COLUMBUS, Ohio — Here is everything Ohio State acting head coach Ryan Day said on Sept, 3, 2018. Watch the full press conference at the top of the post, and remember to subscribe to the Ohio State Football on cleveland.com channel on YouTube.
Q. Ryan, it’s such an interesting dynamic. Can you clarify now that Urban is back, is your role as simple as you’re in charge game days and he’s in charge through the week?
Day: Coach came back today, we had a meeting earlier this morning, and he’s been meeting with some of the players, so things are back to normal.
Q. You touched on the offense after the game, said it might be a little too fast at times, but if it keeps the defense — they were extremely uncomfortable, and you guys were a little uncomfortable. Is that a trade-off? Does that make sense to you?
Day: It was really hot, it was humid, even in warm-ups, and even leading up to the game, so it took a toll on both sides, so it got sloppy there for a while, but we did play some depth in there. I think that was to our advantage in the game. We have shoot almost ten deep at receiver, and we’re three deep at tight end and we actually rolled the offensive line a couple times, so that was to our advantage.
Q. What was the reaction when Urban came back today? Was it strictly normal or was there any —
Day: A lot of the coaches hadn’t seen him much, again, so embracing and great to see you back, but we got back to our meeting. We had our meeting; it was business as usual.
Q. How was his demeanor? How would you describe him today?
Day: Coach is Coach, you know? Talked to the staff about moving forward, going to the game. We debriefed on Saturday’s game and now we’re working at game planning today.
Q. Coach, I’ve heard more than once that the biggest jump you will every see a player make is between their first game and their second. I’m wondering if you think the same is true of head coaches and if so where your biggest area of improvement might be going from week one to week two?
Day: Everything was for the first time on Saturday, so there were just some things made some notes on some things going from offense to special teams to defense, like even at the end of the half, being aware of the situation, making sure I was right there in case we needed timeouts or communicating with Greg and the guys on special teams, so, yeah, anytime you do something for a second time, it becomes easier and more efficient.
Q. How long this week do you make sure that this isn’t the equivalent of Urban writing the first 14 chapters of a book and leaving you to write the big finish?
Day: I said it last week, that so much of coaching is done during the week. Today the game planning, the decisions that are made up to the game is really where most of the coaching is done, and then once we get on the field the game plan is in and now it’s just a matter of calling the plays and going from there.
So yeah, it’s kind of Coach is back, and we’re going with Coach, and once we get to the game the decisions are almost made before we get there.
Q. Ryan, I asked you about the tempo after the game and I know it changes throughout the game situation and score, but coming into the season was there any desire to want to play faster, at least at the beginning of the game, and is there anything about that that suits Dwayne better?
Day: We like to play with tempo. We played with temp last year as well. I think that our guys are suited for that. What Mick has done with those guys in the summer, getting them in shape, especially the guys up front, they run well, they’re athletic, really good. So that was our thought process going into the season was that we wanted to play with some tempo, and also for a young quarterback at times you get a feel for does it stress him out or does he feel more comfortable in that environment. We found it does make him feel more comfortable, they like playing fast, and in the no-huddle offense I think they feel comfortable playing at that speed.
Q. And with you on the sideline and Kevin in the box and Urban not there to be part of the collaboration, how do you feel the play calling went and how did that maybe impact the speed at which you were able to play?
Day: I thought it was pretty efficient. It seemed like we were moving at a good clip. We were snapping the ball pretty fast. I think guys were getting up and getting set. Talked to the receivers, the quarterbacks and the guys carrying the ball to get to the ball to the official a little bit better, so we could be more efficient. We looked at that on film. I thought that was good, but the overall operation I thought was clean.
Q. Ryan, when it comes to Jordan Fuller, do you have an update on how his hamstring is doing, and when you looked at the tape of some of the breakdowns in the secondary, what did you guys see there? Was it young kids making mistakes or easy fixes?
Day: Greg is going to come up later, and Greg can address some of that stuff, but Jordan was a game-time decision coming down to the field. Shaun and the guys were working him out to see if he could do it. We felt like it was better to hold him, so we made that decision, and he’s getting treatment today and obviously this weekend so looking forward to getting him in practice this week and going from there.
Q. Demario McCall is somebody that a lot of people are very interested in, and I know he was supposed to be a return man, and he didn’t really see the field much. What’s his status in terms of, is it just too many people returned, is it going to be hard to get him on the field? What’s your viewpoint of his role on this team?
Day: He’s part of a group that’s pretty deep right now. He’s working his way up. He had a nice return in the game. I think it was 26 yards, really did a nice job there, ball was high, nice and tight, so ball security.
Anytime you put that on film that’s going to give us more and more confidence to put him back out there.
Q. You mentioned receivers and the depth, and I know one guy that will have a big game this week might be a little quieter next week. Terry McLaurin one of your leaders on the team, we have only known him for a couple of years, but he’s come a long way. He has worked so hard, and he has a game like he did last week, what does that do for you as a coach? How did that make you feel?
Day: That was probably one of my — in terms of looking at the game and watching the film, something that was — I was proud of him. Because Terry has put a lot of work in here. He’s a captain. He’s one of our best practice players. Practices really hard, he blocks really, really well, does all those things.
Like you said, there have been times in his career where it’s faith without results, where — just keep running the route, Terry, the ball is going to find you, and it did. Very happy for him, well deserved, and I think that he is a great start to a great year for him.
Q. What does it says about that group where they can go a game without a catch, but nobody seems to mind?
Day: Says a lot about that room and the leadership in that room. I think sometimes as receivers, you can get selfish. I don’t think that’s a selfish group. They pull for each other, and they know that if we are playing fast and we are playing depth they need each other, so it does say a lot about that group.
Q. Ryan, obviously Mike Weber had a great day. Were you happy looking back on it, the way that those guys, Weber and J.K. were rotating, and is that what we’re likely to see this week?
Day: It is, kind of like we talked about going in, I keep saying it’s a two-headed monster. You’ve got two guys going there that are really, really talented. Sometimes it is the way that the play was blocked, you know, where we got Mike to the safety a couple of times, but Mike, you know, made those plays count.
He made those safeties miss on several occasions. So he was running downhill, but J.K. played well, as well, so we will continue with that kind of rotation and they need each other. Like we said, same thing. When you are playing — I think we had 91 plays to film, I don’t know how many of those were penalties but it was high. You need the play depth. And then you saw Brian and Master get in there and also run the ball when they had a chance as well, so good group as well.
Q. Obviously a unique situation you taking over for the weekend. When do you get the reigns back Friday night or Saturday, and are you doing anything different to make sure that transition goes smoothly?
Day: No, we’re going to pick it up from when Coach was here. He will be with the team on Friday, he can’t be with them on Saturday, but other than that we will keep the routine, which is what we did last week. We did everything we would do normally, and now it’s just great to have Coach back so we can keep things rolling.
Q. Did he beat everybody to the office this morning?
Day: I don’t know. I know he was excited to get back here.
Q. Ryan, now that you have a game as a head coach under your belt, do you feel like as you go into these meetings with Coach Meyer and the rest was the coaches on the staff that you can take a little bit more influence or you have more input than you did before?
Day: No. I think it’s been a group effort the whole time, and I’ve referred to these guys and everybody on this staff, like I said a million times, how unbelievable this coaching staff is, and it’s been a group effort all along. I don’t think I’ve done anything more than what is required in this situation. Now we have Coach back, kind of keep that going, it’s a group effort as we move forward.
And I also think that when you look at our staff, you know, the way that our staff is built, on offense it’s Kevin and I working together.
Then we have, you know, Greg, Tony, Brian and the whole offensive staff. It is a collaborative effort. We take a lot of pride in that. Everybody has a certain area that they work on, so somebody might have third downs, somebody might have short yardage, somebody has the run game, first and second down, so everybody adds that into the game plan and that’s what you see on Saturday.
Q. Did Coach Meyer give you an assessment on your performance this morning?
Day: I think the comment he made was, “You only had to punt once, huh? That’s a pretty good day.” I said, “Yeah.”
Q. Ryan, one of the first things Dwayne said when he came out on Saturday was talking about the interception, not the good stuff that happened. I imagine as a coach that’s what you would rather hear, that they’re looking at the mistakes not what they did well. When you guys look at that play in particular or maybe some others for Saturday, where do you see room for him to grow?
Day: I think what happens is as you step up into the conference and some of the games get a little tighter, the decisions that you make become more and more consequential, so he needs to understand that. We all do. It wasn’t just the throw, either, there was a little bit of breakdown up front, he got forced to throw the ball a little bit sooner than he should have. So that’s how you can lose a game. So we have to understand that. As a whole offense, one play can ruin your whole afternoon, and we have to be aware of that, so as the games get closer and closer, we’re on top of that and, you know, we’re making good decisions to manage the game.
One thing I do want to say about that interpretation that was remarkable was the effort on that play to tackle the ball carrier. It was a crazy play, and the ball squirted out and two guys in particular if you go back and watch the film ended up getting him down was Binjimen Victor and Isaiah Prince and to see 59 running the length of the field to make that tackle was really amazing. It wasn’t a fun play to watch, it was a mess, but the effort on that play to get him down was remarkable.
Q. When it comes to getting Tate involved, was that — where he came in that first time, was that always part of the plan or take me through how you approach maybe not disrupting the offense, getting Tate involved, how that plan will go moving forward?
Day: I think it will change as we go into each week and what we see with the defense. We want to kinda get him in the game. How it plays out, can’t really predict how that’s going to work, but we definitely want to get him in the game and let him go play.
Q. Ryan, just to clarify, did you move your stuff out of Urban’s office last night or this morning? (Laughter.)
Day: I think you know the answer to that.
Q. It seems like Dwayne throws in rhythm, middle of the field, those intermediate throws. How comfortable is he making those throws? How good is he at sort of just evaluating this is where this should go, my guy is there, let’s do it?
Day: The ball comes out of his hand quick as you can see, and he is a rhythm passer. So much of that has to go with the protection. When he has a nice pocket and the guys are doing a good job in protection, the spacing is right, the separation with the receivers is right, then that’s when you can see we get into a rhythm and a tempo. That part is good.
If there is a breakdown anywhere along the line that’s where, you know, you can disrupt a passing game. So we spend a lot of time talking about that and our offensive line and Coach Stud does a great job in protection. We have to block some really good guys on defense every day so that helps us in these situations. It is a collaborative effort. He does get the ball out quickly though, and he’s accurate when he throws it.
Q. Why didn’t he just, like, throw 50-yard deep throws? He has a big arm. Why aren’t you calling shot after shot after shot?
Day: Based on what the defense is giving you, so if that corner is playing really, really soft, and they’re giving you stuff underneath because maybe they’re respecting our speed, then you have to take the stuff that’s underneath. Secondly, when you’re playing fast, if you run a guy call all the way down the field and possibly miss the throw, that takes a long time for him to get all the way back so all that stuff goes into consideration, but you have to take what the defense is giving you.
You can’t force things down the field, and some young guys want to do that. They want to take their shots. They get hungry, want to take a shot down the field, if there is a safety sitting in the middle of the field at 25 yards, you can’t throw a post, so that’s all part of maturing.
Q. Coach, did Coach Meyer give you any advise on what he thinks you could do better this Saturday, and, secondly, any reaction to Joe Burrow’s first game and the outpouring he got from his former teammates?
Day: Really happy for Joe, texted Joe and his parents to let him know how happy I was for him, seeing him out there playing and really happy for he and his family. It was great to see him get a win.
I don’t know what happened but in the scuffle before the game in the mix, didn’t surprise me. He’s a competitive guy, so it was funny seeing him out there. And the other question, there wasn’t much conversation about that with Coach.
Q. Follow Saturday you mentioned the 50/50 split for J.K. and Mike. How necessary is it to make sure you don’t need to pull one of those guys out for a series, because you want to keep that tempo? I think it was only one drive when you had the first team in that you switched in between from one back to another, do you need those guys to go that full drive to have that tempo going?
Day: Good question. We just talked about that in meetings. Sometimes when you go with a series that there is four plays. They’re just rolling. You know, we had a couple of those drives. But then if it gets into six, seven, eight, nine play range, it also depends on what he’s involved in. If he just had a run for ten, and he turns around and runs the ball over here for another ten, and now you get to play four and five, and he starts to show fatigue, then that might be a time to get him out.
So we’re communicating on the headset, talking about when we can take a guy in and take a guy out, because when you sub, the referees will show you down. When you don’t sub, we can go as fast as they can put the ball down, and the referee gets out of the way. But if we sub, they will slow the game down.
Q. Second start for a quarterback is always interesting because now there is a full amount of game film on him. As a coach who works with quarterbacks, how do you manage that chess match knowing that now the defenses have a little bit more knowledge and how do you have to mask tendencies and continue to evolve to make sure they’re not keying on anything that you were doing on Saturday?
Day: I think you talk about. I think that you try and figure out early on what they were doing, like we said going into the game last week. We had to figure out in the first quarter what we were doing, and also on third down, they’ll have something cooked up on third down.
Just making the quarterback aware there may be something new, and if there is, and maybe, you know, we weren’t prepared for it, it’s something that’s catching us off guard, the first time you see it, it can’t ruin the game. You check the ball down, maybe we have punt. We get on the sideline, we make the end game adjustment and get it fixed.
Q. Chris Olave is a guy who is under the radar in recruiting but he’s clearly made an impression on the staff and his teammates. How was he able to do that and what kind of a role can he have this year?
Day: I was fortunate enough to recruit Chris. I was out recruiting a quarterback out in California and they said, we have this great receiver here who didn’t play his junior year, so we watched him play his senior year and really just tore it up the first few games and we fell in love with him. Comes from a really good family, four-sport athlete, and we knew right when he got here that he was special. He’s got really good speed.
Great hand-eye coordination. So his work ethic, to go along with that has been excellent. And he’s got great guys in a room to follow. When you’re sitting right next to Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin everyday, watching they way they go about their business, then it gives you a great role model moving forward. Proud of where he is, and you’ll see him at some point have an impact on the season.
Q. Ryan, as you look back on Saturday, what is the biggest thing you learned as a head coach in game? What is that thing that sticks with you right now that you didn’t know 48 hours ago?
Day: I don’t know if there is one thing. I think that, again, like I was saying before, being aware of everything that’s going on, so, like, for instance, if we’re trying to make an adjustment on offense and maybe the defense needs a timeout, you know, the coach has to call the timeout, so being available to have communication with special teams, being available to have communication with the defense, are we looking to go after a punt, are we not looking to go after a punt, are we going to return it, those type of things while we’re trying to make adjustments on the sidelines with the offensive line, running backs, quarterbacks and such, so I think that whole thing was probably the biggest thing that kinda caught me a little bit, and so you learn from it, be better this weekend.
Q. Did you see anything that told you Oregon State is respecting the passing game more than maybe other defenses previously or in different ways, meaning with Dwayne back there, with a better gun, for want of another term, than J.T. had? Did you see anything that was —
Day: I know what you’re asking, yeah, you’re saying was it softer coverage or the box less loaded? No, didn’t see that. We did come out early and throw the ball a little bit, so I think that may have affected it, but then you’ve still got to deal with Mike and with J.K. It was soft, the corners were soft, there wasn’t as much challenge on the line of scrimmage, and that may have been the respect for our receivers, but we didn’t see anything there that caught us as unusual.
Q. And who — God forbid something happened to Dwayne or Tate, who is your third quarterback now?
Day: Well, we have three guys there. Matt Baldwin, this week, will start doing some more, so we will see how he does this week. He’s getting closer. Chris Chugunov is a graduate transfer, just kinda showed up. He’s kind of like a guy who got signed off of waivers, and he’s here, but he just got here, so he’s learning the offense. We will see how he does this week.
Then Kory Curtis was our third string quarterback in preseason camp, so all three of those guys are helping out a little bit. They’re all working to improve, and I think as the next couple of weeks progress we will have a better idea who that guy is.
Q. When Urban showed up today was it obvious in meetings and stuff that he didn’t just sit around for a month? Could you tell he was up on Rutgers, up on Texas Christian, what was the sense you got from him about the homework he did in his off time?
Day: Coach was up with everything right from the start today.
Q. With regard to the deep passes, was it a plan to attack deep, given Dwayne’s arm or did you have to go into the game and take what the defense gives you and approach it that way?
Day: Yeah, we want to challenge people horizontally, so some of the bubble passes that we got out to Parris, and then the speed sweep that you saw him going sideways, that was a way to stretch it horizontally, and then we want to stretch it vertically, and that’s with the shots down the field, but if they’re playing soft, then you can’t force the action, you’ve got to keep us in rhythm.
If you’re playing fast, and you’re playing in rhythm and the guys are taking the underneath stuff — we called some plays that in certain coverages would dictate throwing a post or seam or down the field but because the coverage was softer you saw us come underneath and get some completions.
Q. How have you liked Dwayne’s deep ball throwing? I know you track the completions. How has he done with that?
Day: He’s been good. He’s been good. Practice, and we work on it a lot, and the receivers do a good job of tracking it. We’ll see the more we do that in the games, then we will see where it’s at.