Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Gives First Comments On Ohio State's Future After Losing National Championship Game, Previews Offseason

By Colin Hass-Hill on January 22, 2021 at 10:20 am

Not since the night Ohio State lost the national championship game had head coach Ryan Day spoken publicly about his team. 

On Friday morning, two weeks after the 52-24 loss to Alabama, Day hopped on a Zoom with local media to preview the offseason. He discussed Greg Mattison's retirement, the quarterback competition and more.

A bullet-point rundown of what Day had to say (with video coming soon):

Ryan Day

  • He starts by thanking everybody in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center: "From our medical personnel, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, everybody in the building. You can't just point one person out because you'd be slighting somebody." ... "Without all of those people, none of this happens."
  • Day announces Greg Mattison will be retiring: "Can't thank him enough for what he's done." ... "We're working on replacing Greg. It will not be easy."
  • Asked about bringing in any transfers: "I think when you look at our team right now, first off we have a great culture." If they're bringing a transfer in, they want to bring in culture fits. "Now more than ever, Mark Pantoni and his staff are looking to see what's out there." He says they're always looking to see whether or not they can upgrade in certain areas, but he doesn't see any significant holes.
  • Day says it's "really important" for everybody in the program to take a deep breath and get away from each other. "Guys are still recharging."
  • Mid-year enrollees have to quarantine for a week until they can get started with the program. His message to Australian punter Jesse Mirco: "It only get better from here."
  • "Once Feb. 1 hits, that's when we start to get back to work."
  • Day says he's "really proud" of his whole program for following the health protocols during the 2020 season. "We did not cut any corners."
  • He says Ohio State will look at all options in replacing Mattison. They're considering hiring somebody for Mattison's specific job or shifting coaches responsibilities around with the next assistant coach hire. "No, I'm not really set on this is what the role needs to be."
  • On having some of the veterans back in the fold: "It gives us a huge boost as we head into the spring."
  • Day says Ohio State's defensive structure "will evolve." They're having discussions on whether they want Mattison's replacement to be someone with expertise in their four-down, single-high safety base defense or somebody with other experience.
  • On Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson returning: "Really excited that Haskell and Antwuan are back." He says defensive tackle was an area of concern coming into the 2020 season, then Garrett broke out. Day says Garrett had COVID-19 early in the summer then got shot, so he didn't have an optimal offseason.
  • Day says this season was more difficult because there were interruptions and fewer games.
  • On the gap between Ohio State and Alabama: "The gap is a lot closer now than if we had not played a season. If Alabama had gone through this season and we had not played a season, the gap would have been really hard to catch."
  • On the quarterbacks: "I wish we were further along. I wish they got more game reps." Day says they'll have to find ways in the spring to give them as many "game-like situations" because they can't go into the first game without having an idea of what they have. "(It) may be a unique way of doing the spring." He says they'll look at a "different spring model." 
  • Day says Ohio State has been in communication with the NFL about setting up Ohio State's pro day and the logistics of it.
  • He says if you asked Pete Werner, Justin Hilliard and the linebackers he spent so much time with, they'd "talk for a while" about the relationships they built with Greg Mattison. He also worked with Jeff Hafley to alter the defensive scheme: "In one year, got that on the field functioning at a high level."
  • On CJ Stroud and Jack Miller: "They're both young. They're both learning the offense and figuring it out." ... "Now they're fighting to be the starter." He says they were able to see what Justin Fields was able to do this year. They both need to get stronger in the offseason, he says. "I don't think either of them are further along than the other."
  • Day says the early enrollees will begin Mickey Marotti's program on Feb. 1. "I think all these guys want to come in here and compete." He says the "hungry" players will find a way to get noticed. He says he's interested to see what kind of "football shape" they're in.
  • He has not heard any updates of when recruits will be allowed on campus next.
  • On if Ohio State will bring in any more recruits into the 2021 class: "Really don't have much. We're pretty full right now." ... "There might be one spot available."
  • On Jeremy Ruckert: "Ruck coming back is really important. I think his best football is ahead of him." He says they'll have to "create some depth" behind Ruckert with Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann having left.
  • Day says it's "really important" to have Olave back due to his attention to detail. He says his return will allow him to have "more of a voice." He calls wide receiver a "huge area" the Buckeyes will have to see development from.
  • He says his family stayed for a few days in Florida then a few days in New Hampshire before getting back to work.
  • On the quarterback competition: "Those guys are going to roll, and they'll get as many reps as they can." If somebody separates himself early, Day says, they'll get more reps. 
  • On Gene Smith as a potential candidate to become the Pac-12 commissioner: "Gene and I have had no conversations about that." ... "If anything like that ever happened, that would not be good." He says Smith's leadership has been "unwavering."
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