In the middle of Ohio State's third week of fall camp, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison met with the media following the Buckeyes' 11th practice of fall camp on Wednesday.
While Day has already met with the media several times since the beginning of camp on Aug. 2, he finally revealed a likely timeline for his starting quarterback decision on Wednesday. Mattison's media availability was his first since June, leaving plenty of questions for the Buckeyes' new co-defensive coordinator, who also helps Al Washington with coaching the linebackers, specifically the Sam linebackers and bullets.
A quick recap of what both coaches said at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Wednesday:
- Day said he hopes to name a starting quarterback on Monday after the Buckeyes get through this week of practice, their final full week of fall camp. Said he has been pleased with the strides Justin Fields has made over the past couple days.
- "Right now, there is no backup running back." Said Demario McCall, Master Teague, Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers all want that job, but someone has to step up and seize it.
- On Chris Olave: "Chris is practicing right now at a starter level ... we think he's an every-down receiver."
- Day said Fields is smart and will know when he should pass the ball and when he should run the ball as a dual-threat quarterback.
- Day said he was not involved in Cris Carter's conversations with K.J. Hill and Damon Arnette advising them to stay for their senior seasons, but he said he appreciates Carter's support of the program.
- The depth chart is not yet set at the linebacker position, Day said.
- Day said next week is when the Buckeyes will start to focus on preparing for specific opponents.
- Day said he is "not concerned" about Thayer Munford even though he still isn't taking consistent reps with the first-team offense at left tackle. "He's been practicing well, practicing hard."
- Day said he has been impressed with Chase Young's maturity and how he is practicing in camp. "He's the voice of our defense. That's what I feel. That's what I see."
- On Mattison: "His experience (as a defensive coordinator) is critical for us."
- On the possibility of quarterbacks taking snaps under center: "We've messed around with it a little bit ... but we'll mostly be in the gun this year."
- On freshman running back Marcus Crowley: "He's big, he's strong and he's tough." Said he still makes some freshman mistakes but runs hard.
- On the possibility of Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor both starting at outside receiver: "Both those guys deserve to be on the field at the same time." Reiterated that the Buckeyes want to have six or seven receivers in the rotation.
- Garrett Wilson and Jaylen Harris are still fighting to be the No. 2 X receiver. "I think they'll both play, but they're both battling for that backup spot."
- Day said he would prefer to have a 50/50 split between K.J. Hill and the No. 2 slot receiver, but he could play a heavier majority of the snaps if the Buckeyes feel he is clearly the best player there. C.J. Saunders and Jaelen Gill are still battling to be his backup.
- Day said the Buckeyes are putting a big emphasis on "tough love" this year in showing love to their players but also making they are building the toughness they need to get them through the adversity they could face this year.
- On the quarterbacks' reps: "For the most part, when the ones have been out there, Justin has been out there."
- On K'Vaughan Pope's performance in camp so far: "He's done a very good job."
- Mattison said it would not be his decision whether HBO or another network would do a behind-the-scenes show on Ohio State as they have done with several other college football teams, but he expressed concerns about that being a potential distraction.
- On Pete Werner: "I really believe he is the top guy at his position. I've had the opportunity to see a lot of good football players, and I'm very impressed by him."
- Mattison said decisions haven't been made yet on whether freshmen like Cade Stover and Craig Young will play on defense this year, but he said they are making a push for playing time on special teams, which is just as important as defense. He smiled when asked about Stover and likes what he has seen from the freshman, who lost his black stripe on Tuesday, so far.
- Mattison said the linebackers have done a great job buying into what he and Washington are teaching them. "Al's done a super job with them."
- On Tuf Borland: "I like everything about Tuf Borland's game."
- On how Dallas Gant is performing at weakside linebacker: "He's really doing a lot of the things we need at that position."
- On Jeff Hafley: "Jeff has done a tremendous job ... He's a great one now. We get along tremendous."
- On Larry Johnson: "Larry's just such a great person."
- Mattison said he is not ready to say who the starting linebackers will be yet, but wants the Buckeyes to have three starting-caliber players at each linebacker position.
- Baron Browning, Tuf Borland and Teradja Mitchell are all playing Mike linebacker, but the Mike and Will linebacker positions are interchangeable to where there could be situations that two of them are on the field.
- Malik Harrison, Browning and Werner have seen the most snaps in practice in two-linebacker nickel packages as the Buckeyes' best cover linebackers.
- Mattison said he had to take on coaching a position group instead of just overseeing everyone else's position groups because "it kept me from doing something harmful to myself ... it keeps me sane." Said he didn't want to just hover over other coaches' position groups.
- "If you see our defense not run to the football, then you ask. You come up to me and talk about it," Mattison said, because that's what the Buckeyes are preaching to their defense every day. "We are going to be an aggressive defense that runs to the football, and everybody on our defense believes in that."
- Mattison said he did not want to judge Ohio State's defensive performance from last year and said Greg Schiano is a "great defensive coordinator." He also said he isn't concerned about last year's stats, pointing out once again that the Buckeyes went 13-1 last year, and said the only stat he cares about is points.
- Mattison said Brendon White is "very intelligent" and "very athletic," which gives him the ability to handle playing both bullet and safety in various packages.
- "Chase Young is an outstanding person, athlete and football player." If opponents try to double- or triple-team him, "Good luck," because that will leave Ohio State's other defensive linemen with one-on-one blocks.