For the first time all month, members of Ohio State's coaching staff met with the media on Monday morning, as interim head coach Ryan Day and defensive coordinator/associate head coach Greg Schiano held their first press conference of the season in advance of Saturday's game against Oregon State.
While there were some questions about the upcoming game, most of the questions focused on how the Buckeyes have moved forward in the wake of Urban Meyer's three-game suspension and on how the team performed in preseason practices, given that no coaches or players were available for interviews during fall camp.
A quick recap of what both coaches said in their interview sessions:
- Day began his press conference with an opening statement: "I understand there's been a lot of pain, and a lot of stress for a lot of people, over the last few weeks."
- Day said he believes the character of the Buckeyes have shown through as they faced adversity over the course of this month.
- Day said he was not interviewed as a part of Ohio State's investigation of Meyer.
- On Dwayne Haskins: "Dwayne's done a great job. Along with a lot of other guys, his leadership had to step up, and he's done that."
- In Ohio State's latest scrimmage, Day said he felt like his "hair was on fire" as he tried to balance coaching the quarterbacks, calling offensive plays and overseeing the entire team. Adjusting to the role, though, he says "Every day it's become more normal."
- Day will be calling offensive plays from the sideline on Saturday, working together with Kevin Wilson in calling plays.
- Haskins will start on Saturday, but Day expects Tate Martell to play: "Tate made a really big push. Dwayne will start on Saturday, he is the starter, but the plan is to play Tate."
- Ohio State met at 7 a.m. Thursday morning following Wednesday's announcement that Meyer would be suspended. "They looked a little tired there," but "98 percent of the time," the Buckeyes have been flying around like normal, Day said.
- Day, who previously worked for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, compared NFL and college football by saying there are closer bonds formed in college football while the NFL is "definitely a business."
- Day said he gets a text message "just about every other day" from Chip Kelly. "You're built for this," Kelly told Day.
- "The players that we're bringing in here, and the culture of those kids, is as strong as anywhere I've ever been."
- Michael Jordan will start at center for Ohio State on Saturday, while Malcolm Pridgeon will start at left guard and Demetrius Knox will start at right guard. Thayer Munford and Joshua Alabi are still splitting reps at left tackle, as Munford is battling an injury.
- Have you used this as an opportunity to talk to the team about respecting women? "Our core values here are talked about on a daily basis, and one of our core values is respecting women."
- Have you ever seen Meyer's memory affect his ability to coach the team? "No. No, I haven't."
- Day said he was "very surprised" that he was named interim head coach over Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson, and admitted that he was "caught off-guard."
- Day credited Mickey Marotti with playing a key role in keeping the Buckeyes together, calling him "the heart and soul of the team."
- Brian Hartline has "brought a lot of energy" to the team and "done a great job so far," Day said.
- Day said the team has not had any major injuries, and there's a chance everyone could be available to play on Saturday.
- Chris Chugunov is on scholarship, and Day said the Buckeyes are currently at 85 scholarships. He declined to specify who is no longer on scholarship.
- On potentially playing more than six receivers, Day said Ohio State's plan is to rotate as many receivers as they can early in the season, and see where it goes from there.
- Day said he learned from Gene Smith that he would be the acting head coach.
- On collaborating with coaches: "Everything along the way has been a group effort."
- Day expects Oregon State's defense to look like Wisconsin's defense with the Beavers' hiring of former Wisconsin linebackers coach Tim Tibesar as their new defensive coordinator.
- Day said his family will be in attendance to watch Saturday's game.
- Branden Bowen missed some time during fall camp practices as he is still working his way back from last season's leg injury.
- Day said Haskins needed to cut down on body fat.
- On Ohio State's decision to choose Day instead of him as acting head coach: "Whenever you have a situation like this, it's very complex ... Ryan is certainly qualified to do this."
- Schiano said it still isn't time to talk about what happened at Tennessee.
- Pete Werner, Baron Browning and Malik Harrison will start at linebacker on Saturday.
- Schiano said he expects the Buckeyes to rotate more linebackers this year than they have in previous years.
- When will Tuf Borland be back from his Achilles injury? "He might be back this week."
- Schiano said "it's been a great competition" at safety between Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint and both are going to play on Saturday, much like Jordan Fuller and Erick Smith did at the beginning of last season.
- "I thought we had an outstanding camp, and it's a testament to those players first, and the leadership of the whole squad."
- On the differences between colleges and the NFL: "It's definitely different. The relationships you bond with players in college, it's different, because they're growing as young men."
- "In college football, it's a lifestyle," because of recruiting and spring football, whereas in the NFL, you work a normal job for six months of the year.
- On the absence of Urban Meyer: "I think the biggest thing you miss is his leadership, the inspiration he provides not only to the players, but the coaches."
- On the responsibility Ryan Day has as acting head coach: "Hear me out, hear Kevin out, but at the end of the day, you have to do what you feel comfortable with, because your name is on it."
- "From the day I started coaching, I knew I wanted to be a head coach, and I worked for some tremendous and legendary head coaches, both in college and in the NFL."
- Schiano says the Buckeyes have studied both Washington and Colorado to get an idea for what Oregon State's offense could look like (Oregon State's offensive coordinator comes from Colorado).
- Was there a moment where you could see Day was ready to be interim head coach? Schiano said he could see that on the third day of fall camp.
- "I'm so impressed," Schiano said of how Day has done so far as acting head coach. "He's got the it."
- Keandre Jones and Justin Hilliard are "in the mix" to play at linebacker even though they won't be starting Saturday. Schiano described Hilliard as "one of the top two or three special teams players on the entire team." On Jones: "There might not be a harder worker on our entire football team."
- Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette and Jeffrey Okudah will all rotate at cornerback.
- Nick Bosa, Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper will lead the rotation at defensive end, "and then from there, we'll see, if Jashon Cornell or whoever else gets in the game."
- Will Browning play outside when Borland comes back? "We're not going to deal with that right now," instead focusing on getting Browning ready to play middle linebacker on Saturday.
- Schiano said he doesn't expect his gameday communication with Day to be much different than it is with Meyer.
- On Taver Johnson's energy vs. Kerry Coombs' energy: "I don't know if anybody can ever hit Coach Coombs' level of energy – he's caffeine 2.0 – but Taver's right there."
- Schiano said he communicated with Meyer as a friend, not about football, when he was allowed to, "because I was worried about him."
- On Ohio State's captains: "We have seven great captains."
- On Tuf Borland coming back from injury: "One of the hardest things is going to be to hold him back."
- Schiano said the new four-game redshirt rule is a "huge change," and that there's a lot of strategic thinking that's going into determining how Ohio State will take advantage of that rule.
- Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, Tommy Togiai and Taron Vincent could all potentially see playing time on the defensive linemen Saturday.
Stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for much more coverage from Monday morning's press conference.