Presser Bullets: Ryan Day, Greg Mattison and Others Look Ahead to Ohio State's Big Game Against Wisconsin After Blowout Win Against Northwestern

By Dan Hope on October 22, 2019 at 12:39 pm
Ryan Day

Coming off a 52-3 win over Northwestern and going into their biggest game of the season to date against Wisconsin on Saturday (Noon, Fox), Ohio State coach Ryan Day and several other Buckeyes representatives met with the media on Tuesday to review Friday's win over the Wildcats, preview this week's contest and discuss the team's latest developments.

Day was joined at Tuesday's press conference by co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, wide receiver Chris Olave, nose tackle Tommy Togiai and linebacker Tuf Borland, and you can see updates from each of their question-and-answer sessions below.

Ryan Day:

  • On what he's liked best about the team this season: "The chemistry, the leadership, the buy-in ... that part's been great."
  • Day said Baron Browning missed Friday's game due to an injury and he's "working through it," but "he's looking good right now."
  • On this week's game against Wisconsin: "They got great players on both sides of the ball, NFL players ... This has got to be our best game of the year. It's going to be our biggest challenge on both sides of the ball."
  • Day said Wisconsin pass-rusher Zack Baun "does a great job in one-on-one situations" and "the secondary is very talented as well," which forces teams to hold onto the ball longer than they'd like and allows the Badgers to rack up sacks.
  • On the amount of sacks the Buckeyes have given up, Day said there have been some lapses in protection but also that they have had some more sacks than they could have because Fields tries to keeps plays alive. They'll live with that, though, because of the plays he's able to create under pressure, like his 3rd-and-long completion to K.J. Hill on Friday when he avoided sacks from two defenders before completing a 20-yard pass.
  • Day said true freshman offensive tackle Dawand Jones will probably play more than four games and not redshirt this year because of how talented he is.
  • On fellow true freshmen Cade Stover and Steele Chambers, who have also played three games this year, Day said the Buckeyes will evaluate and determine whether they can help the team this year, but they don't want to play them just to do so if they don't feel they need to.
  • On Thayer Munford playing through injury in the second quarter of Friday's game: "It was gritty. It was tough. It shows how much he cares about his teammates."
  • Day said the Buckeyes can't spend much time worrying about what this game means or doesn't mean, just on what they need to do to get a win this week.
  • Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan "has done a really excellent job of managing that offense," Day said. He said Coan and Jonathan Taylor are the guys who get the Badgers' offense going.
  • Day said he knew Justin Fields' high school coach for a long time and by the time Fields entered the transfer portal, Ohio State already had a pretty good idea of what Fields could bring to the program.
  • On getting to know Ohio State's administration and boosters: "The people around here are great. I love some of the people that we deal with here."
  • On this week's game against Wisconsin: "These guys are physical. We're going to have to bring it in every single way ... You cannot let one get away, but this one's going to be as hard as it gets." Day said he believes the Badgers will have "something to prove" coming off their loss to Illinois last week.
  • Day said Mike Yurcich brings "big time" value to Ohio State's offensive game planning. "He's always got great ideas."
  • Day acknowledges there hasn't been any big point of adversity Ohio State has had to overcome this year, but said there are always things that come up week-to-week that they have to work through.
  • Day said he does view this game as a "benchmark" to see how good Ohio State's offense really is because the Buckeyes are going up against the nation's top-ranked defense.
  • Day said his wife said, "Tough first quarter," after Ohio State's win against Northwestern. He said he looked at the stats and saw the Buckeyes had scored a touchdown four minutes into the game. "The standard's pretty high around here."
  • Day said the Buckeyes have confidence that they can move the ball going into any game, because they believe they are one of the best offenses in the country, but that's not to downplay how good Wisconsin's defense is.
  • On Nicholas Petit-Frere's performance against Northwestern: "He didn't have a perfect game. He didn't grade a champion. But he competed the best he could ... it's good to see Nick step up."
  • Day said it will be crucial for the Buckeyes' offense to stay on schedule against Wisconsin.
  • On J.K. Dobbins: "He's very competitive, and I'm proud of the way he's prepared."
  • "The bigger the game, the more the emphasis on the plan to win." Said the Buckeyes have to play great defense, avoid turnovers, execute in the red zone and perform well in the kicking game.
  • Asked about how he would handle losing his first game whenever that happens, Day looked down and shook his head before answering. He said he expects to take losing harder as a head coach than he did as an assistant coach, so he's trying to avoid it as long as he can.
  • "The expectations here are as high as they can be."
  • Day said he thinks Fields has done a good job of reading coverages and making decisions, the receivers have done a good job spacing out their routes to get open and the pass protection has allowed them to make plays.
  • Day said arm strength is really more about footwork than how physically strong your arm is, and Fields does an excellent job of timing up his footwork to deliver the ball downfield.
  • Why is Jonathan Taylor good? "Why isn't he good?" Day listed off a number of positive traits that Taylor has. "He's kind of an all-purpose back."
  • Day said he "didn't have a lot of expectations" for Master Teague going into the season, but said Teague provides a good change of pace and has done a good job of lowering his pads and running hard when he gets into the game.

Greg Mattison:

  • A Wisconsin native, Mattison said he was "born and raised watching the Badgers."
  • On Jack Coan: "He gets better every week. He's a very talented quarterback, and a person that we're going to have to definitely deal with."
  • Mattison said Day is consistent about handling things the same way every day. Asked how Day has evolved, Mattison replied, "I don't know how he's evolved. He's just good. Really good."
  • "Baron Browning's an outstanding athlete. He's very, very strong. ... He plays extremely hard. He does what a very good linebacker is expected to do. He's a very big part of our defense." That said, Mattison said he did not think Browning's absence was the reason for some of the early struggles that Ohio State had in run defense against Northwestern.
  • "The backbone of any great defense is stopping the run, and our kids have really done a great job of that."
  • Mattison said Wisconsin has run the ball and executed the play-action passing game effectively all year. "Any time the team is able to run the ball with some success, that opens up the play-action game." Mattison said the Buckeyes can't just load up to stop the run on Saturday, because that will open up the passing game for the Badgers.
  • On Chase Young: "You just see him every day get better and better, and with that comes confidence, and with that comes belief in what we're asking him to do."
  • On the second-team defense's performance late in games: "The guys that have gone in have treated it like it's 0-0." Mattison said the Buckeyes were as proud of the way the young players performed as much as anything in Friday's game.
  • On Josh Proctor, Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint all getting in the game as bullets over Brendon White in the first half of Friday's game, Mattison said "that's all about packages" and putting the guys on the field who they believe are the best players for specific situations. Mattison pointed out, for example, that White played more snaps than Wint even though Wint got in the game first.
  • Mattison said there is "great excitement" inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for this week's game.
  • Mattison said Tommy Togiai "practices extremely hard every snap."
  • On Jonathan Taylor, Mattison pointed out that Taylor ran a 10.4-second 100-meter dash in high school and has great speed in the open field, while he is also physical and has great balance. "You don't get 2,000 yards in the league that we play in, without being an outstanding running back."

Tommy Togiai:

  • Togiai says he thinks Saturday's game will come down to the front seven.
  • On Wisconsin: "I think probably everyone wanted them to come in undefeated." He says that doesn't change preparation.
  • He says he got 36 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press during the summer.
  • "I think always just growing up, my dad was big on weights." He says that continued when he entered high school and now college.
  • Togiai says Larry Johnson wants him to "try to wreck the line of scrimmage" and create disruptions in the backfield.
  • He says running to the ball has been a key to the season, which has been stuck in every defensive player's mind.
  • Togiai says Chase Young has stepped up into a leadership role this year. 
  • He says everybody was "really excited" to see Dawand Jones in the game. 
  • What's it like going against Jones in practice? "He's heavy."
  • Togiai says this will be a "big test" for the front of Ohio State's defense.

Tuf Borland:

  • He says playing behind an "awesome" defensive line aids the linebackers.
  • Borland says he thinks the cornerbacks and defensive backs can "line up with anyone in the country."
  • "I think every week, especially this week, is a week to come out and prove what you can do." 
  • He says Jonathan Taylor was "kind of a first- and second-down guy" when Ohio State faced him two years ago. Now, he's a three-down back.
  • "We're going to get a team that's angry this week." He says Wisconsin is "the same team" even after losing.
  • Borland says Ohio State running to the ball is the biggest difference in limiting the big plays.
  • On facing Wisconsin's end-zone package: "If they get into it, they get into it. We're going to line up with big against big and try to keep them out of the end zone."
  • "Our thing is there's always something to improve on, get better, keep enhancing."
  • He says Taylor's patience stands out. "He ends up finding that crease."

Chris Olave:

  • He says wide receivers "try to take that frustration out" in special teams and in blocking when the ball doesn't come your way.
  • On Day: "I believe he's the same guy." He says he hasn't changed as offensive coordinator.
  • He says Day didn't try to force Olave to go to Ohio State. He wanted him to take his visits.
  • On Justin Fields' scrambling: "It's really good for us receivers. He likes to keep plays alive with his feet."
  • Olave says Fields "isn't really a talker," so he kept his head down and "gained his respect from the team."
  • He says in the first couple days of spring practice, he saw Fields not missing a pass.
  • On his zero-catch game against Michigan State: "I think that was one of my worst games, in my opinion."
  • "We believe we have the best offense, and we're going against the best defense."
  •  Olave says Justin Fields is the kind of quarterback where "it feels like every pass is perfect."
  • On the change in his life as an Ohio State receiver: "Definitely a lot more people know who I am." He says he gets more people asking for photos when he's going to class.
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