Presser Bullets: Ryan Day, Greg Mattison and Kevin Wilson Review Ohio State's First Half of the Regular Season, Look Ahead to Second Half

By Dan Hope on October 8, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Ohio State doesn't have a game this week, but head coach Ryan Day and his two most veteran coordinators – Greg Mattison and Kevin Wilson – met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the Buckeyes' first six games of the season, including their 34-10 win over Michigan State on Saturday, and look ahead to the second half of the regular season as their preparation continues during their first bye week of the year.

Bullet-point updates from what all three of them had to say in their question-and-answer sessions with reporters:

Ryan Day:

  • Day said the Buckeyes are in a "self-evaluation" phase this week. He said the Buckeyes are looking at both what they have done well and what they need to improve on, and the coaches are giving every individual player something to work on this week to help them improve.
  • The Buckeyes will have Thursday, Friday and Saturday off, then come back on Sunday in preparation for next week's Friday game at Northwestern.
  • Day said the Buckeyes are "a little battered" after playing six straight games, especially after a physical game against Michigan State on Saturday, so the bye week comes at a good time for the players to get some rest and recovery time.
  • Day said it was great for the Buckeyes to be able to bring in so many recruits on Saturday and for them to get to see the environment in Ohio Stadium for Saturday's home night game.
  • On balancing maintaining relationships with commits for the 2020 class and pursuing targets for the 2021 class: "That's why you work so many hours."
  • On the state of Ohio's talent in the recruiting class of 2021: "It's huge because in recruiting, for us, our foundation is Ohio for sure, and the Midwest. ... When you have so many guys in Ohio who are right down the street from us, it's big. It's working at a high level for us."
  • Day said the team's chemistry is one of the biggest positives through the first half of the season.
  • Day said he is pleased with the toughness that Justin Fields has shown in his first six games as Ohio State's quarterback. The way Fields has bounced right back after taking hard shots has impressed Day. “When you’re preaching toughness and your quarterback takes a shot in the face ... That just goes to show you what this kid is made of."
  • A bye week gives the Buckeyes time to get healthy as well as an extra week to game plan for their next game against Northwestern, who also has an off week this week.
  • Asked how he would respond if an NFL team called him about a head coaching job, Day replied, "I don't really ever want to talk about that stuff. I love it here, and this is where I want to be."
  • Asked whether Brendon White is the odd man out in this defense, Day disagreed and said he has a role in the Sam linebacker rotation, along with Pete Werner, Justin Hilliard and Jahsen Wint.
  • Asked by Tim May whether he would be at Ohio State for 28 years, Day laughed and said "I don't know if I can make it that long."
  • "It's great to be 6-0. I think when we looked at our season, we saw this first six games as a chunk ... It's something we talked with our team about, and our first goal was to get to 6-0, and here we are ... We're just halfway through the season, and we still got a long way to go."
  • Day acknowledges that there are more expectations going forward because of how well the Buckeyes have started.
  • Day on the offensive line: "When it was tough sledding early, they didn’t panic. They just kept swinging away."
  • Pressed on whether he has contacted by the Redskins, Day said "No," but reiterated that he didn't want to talk about NFL job offers.
  • On Dwayne Haskins, who is currently a backup quarterback for the Redskins: "He'll be fine." Day said he still talks to Haskins regularly.
  • On Fields: “I think Justin can make any throw on the field at any point. There’s not an area of the field he can’t get it.”
  • Day said he was proud of Luke Farrell for his touchdown catch that he made on Saturday. "We needed that play in that game." Said the opportunity for Farrell to make a big play was "well-deserved" because he is a guy who does things the right way and doesn't bring a lot of attention to himself. “He’s not a guy who takes a lot of maintenance. You tell him something once and he gets it.”
  • "These guys are kids that grew up and dreamed of being in environments that they were in on Saturday night."
  • "When you can run, you can really control the game."
  • Day said offenses try to target the slot cornerback a lot, and Shaun Wade has the versatility to do everything the Buckeyes need him to do against both the pass and the run.
  • On J.K. Dobbins' 67-yard touchdown, Day said "Josh Myers did a really good job getting up on (Michigan State linebacker Joe) Bachie there" to help spring Dobbins up the middle. K.J. Hill also had a key block on the play.
  • On Jonah Jackson: "I would say Jonah's as close to a man and pro as I've been around in a long time." Said he has been pleased with the way the entire offensive line has played, but "the challenge is can we keep it up now."
  • Day said that after having to move his family three times in three years, he decided that he wanted to stay at Ohio State as long as he could. Day previously coached for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers before coming to Ohio State.
  • Day noted that Chase Young came as close as he possibly could to blocking two field goals on Saturday.
  • "Our return game has just been OK ... I still think our return game can be better."
  • On Nick Bosa: "I was proud of the way he played. It was great to finally see him healthy."

Greg Mattison:

  • On the third-down package the Buckeyes used Saturday with a three-man defensive line, Mattison said the goal of that package is to get more speed on the field.
  • On Zach Harrison, who played nose tackle in that package, Day said he has been pleased with how hard Harrison has worked to improve since he arrived at Ohio State. "Zach's working extremely hard, and I'm very pleased with him. ... Every day you see him get better."
  • Mattison said Day is not "phony" or "fake," and the players see how genuine he is and respond to that.
  • Mattison said he didn't have to study Ohio State's traditions because of how many times he coached against them when he was at Michigan.
  • On working backups into the rotation: "We're trying to play anybody that has earned the right to play."
  • On Chase Young: "He's very, very talented, he works extremely hard, he's got tremendous character, he's got all of it."
  • Mattison isn't surprised by Harrison making an early impact because he attempted to recruit him to Michigan and could see that talent all along. "He's just what you thought he would be."
  • Mattison said Harrison is "as fast as running backs at some places."
  • Mattison said Day has given the defensive coaches advice and has suggested things that have really worked well against him as an offensive coordinator, but Day spends most of his time concentrating on offense and allows the defensive coaches to lead their side of the ball. 
  • On Shaun Wade's versatility: "He allows us to be able to match personnel groups."
  • Mattison is fine with his cornerbacks talking trash on the field. "You better be a little different out there, and you better have confidence, or you're just not gonna make it out there." Said he thinks Ohio State's cornerbacks understand the lines they cannot cross.
  • Mattison said the Sam/bullet position is a "one-player position," which is why Brendon White isn't playing as much as last year, but White is rotating in for Pete Werner more than any other player at that position. "Pete Werner's done a great job, which has therefore given us the luxury that we don't have to substitute."

Kevin Wilson:

  • Robert Landers poked his head into the room briefly before Kevin Wilson arrived at the podium: "I'm sorry you don't get the main event today," Landers joked.
  • Asked about Nick Bosa's flag-plant on Monday night, Wilson deadpanned, "You're not allowed to taunt in college."
  • Wilson said he has been able to see all of his son's Friday night football games before home games, but it's nice to have some more family time this week.
  • Wilson is pleased with the momentum the offense has built and the plays the Buckeyes have been able to make in the run game.
  • In order to play at their best, the Buckeyes need to take care of their bodies, so they need to have the maturity to find the balance that enables them to keep working hard during the off week.
  • On Josh Myers: "He's played really good. He's played real good." Said he believes Harry Miller is ready to play right now as a true freshman, but as well as Myers and other interior offensive linemen have played, they don't need him to start yet.
  • Wilson said he likes what he has seen from Nicholas Petit-Frere's development, but offensive line coach Greg Studrawa trusts fifth-year seniors Branden Bowen and Joshua Alabi more at right tackle right now. Depth behind starting guards Jonah Jackson and Wyatt Davis still needs to improve, but Bowen could also kick back inside to guard if needed.
  • Wilson said he expects Bowen and Alabi to both see first-team reps the remainder of the season. “Kind of like tight ends – it doesn’t matter who goes in there first, they’re both playing." Bowen was banged up going into the game against Nebraska, so he didn't play even though he was available, and Alabi was banged up going into the Michigan State game after playing the entire game against Nebraska, which led to some of his struggles.
  • Wilson said Day and Mike Yurcich are the coaches who talk primarily with Fields during games, but Wilson sometimes listens in and speaks up if needed.
  • Wilson said he believes both Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow benefitted from being able to learn behind J.T. Barrett during their Ohio State careers.
  • Wilson said he has been impressed with Fields' maturity and calmess during games and the way he has prepared.
  • Wilson praised several wide receivers and tight ends for their effort as blockers, including true freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson: "I thought Garrett Wilson did a tremendous job as a freshman blocking the other night."
  • Wilson said the Buckeyes try to strike the right balance between practicing hard and not getting guys hurt.
  • On Justin Fields: "He's as skilled as anyone I've ever been around. But at the same time, he's just scratching the surface."
  • Wilson said he thinks Luke Farrell is a better player than Farrell himself thinks he is, and he wants to see Farrell play with more confidence and more swagger. Wilson said Farrell gives as much effort as anyone in practice, yet Farrell's goal entering the week was to give even more effort in practice.
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