoke about what the brotherhood means to him. “He just kept putting one day in front of the other.” Day is very proud of Jones and his journey. He has the chance to have a really good season.
+ On coaching in The Shoe for the first time, Knowles just wants to do the job. He will be thinking about calling the first play and then calling the next.
+ He tells his players that on game-days all of their mistakes are on him because “if they’re not ready, it’s my fault.” But during the week he is pointing out their mistakes and is hard on them.
+ On not having a lot of film on Notre Dame’s quarterback, Knowles said he’s done his due diligence but they have to be ready for everything and be able to adjust. “It comes back to training.”
+ They have to blend in different coverages and mix things up to cover Notre Dame’s tight end. They have to change it up with him to keep him off balance. They have to have eyes on him at all times. “These guys have a great tight end, so we have to make sure we have a game plan for him.”
+ On how ready the defense is, “we’re ready. We’re 100 percent ready to go.”
+ On whether he will take a moment before the game to appreciate where he is, Knowles said “nope.” The players need him to have a locked-in mindset. “It’s the same process but the expectations are different.” He will think about all of the nice parts about it when he gets old and can relax.
+ Lathan Ransom had a great camp, to come off an injury like that and to do what he’s done in practice, Knowles said he jumps out. “He has that intuitive feeling for where the ball is going to be and he gets after it.”