Following the second off week of the season, Ohio State has begun preparation for its matchup with Maryland on Saturday, which kicks off a four-game stretch to end the season.
Ryan Day held his weekly press conference on Tuesday, and passing game coordinator Mike Yurcich, quarterback Justin Fields and defensive tackle Jashon Cornell also spoke with reporters. Here's a bullet-point rundown from each interview.
- On Matt Barnes, who coached at Maryland last year: "He did an unbelievable job in a tough spot last year." Day says it's a "whole new crew" over there, referring to the coaching staff, so Barnes was limited in his ability to scout them. He says he helped a bit with his knowledge of their personnel.
- Day says he began learning about Justin Fields' toughness throughout the year by seeing him taking hits and making plays through contact.
- Day says he wants to have the bedrock of recruiting in Ohio, but they look nationally because "the globe has gotten smaller every year based on the internet, computers, travel." He says there are "long conversations" about whether or not to recruit long distances, including Hawaii where they just offered three-star quarterback Jayden de Laura.
- He says the Maryland game last year was big for Dwayne Haskins in regard to him as a runner. On the 52-51 win versus the Terrapins: "I remember it being crazy, that's for sure." He says he remembers the fourth-down conversion pass from Haskins to Rashod Berry. He thought that the last team to have the ball would win.
- Day says many of the contributors on defense are a year older, which has aided their growth.
- On Maryland: "They're dangerous. They've got athletes. They're well-coached."
- On whether the defense has improved due to a simplification by the coaching staff: "I think there's a lot that goes into it. I don't think it's as simple as that." He says a lot of the improvement is due to growth from the defensive players.
- On the impending College Football Playoff rankings getting released: "I think it's for the fans. It's doesn't mean anything for us because if we lose this weekend, we're not going to be in the top four. That's for sure." He says the only thing that matters is where they're ranked to end the year.
- Day says "crazy things can happen" in November, meaning they have to remain focused on what's gotten them to this point.
- He says that in the team meeting, he said, "Congratulations, you're relevant in November." He said that doesn't mean the team should pay attention to the playoff rankings release.
- He says last weekend's performance from Maryland was one of the best of the season.
- Day says that if a team wins its conference, it deserves an automatic berth into a playoff.
- On the need to keep players fresh: "I think that guys need to play."
- On whether he takes statistics into account in games, such as getting a player to 200 rushing yards when they have 199 yards: "Rarely will that be something that we take into consideration."
- Day says the goal is to get players ready for game action as soon as possible.
- He says that it's easier for a head coach to recruit a position that he used to coach because you're going into "It's one thing to say something. It's another to show what you've done."
- Day says Damon Arnette tells people in the football facility that the best decision he made was to come back to school. "It's a success story, one of many here at Ohio State." He says the success is "all well deserved."
- On Keandre Jones, a former Buckeye now playing for Maryland: "Nothing but respect for he and his family."
- On whether Ohio State's defense is motivated to face Maryland after allowing 51 points to Maryland: "I think so. I think they know how dangerous the running game is."
- Day on Joe Burrow: "I've enjoyed watching Joe on TV but even watching his film."
- He says it's important for coaches to coach execution rather than results. "We have to hold them to that standard, and that's really good coaching and really good leadership."
- Day says having a run-pass balance is important, even last week when it was raining.
- Yurcich says there has been "a lot of growth" from Justin Fields between when he arrived and now. He thinks Ohio State has established the line of scrimmage "very well," which helps the skill players and the quarterback. "I think our ability to run the football, our ability to protect the passer as well as we have relates to the efficiency of our quarterback."
- Fields has done a "great job" playing within himself and the scheme, Yurcich says. He thinks Fields has been "unselfish" which has given him so much success.
- On preparing Fields for late-game moments: "I think you try to rep those in practice as much as you can. The pressures and the preparations, as they say."
- He says the attitude with Fields is that he's still a "work in progress." He says he doesn't reflect back and say, "look how much I learned."
- Can Fields get better? "A significant amount." He says when you watch practice tape and see mistakes that shouldn't be made, that's when you can see the room for improvement.
- Yurcich says that Fields' toughness has showed throughout the season.
- On the importance of getting backup quarterbacks game reps: "Very important."
- Yurcich says they need to improve on ball security, protecting the quarterback, knowing when to get rid of the football and not take unnecessary hits, staying within schemes and structure, disguising by formation, developing concepts and situational offense.
- He says the "plan to win is to play great defense."
- Yurcich says you see more guys in coverage in the Big 12 compared to more four-down fronts in the Big Ten. "In simplest terms, more coverages in the Big 12 than the Big Ten."
- He says that Fields can be successful in whatever he does, as seen when he golfed for the first time of his life this summer: "With a couple rounds, he may even be able to hold his own with a guy like me."
- Fields has strong hands and grip, Yurcich says, which helps him in the rain.
- Yurcich says it's important for the coaches to be on the same page in regard to coaching Fields.
- "The reason I play the sport is because it's fun. The only reason I play the game is because I like it and I enjoy it." He says he doesn't have to remind himself to have fun.
- Fields says Austin Mack gives the receiving corps and the offense "great leadership." He says Mack also has a "big body."
- On his interest in the College Football Playoff selection show: "I have zero interest." He says he doesn't care if Ohio State gets ranked 25th.
- Fields says the quarterbacks had a golf outing in the summer. "I wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." He says he thinks he was the best player on his team.
- He says Day was recently telling him and J.K. Dobbins that the offense hasn't "come close" to reaching its potential.
- He says he doesn't think the weather affects the offense much.
- He says the defense has aided with field position and momentum throughout the season. Does it take pressure off of him? "No, not really, because I don't feel like we go out there and say there's a set amount of points we need."
- Fields says he began to focus on making the smart play this year at Ohio State. He hadn't done that before at any of his stops.
- On whether last year's one-point win motivates Ohio State's: "It drives us a lot. Maryland's a great program, a great team." He says that last year the Terrapins game the Buckeyes their "best game," and now Ohio State has to give Maryland its "best game."
- He says he's not much of a vocal leader, but he tries to lead by example. He's already graduated, so he spends more time watching film.
- Cornell says the biggest difference between this year and previous years is that it's less stuff and there's more players having fun. "We're letting it loose." He says it's been the culture ever since winter workouts.
- He says Chase Young always says he wouldn't be able to do what he does without the interior linemen. As a former defensive end, he thinks other defensive ends don't give the defensive tackles enough credit sometimes, but Young does.
- "Chase can be anywhere on the field and be dangerous."
- Cornell says he's seen a "lot of elite players," so he can't outright say Young is the best he's played with.
- In the offseason, the linemen stressed fitting the run and understanding the concepts of the offense. He says he and Davon Hamilton watched lots of film in the offseason together.
- Cornell says the improvement on the defense is due to playing for each other without any arguing or getting down on each other. He thinks the brotherhood is "really different" this year. He says it's a "different feeling" in the locker room than in recent seasons. He thinks there were issues not being loose.
- On the new coaches: "I think they're letting us play. That's what we always wanted to do is let us play."