With the Buckeyes on an off week following their 49-20 loss to Purdue on Saturday, Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano met with the media on Wednesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to discuss how the Buckeyes are using this week to work on improving.
Schiano was the first coordinator to meet with the media. A sampling of what he had to say:
- Schiano says the Buckeyes actually moved away from walking their linebackers up to the line of scrimmage, less than they have in previous weeks, despite James Laurinaitis and Jeff Brohm both pointing out that opposing offenses have taken advantage of that.
- "There is no one thing," Schiano said of the defense's struggles, "it's a combination of them all."
- "We had a tough night Saturday night, without a doubt," Schiano said, but he still believes the Buckeyes defense is getting better. "I think we're getting close, and just in the nick of time, because we're going to need to play really good defense down the stretch."
- On having some inexperienced players on his defense: "At Ohio State, young is good, because that means old is playing in the NFL."
- Schiano said the Buckeyes missed 20 tackles in the Purdue game. "And we haven't missed 20 tackles since we've been here." Said tackling has been an emphasis this week. Said he believes about half of those tackles occurred in the fourth quarter.
- Schiano said the bye week has been valuable to work with the players on fundamentals and focusing on getting themselves better instead of focusing on another opponent.
- Schiano said Ohio State's defense made a "critical error" on the 19-yard run by D.J. Knox that sparked Purdue's touchdown drive at the end of the first half.
- On giving up three fourth-quarter touchdowns: "The fourth quarter really got away from us."
- Schiano said he believe the Buckeyes need to improve both their scheme and execution to play better, and that would be the case even if their defense was playing well. Said there's no one singular thing they can fix to make everything better.
- On the criticism Ohio State's linebackers have gotten: "I actually think the linebackers have played consistently."
- Schiano said he has seen players make mistakes in the game that they haven't made in practice because of the "pressure of the game," but believe they are getting closer to taking what they're doing on the practice field into games.
- If Chase Young can make his game more complete, "Watch out, because he's a special athlete," Schiano said. Schiano said he is seeing improvement from the sophomore defensive end.
- Schiano said the Buckeyes don't plan to make any "wholesale" changes to their defensive scheme, but are looking for ways to put their players in better positions to make plays.
- Schiano says the Buckeyes have played more zone coverage this year than they have in the past. "Can we play more of it? Sure we can," but says man coverage will continue to be Ohio State's priority.
Day met with the media after Schiano to talk about the Buckeyes' offense. What you need to know from his time answering questions:
- Day said the coaches are working through the process of figuring out whether their issues in run blocking are based in personnel, execution or scheme.
- Day said he "can't say enough good things about" J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber even though they haven't been able to get going as much in the run game this year.
- On the Buckeyes' struggles in the red zone on Saturday: "We missed a few passes down there that we've hit (in previous weeks) ... but also, we have to be able to pound the ball and get three yards when we need to."
- Branden Bowen is "not ready to play yet," but he is practicing this week.
- Day said he doesn't anticipate any lineup changes on the offensive line at this point, but said there's always competition, especially this week during the off week.
- On the possibility of playing Tate Martell in the red zone, Day gave a similar answer to that which he has given in previous weeks: "We're constantly looking at that."
- Day said he believes the offensive line should be able to impose its will on opposing defenses. Has it done that this year? "We're evaluating that right now."
- "Running Dwayne down there really isn't as much of an option as it used to be with J.T.," so Day said the Buckeyes are looking at different options for running the ball in the red zone.
- On Haskins' missed passes in the red zone: "When you're in that role, and you have to chance to make a play with your arm, you got to make it."
- Binjimen Victor will start for Ohio State at X receiver with Austin Mack out. Day also said Jaylen Harris is a "young guy that's going to have step up as well," and that he could be in line for more playing time, while the Buckeyes could also move Terry McLaurin or Johnnie Dixon over into that spot.
- Day's overall mood about this offense: "Just frustrated that we've done so many good things, but didn't have much to show for it on Saturday night."
Day and Schiano also held separate video interviews from their time in the team room on Wednesday, so you can watch those to hear more of what the two coordinators had to say about their units and their need to improve.