College football teams typically only have one bye week during the regular season, but thanks to the way the calendar fell this fall, Ohio State has two bye weeks this year.
Just three weeks after their first bye week of the regular season, the Buckeyes have their second bye week this week, fresh off their 38-7 win over Wisconsin, which improved them to 8-0 for the year.
Ohio State's media availability this week is abbreviated as a result, but Ohio State head coach Ryan Day still met with reporters at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for a question-and-answer session at the regular time of Tuesday at noon, and updates from what he had to say are below.
He fielded a multitude of questions about Chase Young's Heisman candidacy, the Buckeyes' strong start to the season, how they're performing on the recruiting trail and more.
- Day was excited about the way Jeff Okudah played on Saturday and said he impacts the team in many different areas.
- On Chase Young: "Having a player like Chase play the way he has clearly changes the game and makes everybody on that defense better." Day is pleased with the consistency that Young has shown this season, but said he has to keep that going, because now he has the "biggest bull's-eye he's ever had on his chest." It's not just talent that makes Young great, but also leadership, motor, work ethic, etc. "He's just got to continue to prepare the same this week, because if he does, he's going to continue to get better and he's going to help our whole defense."
- "It's always a team effort, whether you're doing well or you're struggling."
- On how well the team has started: "All it means is you have a lot more to lose if you let it get away from you ... We also know we got a bigger bull's-eye on our chest and week in and week out ... We expected to be in this situation, and now we have to act accordingly."
- Asked whether he's confident the Buckeyes will be able to make up ground in running back recruiting, Day said, "I think we will." Seeing what J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague have done this year, he thinks top running backs "would be foolish not to at least give Ohio State a long look."
- Day said the Buckeyes are always smart about managing reps for their players over the course of the season, especially now that they're getting into the homestretch of the season, but practicing hard is also a big reason why they've been successful. They're not going to be foolish about it, though.
- Being able to play the backups in just about every game this season has been beneficial because the Buckeyes feel like they know what they have in their second- and third-team players, Day said. If they hadn't had that much opportunity to play, they'd face the possibility of having to play guys in key situations who haven't played enough for the Buckeyes to know what they have.
- On the Heisman conversation, Day said it's an honor for Young, Dobbins and Justin Fields just that they're all in the conversation, but that's not their primary focus. If they continue to play the way they have, the accolades will come.
- Day said he isn't paying much attention to which teams are ranked where in the polls.
- Day said former Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin spoke to the team on Friday night before the Wisconsin game.
- On Young's leadership style: "Chase is very intense. He's very confident in what he does." Day said Dobbins is a little bit more of a leader by example, but when the game is on the line, you start to hear him more on the field and in the locker room.
- On Justin Hilliard being able to become a starter last week after all the injuries he's been through: "That shows you what kind of kid Justin Hilliard is."
- On the development of fifth-year senior defensive tackle Davon Hamilton: "I thought he had one of the best offseasons of anybody in the country. He really took a step this offseason in the weight room, with Coach J ... you could really start to see him coming. I'm really proud of the way he's playing."
- Day said the idea of playing Chase Young on offense "sounds fun," but that's not a risk they're going to take.
- Day said "it's huge" that Master Teague can come in and run out the clock so effectively with the second-team offense. Said the second-team offensive line has done a really good job getting movement and opening holes for Teague, as well.
- Day said he has not had conversations yet with Justin Hilliard about potentially applying for a medical sixth year, but if that's something he decides he wants to do after the season, they'll talk about it.
- Day said he told Justin Fields before Saturday's game that he was going to have to be able to run, and he stepped up to the challenge. Fields told Day he was hurting but "I'll be fine" after landing hard on his back after his third-quarter touchdown run, but he also told Day he was willing to run as needed.
- Day said he didn't want to play the "what if" game on if Young and Nick Bosa could have played a full season opposite one another last season, but "I respect both of those guys, and they're both very talented players."
- Day said he spent time recruiting around the state of Ohio on Monday and tried to get to as many schools as he could. Estimated that he made it to seven schools.
- On Garrett Wilson: "I think as the season's gone on, he's gotten better ... I think the second half of the season's going to be good for him." Day said Wilson has made a "strong move" to be the starting punt returner, though he's not committing to making a change there yet.
- Day said he believes the mindset of Heisman voters needs to change for Young or another defensive player to win the award. Said he doesn't believe Young is spending much time worrying about that right now, though, and Day is challenging him to continuing to play at that level because that's what needs to happen for him to have a chance to win the Heisman.
- Day said he believes the Buckeyes' recruiting right now is going "as good as it could possibly go."
- After Wisconsin cut Ohio State's lead to 10-7 early in the third quarter on Saturday, Day said he thought that was the first time the Buckeyes really had their backs up against the wall this season, and from there, they dominated the game.
- Day is confident that the Buckeyes will stay focused even as more and more people around the country are talking about how well they're playing. "If they're reading the hype ... then they're more foolish than I thought they would be."
- Day said every player has his own path, and Davon Hamilton's emergence as a fifth-year player this year is a good example of that. Terry McLaurin's emergence as a fifth-year senior last year was, as well.
Several Ohio State players are also set to meet with the media after Day's press conference on Tuesday, so stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for video and more updates from those interviews.