Following Ohio State’s 35-28 loss to Oregon on Saturday, Ryan Day said he would have more to say about the Buckeyes’ defense after he had the opportunity to watch the film from the game. On Monday night, Day made his first public comments since his postgame press conference on 97.1 The Fan’s Buckeye Roundtable show.
While he wasn’t asked any pointed questions about what Ohio State will do to fix its defense – those questions should come at Day’s press conference on Tuesday at noon – he acknowledged “there’s a lot of learning lessons coming out of Saturday” for the Buckeyes, but also said they have to be careful not to overreact to what happened against the Ducks.
“You have to make sure that what you’re doing, you can execute at a high level,” Day said. “It’s one thing to install something, but you have to work through all of the issues that come with it, because there’s a lot of different things that you can be presented with when you install something. So we have to act and get some things changed, but we can’t overreact.”
Day gave Oregon’s coaches credit for their offensive game plan, saying they “did a nice job of putting some of our players in conflict” with the plays they called. It’s Ohio State’s job to be prepared for whatever an opposing offense might throw at it, though, and Day said he and his staff need to do a better job of reacting when their opponents run unexpected plays.
“We gotta do a better job of making adjustments when we get hit with those types of things,” Day said. “They have very good coaches, and they have a very good game plan. But we also have really good coaches and really good players too. So that’s kind of what we’re looking at this week to make sure things like that don’t happen again.”
Day thought Ohio State should have played better on both sides of the ball on Saturday, noting that the Buckeyes’ offense was unable to take advantage after the defense forced a pair of three-and-outs in the fourth quarter. He said Ohio State needed to do more on both sides of the ball to help C.J. Stroud, who completed 35 passes on 54 attempts for 484 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in the loss.
“We had an opportunity there to go tie the game twice, and we didn’t do that,” Day said. “Overall, the whole day, we moved the ball up and down the field but weren’t able to finish off drives, we didn’t convert on fourth down and we’ve gotta do a better job in those situations and finish off those drives. If we do that, then certainly we’d be in a better situation at the end of the game. I think at the end of the day, we probably put too much on C.J.’s shoulders, and we gotta do a better job stopping them, stopping the run and then running the football on offense.”
Despite being forced into fourth-down situations on Oregon’s side of the field six times in Saturday’s game, Ohio State didn’t attempt a single field goal against the Ducks, instead going for it on fourth down five times while punting once from the 34-yard line. Most of those decisions didn’t work out for the Buckeyes – they went just 2-for-5 on fourth-down conversion attempts, while Oregon drove 99 yards for a touchdown after the short-field punt – but Day said Ohio State ultimately needs to execute better in those situations.
“Sometimes you get into that area where you feel like it’s maybe too far for a field goal and you don’t have a ton to gain when you punt, and so those are the decisions in-game that you go back and you revisit and make sure that next time you’re making the right one,” Day said. “Obviously when you don’t convert, it was the wrong call. If we convert, it was the right call. But at the end of the day, we just gotta do a better job executing.”
While Ohio State has to learn from what went wrong on Saturday, it also has to move forward, as the Buckeyes are now preparing for their third game of the season against Tulsa this weekend. And Day expects to learn a lot about his team from the way his players respond this week.
“You find out about a lot of people when adversity hits,” Day said. “A lot of people point fingers and criticism kind of runs rampant, so you learn about what people are made of in times like this. And certainly the leaders of this team have to shine through and be strong and make sure that they understand that we still have a lot to play for.”