Preseason camp is almost over, and within the next few days, the Ohio State football team will shift its attention to preparing specifically for its season opener next week against Nebraska.
As he does every Monday night, Ohio State coach Ryan Day joined the Buckeye Roundtable show on the Ohio State IMG Sports Network to talk about where the Buckeyes are at now in their preparation for the upcoming season and other topics in the news, including Saturday's announcement that Jonathon Cooper would wear No. 0 this season in a new tradition honoring Buckeye great Bill Willis.
A bullet-point roundup of what he had to say:
- On the Block 0 jersey: “We thought long and hard about what that should mean for Ohio State ... We thought it should mean a little something more, thought long and hard about it, and thought someone should be given the award year in and year out.” Day said he thought Willis was the right person to honor with that tradition not only because of what he accomplished at Ohio State but also after, as he was one of the first players to break the color barrier in the NFL.
- On Cooper receiving that award: “A Columbus native, been through a lot of adversity, it was a great fit. Really cool moment, and I know he was really excited about it.”
- Day said Mickey Marotti and his strength and conditioning staff will have a “strong say” in determining who will receive the Block 0 jersey in future seasons. “They spend so much time with them in the weight room.” Day said it won't necessarily always be a senior, just whoever they believe is most deserving. “Certainly whoever that is, we really want to exemplify all the things that Bill Willis did and stood for, and the people of Ohio stand for, in terms of fight.”
- Day said jersey numbers are always a topic of conversation in recruiting and in the offseason. If a player wants a number that an upperclassman already has, they have to wait in line for it.
- On Saturday's scrimmage, which he called preseason game No. 2 at Ohio Stadium: “It went well. The weather was nice ... came out pretty good in terms of health ... I'll say this: I thought the guys took the next step ... I thought the pad level was pretty good overall. I think we're getting there.”
- “It's getting to the point now where we just want to play.”
- Day said the Buckeyes have already been in their game-week schedule for the past couple weeks, but they're starting to add more Nebraska-specific stuff into practices now, though they're also still doing a lot of "good-on-good" to develop their first-team players against one another.
- “The thing that we've always done here is we play depth when appropriate ... It's really not so much about the depth chart as much as it is the ability to play. If someone has earned the right to play in practice, and everybody in that unit believes in that person that they deserve a chance to play, then they'll play. If they're not quite ready yet, then we just keep working. It's a long season.” Day said the Buckeyes are still building up their depth at some positions.
- On the cornerbacks: “We have some young guys back there that Kerry's really doing a good job of bringing along. I think the more guys we can play, the better off for us ... that depth is being created. Still not there yet, but we're getting there, and the guys are working at it.”
- Day said “there's been a lot of teachable moments the last couple weeks“ of crazy things that have happened in college football and the NFL that they've been showing their players as examples of situations that could come up in games. He said the intentional grounding/fumble controversy that happened in the Auburn/Arkansas game was actually something they had talked about with the Buckeyes' quarterbacks last week.