Thursday Bullet Points: How Justin Fields Has Improved, How Nicholas Petit-Frere Earned the Starting Spot, and How Game Day Will Be Different

By Kevin Harrish on October 22, 2020 at 12:47 pm

It's officially game week, and Ryan Day is readying his team to take on Nebraska.

Just two days ahead of the season opener, Day took to his final weekly media availabilities on Thursday afternoon, joining his weekly radio show on 97.1 The Fan and briefly meeting with the media to offer some final updates before his team begins its season against the Huskers.

Day was also joined by co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison for the final portion of his radio show.

Here are some of the highlights.

Ryan Day Radio Show

On game week
  • The guys are fired up. It's been a long time coming.
  • Day said the team needs to just stop with the expectations.
  • "You can't go win championships in the first game."
  • Day said they have to play the first snap, the first series, and take it one day at a time.
  • "There's a huge excitement about this thing, though."
On Justin Fields this year vs. last year
  • "He's got such a great body of work already under his belt."
  • "When you play a full season, it really helps you."
  • Day said Justin Fields' ability to adjust in-game is one of the biggest changes that comes with a second-year quarterback.
  • "Happy to see him out there with a chance to play."
On Justin Fields' leadership
  • "It's been excellent. It has."
  • Day said the whole team, in general, has "stuck together."
  • "I think, in the end, the best 'team' is going to win the championship."
On Shaun Wade
  • "We're all glad. That was a big deal."
  • "He's done a great job getting himself where he needs to be."
On the hardship this offseason
  • Day said he feels that all the trials of this season mean something.
  • "You're stronger in the end."
On the backup center spot
  • Day said they have some "flexibility" at that position.
  • Day mentioned that Harry Miller would probably slide over to center if need be.
On running back depth
  • "We've had more depth there now than since I've been here."
  • Day said Marcus Crowley is still "on the mend."
  • Day said they were worried about the depth at first, but now it's very deep.
  • Day mentions Xavier Johnson and Miyan Williams as adding depth.
On Trey Sermon compared to Master Teague
  • "They have a lot in common."
  • Day said it's good news that they've both played in games.
  • "Big, strong, powerful running backs. Good vision. Versatile."
On Xavier Johnson
  • Day mentions he's been very impressed with him.
  • "He's a great young man."
  • "We're very, very fortunate to have him on the team."
On doing rotating at the offensive line
  • "We try to do that some, for sure."
  • Day mentions it's a little harder to do with the offensive line due to rhythm.
  • "But we love to play depth, so we do it."
  • "We don't like to interrupt that, because there's a flow, for sure."
On Nicholas Petit-Frere
  • "The biggest thing is his weight. He's really put on the weight that he needed to."
  • "He worked really hard in the offseason to change his body."
  • Day said he's really matured into this third year.
  • "I've been very, very impressed with him and think he's on pace for a great season."
On Nebraska's offense
  • Day said the tight ends and the offensive line are the strength of their offense.
  • Day said he expects some downhill runs.
  • "That's a challenge. That's a challenge with some tempo."
On the backup quarterback battle
  • "I expect it to keep going throughout the season"
  • Day said if they had spring or a normal preseason, they might be further along.
  • "There's a lot that comes with being the quarterback at Ohio State," Day notes.
  • "Both of them are starting to learn what that really means, and they're improving every day."
On what he'll miss the most with no fans
  • "I'll miss running out of the tunnel, for sure."
  • Day said he'll also miss pregame Skull Session and singing Carmen with the student section.
  • "We'll still do that, but it just won't be the same."
On if players are spending extra time at the Woody
  • "I would say it's the safest" place on campus.
  • Day said the more time they can stay at the Woody, the better.
  • Day said guys spend most of their time at the Woody after getting tested.
  • Day said they won't let players use air mattresses.
On conversation with Scott Frost
  • "Scott and I had a lot of conversations."
  • "I think he was always advocating for a safe way for his guys to play, and so were we."
On Ohio State history
  • "Not that it matters in terms of playing this game, but it's good to know where you came from."
  • Day said that's why they have so much history in the WHAC.
  • "When you walk in the building, it's about being excellent. It's about being elite."
  • "That's why they come here. That's why players come here."

Greg Mattison

On excitement for the game
  • "You've had so much time and you've worked so hard..."
  • "You can't imagine what they've gone through and how proud of them we are."
  • Mattison said he's excited to finally see the work on the field.
On the pass rush
  • "I think we have a combination of people."
  • Mattison mentions that he doesn't think there are a lot of teams that have five defensive ends like Ohio State.
  • "I'm excited to watch them."
  • "I think we have some linebackers that can really run – linebackers that can help us in that respect."
On Tuf Borland's improvement
  • "Having seen him this year compared to last year, I think he's a totally different guy."
  • "Hilliard is the same way."
  • Mattison said it takes a long time to fully recover from an Achilles injury. He Borland is "really running well."
On the defensive staff
  • "It makes coming into work really, really fun every day."
  • "I'm so excited about Kerry working with us."
  • "It's really fun not to have to work against him," Mattison joked about his years working for Michigan."
  • "It's really great to come into work each day with these guys."
On the the secondary
  • "They played behind two first-rounders, three that are starting in the NFL. It's amazing."
  • "I think they really want to show everybody that they are the next group."

Ryan Day Lightning Round Press Conference

  • Day says you always want coaches in the press box during games who can recognize what’s going on in the front end and back end of the defense, which is why Greg Mattison and Matt Barnes will be up there. “Between (Mattison) and Kerry (Coombs), I think the communication will be really good.” He says he thinks it’ll be beneficial to have Coombs on the sideline for some of the younger players.
  • Sharing information between Big Ten schools gives them “peace of mind” with Nebraska coming to town, Day says.
  • Day has “strongly” recommended that family members try to keep their distance, even after games. “It’s just more exposure.” He’s asking the families to try to be vigilant. The players will be staying in a hotel together before games, too.
  • On Thayer Munford’s 2019 season: “He didn’t really have much of an offseason because of that back injury.” He felt Munford’s resilience and play was “pretty remarkable.” Because of the preparation this offseason, Day thinks Munford will be “a different player” this year.
  • The offseason has given coaches more time to self-reflect, he says. He says he hasn’t been staying in his house with his family.
  • “I think they’re doing well, but you don’t know until you get into it.” He says the players can’t try to win a national championship on Saturday and Justin Fields can’t try to win a Heisman Trophy on Saturday. 
  • The linebackers “seen things fast” and “communicate well.”
  • Day says wearing masks isn’t ideal because communication is so important, but the coaches will do their best to keep them on.
  • On if they have to make any changes to how calls are made during games: “The way that we operate bodes well for this environment.”
  • It’s “too early” to have either C.J. Stroud or Jack Miller ahead of the other, he says.
  • Antwuan Jackson “brings some veteran play to the table.” He says Jackson will have to “be a staple inside.”
  • On how Marcus Williamson ended camp: “He finished how we started, which is strong.” He says they’re expecting him to be a “big part” of the defense.
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