Just four days remain before Ohio State takes the field once again.
After an unexpected off week due to the cancellation of the Maryland game, the No. 3 Buckeyes have had more time than usual to get ready for a top-10 home showdown with No. 9 Indiana. Head coach Ryan Day and several players – Josh Myers, Josh Proctor, Thayer Munford and Tyler Friday – joined a Zoom call with the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss their preparation for Saturday's tilt.
A bullet-point rundown of what they had to say:
- He says the "hard part" is Indiana has a rhythm going and Ohio State didn't have the opportunity to do that. On the preparation: "Everything we did in practice was game rep. Tried to replicate it as best we could."
- On Zach Harrison: "Zach's best football's ahead of him." He says Harrison "did a nice job" last year and is "working hard" in practice. "I think as we keep rotating and he keeps getting into games more, he'll just keep getting better."
- Day says the "only positives" of not playing were the lack of COVID-19 exposure risk while traveling and lessened injury risk.
- On Michael Penix: "He's really playing mistake-free." Says he's "made some really big-time throws in tight spots." Mentions he's "playing almost perfectly."
- Indiana: "When you add that all up, that's why you have a team that's 4-0 coming in here."
- Day says he'd prefer a noon game over a night game without fans in the stands. "If it's going to be a packed house and electric environment, that's one thing." But he doesn't like sitting around all day to play in an empty stadium.
- He says his players "handled it really well" Continued: "They handled it very maturely."
- "Nobody feels bad for us, so we've got to move on."
- "Whether somebody's 0-4 or 4-0, we have to win every game here." With Indiana playing at this level, though, he says it's a "major challenge" and decreases Ohio State's margin for error.
- "The whole idea is to get the game into the fourth quarter and win the fourth quarter."
- Day says "we know who we are" since Ohio State has gone through "so much adversity this year." ... "We just haven't played a lot of football."
- On his thoughts about this being a top-10 matchup: "I think if you asked Indiana, they're not that surprised. I'm not that surprised." He says you could see the Hoosiers getting better last year.
- On if he has anxiety about not seeing whether there have been improvements since the last game: "There's a lot of anxiety, for sure."
- Day says he doesn't feel like this team is behind schedule compared to other conferences: "I think if we're able to play our schedule and play in the championship game and all that, we'll be right where we need to be."
- He says Indiana's offense does a good job of spreading teams out and getting yards up the middle. Also, the Hoosiers defense blitzes a lot and doesn't have many tendencies. "And then coaching. They're playing with great energy."
- On Chris Olave: "He's exceeded his expectations here so far." He says so many people had good things to say about Olave from his high school that it caught his attention.
- About Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers: "I think they've been good. I think they've been solid. When you look at the first three games, three different styles of defense. First off, in protection, they've done very well. ... The run game, too. They haven't been perfect, but they've been solid. They've been good."
- Day says most starting offensive linemen are in Year 3 or after. He says Harry Miller's ability to learn makes his potential so high.
- "I was only in the NFL for two years. The rest of the time was college. It was really a learning experience for me." He says the exposure allowed him to learn about the pro passing game and developing quarterbacks. "It was a great experience, but it was only really two years." He says most of the lessons he uses were learned in college.
- On going from the NFL where you're expected to lose a certain number of games to college where you're supposed to not lose: "That's tough. That's really tough." He calls Ohio State head coach the "best job in America."
- Day says Indiana has both recruited and developed well, which is why they're in this position.
- He says Justin Fields is continuing to get better at managing the game.
- On Fields' lack of interceptions: "I think he understands our plan to win and how important turnovers are."
- Munford says he had never put "Jr." on his back because his father wasn't a very good role model for him. But he says his mom told him he can't hide from his past. "It's just my name. I like my name. Even though he was not as good of a person as I thought he was about to be. But I respect what he has done for me."
- On Paris Johnson: "Knowing him personally, he's just a great kid." Says he loves everybody.
- "There's always things to work on. I know everybody outside this program thinks we are the best team in the nation, which we love, but we know how much more we can bring to the table."
- He says he's "20 times better" than last year. "I just feel more confident in my body as a whole." Says he's not at his peak.
- On Indiana: "I would describe their defense as very hard working." Says "they just bring it every time."
- Indiana's pass rush: "We'll be ready for it. We'll make sure that we'll be ready for it."
- Munford says they had to "take it on the chin" when the Maryland game got canceled and move on to Indiana.
- "Everybody on the offensive line is really close." ... "Everybody loves everybody."
- "We do have mixed feelings on the running game right now." He says it "could be prettier" and "better than it is" even though they're "moving the ball on the ground still."
- Says first down is "huge" for the Buckeyes.
- On Indiana: "I'm not really surprised to be honest with you guys." Says last year they had a lot of the tools to play well. "It seems like they had a quicker start this year and they're firing on all cylinders."
- The Hoosiers: "They're playing really hard."
- Myers says guys who get to Ohio State "find out really quickly" that everything you do before you arrive doesn't matter. "It's about where you're on the way to being."
- "Was I ready my second year? Maybe not so much."
- He says Harry Miller has "a lot" getting thrown at him.
- On chemistry with Miller: There have been times where we have not been quite so gelled together." Says that "we'll be just fine." A big part of it is relaxing, understanding what they've done up to this point and just doing their job.
- He says there should be a "pretty quick transition" to gain chemistry with a lineman beside him.
- Myers says he's "not a fan" of the cocked nose tackle, which Rutgers utilized.
- He says they've been blitzed 80-90 percent of the games so far.
- Myers says the third year as an offensive lineman is where many guys break out because of the combination of experience, reps and mental reps.
- He calls the defensive end rotation a "benefit and advantage for us."
- On Indiana: "I think their ability to play all four quarters really sticks out to me." Calls Penix a "great quarterback.
- If it's hard to get into a rhythm with a rotation: "I would just say you've got to be ready when you're number's called." He says Larry Johnson wants to keep everybody fresh throughout the season with a "long-term" perspective.
- He says he has felt at times that he'd like to stay out on the field for longer stretches but doesn't mind the rotation when he gets back to the sideline since he trusts his teammates.
- On defensive ends' performance against Rutgers: "We affected the way the quarterback threw the ball." He says sacks aren't the only things that matter.
- On Indiana being the biggest game of the year: "I definitely didn't see it coming. But as you can see, the whole Big Ten is unpredictable this year."
- His reaction to Ohio State not playing vs. Maryland: "I was hurt. I was hurt, man." Says they had to "roll with the punches."
- Friday says Nicholas Petit-Frere is a "completely different player" compared to him as a freshman.
- Finishing games better is a focus for the defense this weekend and moving forward.
- "Our culture is very consistent." He says the culture has "always been the same" and it's built on toughness and brotherhood. He says it's created by the players and emphasized by the coaches.
- He and Marcus Hooker: "I think on a day-to-day basis, we talk about the little details." He says they've broken down film and slowed the game down.
- Calls himself a "swiss army knife." He doesn't care how he's utilized and just wants to "get out there and make plays."
- Proctor says you can't take days off because you never know what will happen this year.
- He mentions tackling as an area of emphasis.
- Jeff Hafley made him practice with the cornerbacks at times last year, so he has spent time working on man-to-man coverage.
- What he brings to the game: "Playmaking ability. Energy."
- Proctor says every time he came to Ohio, he recognized the "brotherhood" and "home feeling." He says most places just care about football and don't talk about where you want to be after football.
- Says Penix has a "strong arm" and a "really talented receiving corps." ... “We know they're going to try to attack us downfield and they're going to challenge us this week, so we have to be ready.”
- Penix's reach for the end zone to beat Penn State showed his "will to win."
- Kerry Coombs told Proctor he wanted him to learn every spot in the secondary.