Thursday Bullet Points: Ryan Day Previews Penn State Game, Discusses Player Debuts Against Nebraska, and Talks COVID-19 Road Testing Procedures

By Kevin Harrish on October 29, 2020 at 12:58 pm

It's Penn State week, and Ryan Day's getting his team ready for one of the biggest games of the season.

Just two days ahead of the top-25 showdown, 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 taking on Penn State.

Day was also joined by wide receivers coach Brian Hartline for the final portion of his radio show.

Here are some of the highlights.

Ryan Day Radio Show

Ryan Day

Opening thoughts
  • "There's a lot to build on, for sure. A lot to learn from."
  • "You can really find out where your at going on the road to a place where it's really difficult to win."
On the lack of a crowd
  • "It was different. To say it wasn't would not be accurate."
  • "That place would have been rocking."
  • Day said he doesn't feel like he feels the momentum swing as much because there isn't a crowd.
  • At the end of the day, it's the environment that we have to play with.
  • "We just have to handle it better than our opponents."
  • Day said the team just has to bring its own energy.
On Kerry Coombs first game back
  • "He's got a lot of energy."
  • Day said Kerry Coombs made some adjustments in-game and "the guys took to it."
  • He notes this week is a greater challenge.
On Justin Fields' first game this season
  • Day credits the entire offense for Justin Fields' near-perfect game, but notes the Fields did look impressive.
  • "I thought the ball came out of his hand quicker."
  • "If he continues to build like that, he's got a chance for a good season."
On Nicholas Petit-Frere
  • "Good start, for sure."
  • Day said Petit-Frere did a great job transforming his body this offseason.
  • "It's good to see someone who put so much work in pay off in his first week."
  • Day said that he'll "have his hands full" against the Penn State defensive ends this week. "This will be a great challenge for him."
On the safeties
  • "I thought for the first game ... I thought they were solid."
  • Day notes that they did struggle at the beginning of the game, but made adjustments.
  • "We're going to have to avoid the big plays."
  • Day said this game is going to be a much bigger challenge.
  • "Every play matters in one of these games."
On QB sneaks on fourth down
  • "It's a huge help when you have big guys in front."
  • Day praised the offensive line for getting push on those fourth-down plays.
  • Day notes that Justin Fields does have a feel for doing those quarterback sneaks.
On Penn State defensive ends Shaka Toney and Jayson Oweh
  • "They're both quick. They're both fast and quick off the ball."
  • Day said they both attacked the edge last week.
  • "They're as good as we've seen."
  • Day notes that Justin Fields' ability to scramble helps.
  • "We've got to do a good job of protecting the quarterback."
  • "When he has time, he can really do some good things."
  • Day said he trusts Fields to create with his legs if he needs to.
On Indiana letting Penn State score at the end of the game
  • "That's a very, very specific situation, for sure."
  • "I think it was well done by Indiana."
  • "There are certainly times where I think that's appropriate."
  • Day credits them for being prepared in the moment.
On Haskell Garrett's play
  • "The fact that he was able to play the way he did in the first game is remarkable, based on where we were."
  • Day said that's a credit to him, but also credits the medical team, Mickey Marotti and Larry Johnson for helping get him ready to play both physically and mentally.
  • "Really a great story after a very tough and tragic event.
On Penn State's offense
  • "I think the big thing there is (Sean) Clifford really has some experience now."
  • "I think he runs the ball better than (you think) when you first look at him."
  • Day calls Clifford "sneaky athletic."
  • Day also said tight end Pat Freiermuth is one of the best tight ends in the country.
  • "Very capable backs, maybe they just don't have the depth that they once had."
  • Day said Penn State always has "very capable" running backs.
On the young wide receivers
  • "They flashed at times."
  • Day said there are still things they need to work on.
  • "We've got to block better on the perimeter. To beat Penn State, you've got to block."
  • "We've got to take care of the little things."
On Jaxon Smith-Njigba's catch
  • "We showed it, and the guys had a great time with that."
  • "It was a great play."
  • "Jaxon was just trying to make a routine play. Those things just come."
On the testing procedure on the road
  • Day said they won't do their testing until Saturday morning, since it's a road night game.
  • "It's kind of terrifying, actually," Day said, not knowing about the team depth until game day.
  • Day said the travel roster is limited to 74 players.
On Justin Fields' dual-threat ability
  • "He's a threat with the ball in his hands, running and passing."
  • Day said there aren't too many designed runs for Justin Fields, but they allow him to extend plays.
  • Day said his legs force teams to have to try to contain him.
  • "It makes everyone on the offensive side a little better."
On walk-on Chris Booker's emergence
  • "It goes to show you the heart of somebody can't be measured."
  • "He's turned into a really good football player."
  • "When someone's so hungry that they won't take 'no' for an answer..."
  • "No job has been too small."
  • Day said he does whatever the team needs.
On Jack Miller's athleticism
  • Day said Jack Miller is a great example of the athleticism they look for in a quarterback.
  • "The more athletic we can get them, the better."
  • Day notes that the ability to throw the ball is the primary trait they look for, however.
  • Day said both CJ Stroud and Jack Miller are an example of that.
On depth against Penn State
  • "This game, right here, it's going to take everything we've got."
  • "All hands on deck."
On the primetime game
  • "This is why you come to Ohio State," Day said. "Games like this."
  • "You're never going to get this game back."
  • "They might be talking about this game for a long time."
On the players' sacrifices
  • Day said Ohio State asks the players to stay in their apartments when not at the Woody Hayes Atheltic Center to protect themselves from being exposed to COVID-19.
  • Day said the players don't do much of anything besides stay home and go to the facilities, and acknowledges that it can get lonely.
  • Day said the families coming into town to watch the game but not being able to spend time with their sons is "harder than people realize."

Brian Hartline

Thoughts on the first game
  • "At the end of the day, we have to make sure that we build from game one to game two."
  • "There are some things that we definitely need to get cleaned up," But he was happy to get the win.
On the depth at wide receiver
  • "There are a lot of guys doing a lot of good things."
  • Hartline said the conference-only schedule doesn't really allow them the chance to evaluate players early in the season the way they normally would.
  • Hartline said as the year progresses, more guys will emerge.
On Penn State's defensive backs
  • "They're very well skilled."
  • "You try to look for ways to get them out of position, and it rarely shows up."
  • "Very coachable players, great coaching staff."
  • "They do a really good job, and every year they pride themselves on toughness."
  • "We know what we're up against on offense."
On Jameson Williams
  • "He's grown a lot."
  • "His improvements over the past year have been great."
  • Hartline notes that Williams needs to continue to grow.
  • "I think he's done a great job not only on the field but off the field."
  • Hartline said there are more guys than just him who've done a great job this offseason.
On Justin Fields
  • "I think the arm talent is pretty well documented."
  • Hartline said Fields' communication with the receivers has been his biggest area of growth."
  • Developing that communication, especially with limited time in the offseason, has been huge for the team. 

Ryan Day's Thursday Press Conference

  • “It happens quickly around here. Young players have to make their impact early on. This is kind of initiation by fire” this year.
  • Day on the importance of getting a top-level quarterback every recruiting class: "That’s where it starts. At Ohio State, if you come to be a quarterback, you’re the shortstop of the New York Yankees.”
  • Day says they had to make sure the numbers on the travel roster were balanced and had to “make some really hard decisions.” He says they met on the travel roster this morning and “have a pretty good feel for it.”
  • He says they want to have “spare” players. In other words, they need to have reserves at every position due to COVID-19.
  • He says they’ve been preaching versatility in a big way.
  • On Nicholas Petit-Frere’s season debut: “He graded out a champion, but this is a bigger challenge this week.” He says Penn State has the most talented defensive ends Ohio State has “seen in a while.”
  • He says they’re driving some personnel members to Penn State instead of flying and trying to keep people away from each other on the plane. They had to “de-densify” the travel party.
  • Not shockingly, Day defers any final call on Chris Olave's status until tomorrow. But... "He's had a good, strong week of practice."
  • Day says it’s “really hard” on recruits and their families right now not to be able to visit schools.
  • “It’s something that we worry about every day. Feel awful for Paul (Chryst) and his staff and his players.” He says he’s “very disappointed” Nebraska wasn’t able to play.
  • The Big Ten reportedly did not allow Nebraska to schedule a replacement game when the Wisconsin game fell apart due to COVID-19. Day: "I thought they should have had the opportunity to play" against somebody else.
  • He says Sean Clifford and Pat Freiermuth have a “good connection.” He thinks you have to put the right guys in the right position to be successful in that matchup.
  • Day says you have to be good at multi-tasking these days. “Trust that people are doing their jobs.” He says sometimes that’s hard because he likes being in control, but he hired people for a reason.
  • He says he was told “a little bit” about the Nebraska situation and doesn’t want to “speak on what-ifs.”... “But I also know there’s a team in Lincoln that wanted an opportunity to play and they’re not playing.”
  • He thinks peer recruiting is “huge” right now. He says Mark Pantoni and his staff have done a great job during this time.
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