Coming off a 73-14 blowout win over Maryland and ahead of the second-to-last regular-season road game of the year at Rutgers, Ohio State coach Ryan Day held his typical game-week press conference on Tuesday at noon.
Day didn't have much new to say about the status of suspended defensive end Chase Young and whether Ohio State expects him back this week, but he did answer many other questions about the Buckeyes.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, backup quarterback Chris Chugunov, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, cornerback Jeff Okudah and center Josh Myers are also set to meet with the media today, and we'll have updates from each of them below following their question-and-answer sessions.
- Day did not have an update on Chase Young's status, other than to say that the process is ongoing. Young will practice this week and the Buckeyes are preparing as if he'll be able to play, but they don't know whether he actually will be reinstated this week.
- Day said Davon Hamilton has stepped up as a leader of the defensive line with Young and Jonathon Cooper out, and he's happy to see the way Hamilton is impacting games up front after how hard he's worked.
- On former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow, who is now leading the Heisman Trophy race at LSU: "Proud is definitely the word." Day is happy to see Burrow succeeding there, and also happy to have Justin Fields at Ohio State.
- "The one thing that I know that I love about this team is the chemistry and the maturity."
- Day said the Buckeyes have to maintain their discipline and focus, and the 13 penalties they had against Maryland were unacceptable.
- Day was happy with how Ohio State handled the adversity of losing Young against Maryland and "We know there's more adversity coming. We don't know when, we don't know where."
- Day said it is important for the Buckeyes to have "grinders" at the quarterback position.
- After the delay of game and sack-fumble on his first drive in the game, Chris Chugunov played well, Day thought. "He throws a good ball. He's got great touch. He's very intelligent ... He's come a long way ... He kind of changed his body in the offseason and put a lot of work in ... I think you can see him, when he is out there, he's pretty decisive in where he's throwing the ball." Day said the body of work that Chugunov has built up over the course of the season has made him feel comfortable with playing him if anything happens to Fields down the stretch.
- Former Ohio State quality control coach Bob Fraser knew Chugunov, a New Jersey native, when he was coaching at Rutgers, so he was able to speak to Chugunov's character when the Buckeyes recruited him to transfer to Ohio State last year.
- Day said the Buckeyes work on a lot of different plays in practice, and they have to feel comfortable with how they're executing a play in practice before they use it in a game.
- On Jonah Jackson's impact on Ohio State's offensive line: "There's just something about Jonah, to me, that's really helped that group." He thinks Jackson's decision to transfer from Rutgers to Ohio State has been a great match for both sides, as he's made the Buckeyes better and the Buckeyes have made him better.
- Asked if he wanted to respond to comments that Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown made last week that the Wolverines are already preparing for Ohio State and the Buckeyes "better be careful," Day did not.
- Day said he has known Rutgers interim head coach Nunzio Campanile "for a long time, and he's going to do a great job."
- “If we think we’re just going to show up in Piscataway and win the game, that’s not going to happen.”
- Day said the Buckeyes could continue to use Rashod Berry on both offense and defense. They'll plug him in where they think he can help them.
- On third-string quarterback Gunnar Hoak: "He's getting better. He's still learning the offense, but right now Chris is ahead of Gunnar." Chugunov is in his second year at Ohio State while Hoak is in his first, so Chugunov has had more time to learn the Ohio State offense and improve within it.
- Day isn't surprised by the success Jeff Hafley has had on the recruiting trail because he considers Hafley to be an "all-star" coach.
- He says he used to have a saying at Oklahoma: "As soon as you think you've got it, you're getting ready to get it."
- Ohio State isn't saving any plays or schemes for later in the season, Wilson says. He wants to avoid getting "too cute or too coy."
- Wilson says there's an art to keeping players engaged. "There's a lot of people that want that ball, but there's only one ball." He says the biggest test each week is to keep players "grounded" and ascending as the end of the season nears.
- On Garrett Wilson: "I think as a young guys, like a lot of those talented guys, I think it's easy." He says Wilson sometimes gets away with an imperfect release due to his talent. The next step, in Wilson's mind, is to get him to improve his work habits in practice: "To be great, you can't just rely on your talent."
- He says working hard is a "lost talent in our society."
- Wilson says Jonah Jackson grades about as well as anybody this week.
- On the offensive line: "It's a deep group. It's a talented group. They practice hard."
- He says Chugunov got "really comfortable" with passing concepts at West Virginia. "I kind of felt a year ago that I think he was trying to figure out how serious to approach, was he really in the mix." He says he told Chugunov in the summer that he thinks he gives Ohio State the best chance to win other than Fields.
- Wilson believes that younger players can get accustomed to college football easier than in the past due to the new redshirt rules.
- Wilson on Rashod Berry playing defense: "That had been talked about for, shoot, a year." He says he went to Larry Johnson last week to ask whether it's time for Berry to play both ways. He says Berry has had a "solid year" and is on track to graduate in December.
- "I actually like Tuesdays and Wednesday better than Saturdays."
- He says the best teams are the closest teams: "And I think this team's pretty tight."
- Wilson says Fields is "very, very smart." Urban Meyer used to tell coaches that you'd better come to the meetings prepared, and he's the reason why. He has the intelligence of player who coaches need to be prepared for, otherwise he'll tune them out.
- He says mid-zone is a play Ohio State looked at in the spring. Then, it "snowballed" and became a "very good" play for the team. "We just stumbled into it."
- Wilson believes Jackson was caught off guard by the number of teams that contacted him.
- He says Berry came to tight end because the Buckeyes had a "dire need" at the position. Because of injuries at defensive end, he's had an opportunity to play on defense. Wilson says he's not a true two-way player but rather a situational player.
- He says nothing specific stuck out when watching Rutgers film.
- On Chase Young: "I think he's done a great job of being a really great leader" to both the defense and the younger defensive ends. "Those young guys stepped up on Saturday."
- He says having a great defensive line goes "hand in hand" with the secondary.
- Okudah believes that these defensive tackles allows the linebackers to scrape and make plays more.
- "I think that we've done a really good job playing defense this year." He says that to this point, the defense has shown growth from last year.
- Okudah says he hasn't seen anybody with the ball skills of Garrett Wilson. He and Jeff Hafley have talked about how special Wilson will become. He says that a lot of what Wilson does comes naturally to him.
- On teams not throwing his way: "Selfishly, it's kind of frustrating." However, he realizes that it's due to teams scheming not to test him, and he has to focus on technique.
- On Davon Hamilton: "I think what's stood out to me is I think his leadership." He says he never heard Hamilton talk the first two years, and now he hears him more often, meaning he has more confidence.
- He says he's most excited to have a "large group" of family and friends in attendance. He says the number of family and friends keeps growing. He guesses there are 60-70 people asking for tickets, but many will end up buying tickets.
- Chugunov says he's always been "pretty confident" in his throwing ability. Was happy he got to "sling it around" on Saturday. "I'm here because I love throwing the football."
- He says he loves the game and loves throwing the football, which is why he's still playing.
- On arriving at Ohio State and getting in shape last summer: "I had been away from football for seven, eight months before I got here, and I had a hell of a time." He says he was skinny and has put on about 30 pounds since arriving.
- He says he came to Ohio State, planning to do whatever he could for the Buckeyes. "I'm just grateful for every opportunity I have to play."
- Chugunov says he's "so much more mentally prepared" after playing for Ohio State.
- On the deep pass to Garrett Wilson that called back and throwing while getting hit: "I think the pros outweigh the cons there."
- He says Justin Fields "makes really smart decisions."
- Chugunov says that his biggest challenge this time of year is staying warm on the sidelines.
- Hamilton said Young has "been exactly the same as he was before" even while he's doing with his suspension.
- Hamilton believes the biggest difference for him this year has been experience, because he knows what he's doing on the field better than he ever has before.
- On Zach Harrison: "I think the thing I like the most about him is he's willing to learn ... he's been really fun to be around. He really wants to learn, wants to be a part of the unit. Potential-wise? Sky's the limit for him."
- Hamilton clarified that the correct spelling of his name is DaVon, not Davon. He's been listed as Davon on Ohio State's roster.
- On being named a champion for every game this year, Hamilton said it was his goal coming into the season to be consistent, so he's placed an emphasis on that each week.
- Hamilton said he felt like it was his responsibility to be a leader all season, even when captains Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper are on the field, because even though he's not a captain, he's still always been a leader in the defensive line room because he's a fifth-year senior.
- Hamilton said he and Josh Myers both make it difficult on each other in practice, and he thinks they even each other out with their play.
- Hamilton described Chugunov as an "overall cool guy."
- "We do a lot of intermingling, especially on the offensive side of the ball."
- On DaVon Hamilton: "Davon is really good. Really, really good." He says he's so strong and powerful but also has quickness. "It's really, really hard to block," especially in pass protection.
- He says the offensive line is in the flow of it, with the weeks blending together.
- Myers says that early on that the offense was trying to figure out what it's supposed to be. By this point, they have an understanding.
- On who impressed him on Saturday: "I thought Gavin (Cupp) played really well."
- He says his favorite feeling in the world is having his guard come off a combo block, get to the next level and have a running back "zoom" past him.
- Myers says he thinks this weekend will be important for Jackson since he spent four years of his life at Rutgers. He says Jackson has gotten used to winning after his time with the Scarlet Knights.
- On the game versus Rutgers: "I think the biggest challenge is just focusing on us, like we do every week."
- On whether he cares about the College Football Playoff rankings: "All we're focused on is this game, winning this game and moving on from there."
- He says he's not certain why, but the offensive line just clicks.
- Myers says in practice that he and Justin Fields sometimes go back and forth about certain reads on plays. Who wins those? "He does. Every time."
- He says he and his five roommates have a "victory meal" every Monday. They had biscuits and gravy on Monday. Typically, they go through about 40 eggs.