Presser Bullets: Ryan Day, Jeff Hafley and Ohio State Players Preview the Buckeyes' Trip to Northwestern, Second Half of the Season

By Dan Hope and Colin Hass-Hill on October 14, 2019 at 12:52 pm
Ryan Day

With this week's game at Northwestern set to be played on Friday night, Ohio State's schedule for the week is moved up by a day.

As a result, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day held his game-week press conference on Monday this week, a throwback to the Buckeyes' previous press conference schedule under Urban Meyer. 

Day will also be joined at today's press conference by co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley, defensive end Jonathon Cooper, safety Jordan Fuller and center Josh Myers. (Tight end Jake Hausmann was originally scheduled to meet with the media on Monday, but did not).

We'll update this post with notes and quotes from each of their press conferences following their meetings with the media.

Ryan Day:

  • Day said he likes the way schedule sets up with two bye weeks in the middle portion of the regular season. This past bye week was a good opportunity to recover and get healthy after six straight games to start the year.
  • After self-scouting during the bye week, Day said there were no glaring concerns that showed up on film but a lot of little things that the Buckeyes can still get better at.
  • Day said the Buckeyes need to make sure they address any issues they have even though it hasn't cost them a game yet.
  • On how high school coaches might feel about this week's game being on Friday: "I'm sure they don't appreciate it, but that's out of our hands, out of our control. Not much we can do about it." Day said he doesn't spend much time thinking about whether college football games should be played on Friday night because it's out of his control.
  • Day said the Buckeyes are competing with some of the top academic schools year in and year out for some of the top student-athletes in the country, so it's important for Ohio State to be great in the classroom too, not just on the football field. Day said that the closer people get to Ohio State, the more they understand what the university is all about and what OSU can offer academically and as a campus.
  • Day said Northwestern's offense under former coach Randy Walker was on the cutting edge of spread offenses before they became commonplace throughout college football.
  • Day said it's hard for backup quarterbacks Chris Chugunov and Gunnar Hoak to prepare like starters because it can feel like starting is "miles away" even though it's only one play away, but he thought the bye week was a good opportunity for them to get some more reps.
  • Demario McCall was not available against Michigan State due to an injury that came up in pregame. He hopes to have McCall back this week. Day said McCall has been dealing with nagging injuries, but has had opportunities in the return game and will continue to get those opportunities.
  • On Jaelen Gill, Day said Gill still needs to work his way up the depth chart to earn more playing time.
  • Will there continue to be an H-back in the future of Ohio State's offense? Day said the Buckeyes are looking to recruit the best players they possibly can, and will build their offense around those players. This year, the Buckeyes haven't used the H-back as much because they've used more 12 personnel with their depth at tight end.
  • Day said he has had conversations with director of player personnel Mark Pantoni about how freshmen are playing more than ever now in college football.
  • Day said Cameron Brown, who is currently the top backup at cornerback, has had a "tremendous amount of growth ... He's matured into a really good young man." Said Brown has done a good job both on and off the field of taking care of his business.
  • Day said he watched Saturday's Wisconsin-Michigan State game on TV. He enjoyed having a day off on Saturday to watch some other college football games.
  • On the transfer portal: "We always monitor it ... The minute somebody goes in, we do our research." He said the Buckeyes would prefer to fill their open roster spots with high school players, but they're always looking to see if there are players on the transfer market who could be fits.
  • Day on how much of the offense was given to Justin Fields in the first six weeks: "He was working with just about all of it. He's learning it more and more ... We've kind of thrown the whole thing at him and he's been able to handle it."
  • Day said the ideal number is still to have four scholarship quarterbacks. "Unfortunately, that's hard right now. I've come to grips with that. We're going to keep working on getting four ... but also knowing that, in today's day and age, especially the way that we develop quarterbacks here, a lot of guys are going to feel like they can go somewhere else and play."
  • On Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: "Pat's as good of a coach as there is in the country."
  • On Northwestern's defense: "It's hard to find a yard against them."
  • Day said he thinks the interior offensive linemen Jonah Jackson, Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis have done a great job this season, but this week will be another tough test.
  • On allowing less big plays this year: "I think we've done a good job teaching where everybody fits on the defense."
  • Day said a loss like Georgia's loss to South Carolina "gets your attention" and serves as a reminder of how fragile success in college football can be.

Jeff Hafley:

  • Hafley said there is a lot that goes into Shaun Wade's slot cornerback position, but anybody who plays that position has to be to do all those things. "I think it helps that Shaun is really athletic ... and he works really hard at it."
  • On Josh Proctor: "I think Josh has made really good improvement ... he understands the scheme, he's worked really hard."
  • Hafley said the Buckeyes are preparing for both Northwestern quarterbacks, Hunter Johnson and Aidan Smith, after Smith started against Nebraska while Johnson was sidelined by an injury.
  • On Cameron Brown: "I think Cam's a guy that worked really hard ... He might have improved the most of all the guys from when we got here until now." Hafley isn't surprised that Brown played well filling in for Damon Arnette against Michigan State because of how well Brown has practiced.
  • Hafley said he has had conversations with Wade about potentially playing outside and that could still happen this year even though Wade has played only at slot cornerback so far this season. 
  • Hafley said he has not had conversations with Wade about what his role would be if he decides to stay in school instead of entering the NFL draft next year, because their focus is just on getting better and this season right now. Those conversations will come at the end of the season.
  • Hafley said it is challenging to go up against Justin Fields in practice because of how well he both throws and runs the ball. "That's hard to defend."
  • Hafley on the defensive backs Ohio State has committed for next year: "I feel good about them now. We'll see when they get there ... I don't think we would have recruited those guys unless we thought they could be special."
  • On the team's overall progress through six games: "The process has to get better. The results, yeah, they've been good far. But we have to do the little things to make sure those big things happen."

Jordan Fuller:

  • "Mostly just the whole vibe as a team has been great." He says the team has had fun playing football this year, which has helped validate his decision to return for this season.
  • "Coming to Ohio State, I wanted to leave it in a better place than when I came." He mentions mentoring younger players, such as Josh Proctor.
  • He says that "during the season you kind of get caught up in the week to week." He was able to get his body feeling fresher.
  • On Cameron Brown: "He's always been just a great athlete. A freak, basically."
  • Fuller says tackling and pursuit have improved this season, leading to fewer chunk plays allowed.
  • On Shaun Wade: "Just a lot of versatility. Obviously he can cover great, but he's also really smart." He says Wade is "constantly" calling out plays before they happen.
  • He says Shaun Wade can play every position in the secondary: "Shoot, my position I bet he'd excel at."
  • "I can feel a little bored at times, everybody making plays."

Josh Myers:

  • Myers says when he was a kid, his dad taught him how to be a tough, mean player on the field and nice off the field.
  • Has his transition to starter been seamless? "No. Not at first, for sure." He says not winning the starting spot last year made him upset and angry because he wanted it so badly. However, he says he doesn't believe he was ready for it.
  • Myers says fall camp was "huge" for developing offensive line chemistry. He says the offensive line is constantly "doing stuff together."
  • How much more confident and comfortable is he now versus the first week? "Significantly."
  • Myers says he had to accept it's not always going to be perfect, which has helped him develop as a player.
  • On Harry Miller: "He's been super consistent, which as a freshman is really hard to do." On the mental aspect of Miller's game: "Stuff he isn't supposed to do, he's doing.
  • Does anybody on the offensive line do an impression of Greg Studrawa? "No. Never."

Jonathon Cooper:

  • Cooper said the Buckeyes defense came into the year with "something to prove," and they're still playing with that chip on their shoulder.
  • Cooper said his ankle injury is still lingering, but after the bye week, he's "feeling a lot better, and feeling like I can finally get close to 100 percent."
  • Cooper said he believes Ohio State's defense has still only scratched the surface of how good it can be this year.
  • On Zach Harrison: "He works really hard and he takes coaching really well." Cooper said he didn't expect "anything less" from Harrison than how the true freshman defensive end has performed so far.
  • "Even though everybody sees we're playing really well right now, we watch the film and we realize that there's still a lot of things that we could get better at, and the coaches point those things out for us ... Even though we're playing at a high level, we still have a lot of things that we can work on to even become a better team."
  • Cooper said he thinks the players lead the way in making sure they stay focused every day and continue to feel like they have something to prove every day.
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