Just over a week before Ohio State's season-opener against Nebraska, Ryan Day continues to get his team ready for the season.
During his weekly radio show on 97.1 The Fan, Day spoke a little about Ohio State's preparation for the upcoming season, including how he thinks the offense could even improve this year, how the team is protecting itself from positive COVID-19 tests, some contingency plans in case there is a positive test, and more.
Day was also joined by special teams coordinator and safeties coach Matt Barnes for the final portion of the show.
Here are some highlights.
On physicality in practice
- "We had a really physical Tuesday and Wednesday. It was one of those things where, as we get closer, you have to figure out how tough your team is."
- "Really pleased with the last couple days in terms of physicality."
- Day said they've done a significant number of tackling drills, working on pursuit angles and "thudding up" but said they have done some live tackling as well.
- "You're never quite sure until you're in a game where you're at," but Day thinks "We're in a pretty good place.
- Day said you really find out how conditioned you are during the first game with tempo.
On protecting themselves from the virus
- "We talk about it every day."
- Day said his team treats each person they come in contact with outside the program as if they have the virus.
- "There's a lot of sacrifices that have to be made."
- "We can't get tired of doing this."
On the medical staff
- "I can't say enough about our medical staff here."
- Day said the testing has run very smoothly every morning.
- "Better than expected."
On the right tackle position
- "They've both shown great promise for this season. I think they'll both play."
- Day said the difference is Nicholas Petit-Frere has more time in the program.
- "Paris has got a bright future ahead of him."
On Dawand Jones
- "Dawand Jones has really done a good job this preseason."
- Day said Dawand Jones is comfortable in the program and knows the language and terminology.
- "He certainly has taken pride in his work."
- Called him "a pleasant surprise."
On Jonathon Cooper's No. 0 number
- Day said he talked with Mickey Marotti, Ryan Stamper and Quinn Temple about it.
- Day said when they realized No. 0 was actually a Block "O," they decided it needed to be earned.
- "Wait a minute now, we can't just give that out to anybody. That has to be earned."
- Day said Cooper was the perfect player to wear it for the first time. "Well deserved, and I think he's really fired up to have that."
- "It's cool to add a new tradition here," Day said, noting that there are so many traditions, it's cool to start one that he hopes is around for a long time.
On calling plays
- Day said an offense having tendencies is a sign of a good offense.
- Day said he likes to set up plays and then counter off of them, he's not just calling plays and hoping that they work.
- "When you're just running plays and not setting anything up, that's when you can get in trouble against a good defense."
On Justin Fields
- Day said Justin Fields has been very motivated since the offseason.
- "Any time you can come back and you have some games under your belt from last season, it really makes a difference."
- Day said experience gives a quarterback confidence.
How do you improve when last year's offense was so good?
- "The first thing we have to do is we have to take care of the football."
- "The second thing is, we have to play with great pad level."
- "I think the big plays are going to come."
- "If we do those things right there, I think the numbers are going to take care of themselves."
On young receivers blocking
- "They have to."
- Day said he realizes that's not something you do at 7-on-7 camps or really in high school, but you have to learn to do it if you want to see the field at Ohio State.
- "That's something you have to do at Ohio State."
On players earning their stripes on special teams
- "If you're not playing on special teams, then you're not playing in the game."
- "For the guys who want to know why they're not playing more snaps but they're not playing on special teams, I don't really know what to say."
- Day said if guys are starting on two special teams, "then you deserve a chance to play."
On the "EQUALITY" decal on the helmets
- "It's really up to the team. It's up to our guys, it's up to the leadership group."
- "I'm here to support those guys, I always have been."
- Day said if it's something they feel strongly about "Then that's what we're going to do."
On the linebacker depth
- "The linebacker position is a position of strength for us."
- Between Tuf Borland, Pete Werner, Barron Browning and Justin Hilliard, they have lots of experience at that position.
- Day called the linebackers the strength of the defense.
On contingency plans, if a coach tests positive
- "We have certain things that we've talked about, contingency plans in place for everybody across the board."
- Day said the good news is, they can still communicate via Zoom regardless
- "If something were to happen, we can still function."
- "It's certainly a challenge, as we're seeing."
On when recruits can return to campus
- Day said he doesn't know when they'll be allowed to bring players back on campus.
- Day said they've been doing "virtual visits" for recruits on Zoom in the meantime.
- "I give the recruits and the families a lot of credit for understanding."
On if he would like The Game at noon
- "Ahhhh that's a noon game," Day said. "That's tradition."
- Day said there have been so many changes this year, they should keep this one at noon.
- Day also notes that a primetime game in December would be extremely cold.
On if Justin Fields runs a 4.3-second 40-yard dash
- "Oh, I don't know, I don't know where that came from."
- "Justin runs well, he looks good. I don't know what he would run if he ran one."
On returning punters and kickers
- "I think any time you've got a veteran group ... You feel good. You think you know what to expect when they get in a pressure situation."
- "We expect them to reach another level this year."
- Barnes said it definitely adds a level of security."
Difference between punt returner and kick returner
- Barnes said any time there's a kick, the priority is to catch the kick.
- Barnes said he looks for "quiet feet" in a punt returner, someone who doesn't move their feet around a lot when they're trying to field the punt.
- "Generally speaking, you're looking for more of a linear guy on kick return and more of a quick, lateral space guy on a punt return.
What do you look for in a long snapper
- "Really what we're looking for is consistency."
- "The big thing with Liam was he was so consistent."
- "The operation times are a little contingent on the situation."
- Barnes said there is plenty of ability from both long snappers on the roster.
On the safeties
- "We've got guys who have played in big games and have plenty of experience."
- "We're looking for consistency."
- "There's certainly no shortage of talent at the safety position."
- Barnes said he's eager to see how they play in pressure situations
- "Quite frankly, most of the snaps they've taken have been when the game is already in hand."
On Lathan Ransom and Kourt Williams
- "Blown away by both of them, truthfully."
- Barnes said he thinks all the young secondary players are going to be good players.
- Barnes said with the young talent at wide receiver, there's a chance for "iron to sharpen iron."
On Kerry Coombs
- Barnes said he thinks Kerry Coombs is one of the greatest DB coaches of all time.
- "It's hard to argue when you look at the success and the guys he's put in the NFL."