Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Says C.J. Stroud Will Be Starter If Healthy, Matt Barnes Says Defensive Play Calling Has Been "Group Effort"

By Griffin Strom on September 28, 2021 at 1:08 pm

Ryan Day took the podium at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Tuesday to address members of the media after the weekend's win over Akron and ahead of Saturday's trip to New Jersey.

Ohio State secondary coach and defensive play caller Matt Barnes spoke to the media for the first time this season following Day, with redshirt freshman center Luke Wypler after that and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett still to come.

Here's a bullet-point breakdown of everything the Buckeyes discussed at their weekly press conference.

Ryan Day

  • On freshman productivity, Day says he didn't expect to have quite this much. Day says he knew there was a gap in playing time coming into the season.
  • On Stroud: "We'll see how today goes. It sounds like the week helped him, and he's going in the right direction." Day says Stroud is the starter if he's fully healthy.
  • Day says he believes the team is better than it was four weeks ago as it heads into conference play.
  • On QB reps, Day says they are spreading it around. Whoever is starting gets the majority of the first-team reps.
  • On K'Vaughan Pope, Day says "there was an incident there that we addressed. He's removed from the team. There has to be consequences for actions. His emotions kind of got out of hand there." Day says he thought Pope did a good job taking accountability afterwards.
  • Day says he won't consider putting Kyle McCord getting into the game if Stroud is struggling "any more than a couple weeks ago" after McCord's start against Akron.
  • "There's been a little bit of a recalibration because of a lot of missed play and missed reps." Day says "at the end of the day, we have a lot of great guys in our program, but it comes down to how you perform."
  • On team leadership: "When you actually get out there and play and do the things you expect yourself to do, you feel more empowered to take a leadership role." Day says players feel stronger about stepping up as leaders once they actually play.
  • On what ideal carries for TreVeyon Henderson would be: "We want to make sure run-pass is pretty equal. Right in the 20-carry range is pretty good."
  • On the OSU RB rotation: "I don't know if it's set." Day says Master Teague is "playing good football right now, and he deserves to run." Day says Miyan Williams is "working through some things right now."
  • Day says Evan Pryor has done a good job of not trying to compare himself to anybody else, and that doing so would not be a "recipe for success." Day says "I think you're gonna see a very good player here in the future."
  • "We're kind of looking to really solidify those roles" in the secondary.
  • Day says Harry Miller will be back with the team this week and had been dealing with health issues before.
  • Day says he was excited by the energy that the team played with, but that the Pope injury "bothered me, and it was hard to sleep that night."
  • On Justin Fields being sacked nine times against the Browns: "Not a great start, but there's a lot of quarterbacks that haven't had great starts." Day referenced Peyton Manning's first season in the NFL. Day didn't watch the game Sunday.
  • On Thayer Munford's situation, Day says Studrawa will talk to the offensive line this week and see if Matt Jones will remain at left guard.
  • On Rutgers and Greg Schiano: "I think he's done a very good job these last two years of getting his team ready." Day says Rutgers played excellent defense in the fourth quarter against Michigan.
  • On Paris Johnson: "I think any time you don't notice a guard, he's doing a heck of a job." Day says it might have been glossed over that five players on the offensive line are all doing something "for the first time."
  • Day says the team has been trying to figure out who to play because there wasn't a lot to go on in terms of prior experience, and the team has tried to project a little bit with certain players.
  • Which group has made the most progress? The defensive backs and offensive line, the running backs due to Henderson.
  • On Haskell Garrett: "It's well-documented what happened to him, and then for him to be able to respond how he did, I think that was a little bit of a crossroads." Day says Garrett has "really changed as a person in a lot of ways."
  • Day is "optimistic" that Stroud will start this week.
  • Day says Kyle McCord was "inconsistent" with some of his reads on Saturday and "kind of nervous" against Akron. However, Day acknowledges that it was his first time ever starting.
  • Day says three different guys stepped up in front of the team this past week and delivered powerful messages. Garrett Wilson, Xavier Johnson and Jerron Cage were the three players.
  • Day thinks Rutgers has been "executing what they've been asked to execute" and says the team seems to be buying into what Schiano "has been preaching to them."
  • Day says the Buckeye offensive line has a "best six right now" because of Matt Jones' standard of play. Day says Thayer Munford is one of the most unselfish players he's been around. 
  • On frequent transfers recently, Day says "I've never been one to run guys off the team." Day says there might have been opportunities for him to do so in the spring.
  • On linebacker depth, Day says he thinks the team is OK right now, but that there would need to be a plan if the group took some more hits.
  • Day says he's hoping to get some of the injured players back this week, but thinks some of them are still dealing with lingering issues.
  • Day "can't say enough" about how impressed he's been with Emeka Egbuka. Day says his "approach, his maturity level" gives him the potential to be a great leader in the future.
  • On Chris Olave having just two catches, Day says part of that is because he only played one half of football. 

Matt Barnes

  • On play calling dynamics: "Sort of a group effort, particularly gameday." Barnes says "in a lot of ways, the game kind of calls itself."
  • Barnes says the defense has seen improvements, but will be tested more getting back into Big Ten conference play.
  • Barnes says he hasn't been surprised by the success of young players like Denzel Burke and Cam Martinez.
  • How did the secondary respond to an increased pass rush? "It truly takes all 11 guys, it's not just one person that can take over the game." Barnes says there's "no LeBron" of defensive football.
  • On being patient with freshmen: "We know that if your habits aren't great off the field, it will rear its head on the field." Barnes says the older players are giving the younger ones guidance.
  • On Burke: "Denzel's got a really rare skill set." Barnes says he's not surprised by his success, and has been "very pleased" with his play.
  • On handling the play calling transition, Barnes says it "continues to be a change for all of us" and that it has been a humbling experience.
  • On Sevyn Banks: "It's easy to overlook the fact that Sevyn missed all of the spring with a knee setback." Barnes says Banks suffered setbacks again in the summer and in preseason camp that has slowed his progress. Barnes says it's difficult to jump back in, and unfair to expect Banks to do so.
  • Barnes says some of Ronnie Hickman's success is a result of 10 other defenders that are buying in, credit's the pass rush for setting up his interception against Akron.
  • Barnes says the past couple games have quickly become "pass tilted," which has made the secondary alignments more flexible.
  • Barnes says the Buckeyes had a log jam at cover safety, but that moving Ransom to free safety might have been necessary to give depth to that position with Josh Proctor being out. Barnes says Bryson Shaw has been "outstanding" this season, but that he can't physically play 90 snaps a game.
  • On being in the box vs. being on the field, Barnes says you can sometimes get "lost in the box," but on the field, he can feel the urgency of the situation. Barnes says he can't "articulate the adjustments to our players" when he's in the box. Barnes says it was a group decision for him to come down on the field.
  • Barnes says a similar situation played out for him at Maryland in terms of taking over play calling.
  • Barnes says "Kourt (Williams) is a stud" and calls him one of the best players he's been around. Says he expects Williams' stock to continue to rise.
  • Barnes says he learned "some valuable lessons" in 2018 with Maryland, and that he's trying to apply them this year.
  • Barnes says he's a "low-ego guy" and is willing to take good ideas from the other defensive coaches for the Buckeyes.
  • On Sevyn Banks: "Sevyn's a pro, I'll tell you that." Barnes says Banks was locked in even when injured and unable to help the team. Barnes says he "hasn't had to say a whole lot" to Banks.

OC Luke Wypler

  • "Four games in, I've learned a lot." Wypler says he isn't making the same mistakes he was coming into the season.
  • On Matt Jones: "Matt's a great player, he's stepped up." Wypler says he hasn't noticed much of a difference without Munford.
  • Wypler says he's gonna have 200 friends and family members at the game Saturday, given it's in his home state of New Jersey.
  • With Harry Miller expected back, Wypler says it's up to Studrawa and Day to decide how that will impact the battle at center.
  • Wypler says he feels more comfortable with what's going on now, and isn't quite as nervous as he was during the season opener.
  • On Rutgers, Wypler says it is a sound team, and that is has an "interesting" defensive front. Wypler says the previous Rutgers regime recruited him prior to Schiano coming back. Wypler said he attended a lot of games growing up but wasn't a huge fan.
  • Wypler says he gave up on trying to find good bagels in Columbus, but has had some success finding good pizza around campus. Says Tommy's on Lane Avenue is his go-to.
  • Wypler says the past three games have prepared him for different three-down defenses moving forward.
  • On Henderson and the OSU RBs: "I think all those guys have been doing a tremendous job in practice." Wypler says Henderson is a "very dynamic talent."
  • Wypler says he doesn't really think about what would have happened if he had gone to Rutgers, or if other in-state talent had stayed home to go there.
  • Wypler is "100 percent" a Bruce Springsteen fan.
  • On McCord: "His poise just grew throughout the game." Says he expects him to be another freshman that will have a bright career.
  • On Stroud: "I didn't even notice his shoulder was really bothering him." Says he is more concerned with protecting Stroud.
  • Wypler says Kennedy Cook and Kevin Wilson ran the room while Studrawa was out with injury.

DT Haskell Garrett

  • On Tyleik and younger players at DT: "I'm versatile with who I can play with. It's just about a guy's confidence, and that's about it."
  • Garrett says the defensive ends have usually had the spotlight, but now the tackles are starting to take some of that shine. Says the defensive line has a competition to see who can get to the QB.
  • Garrett says he's stepped up as a leader and his helping younger players understand the process.
  • Garrett says he knows the defensive ends only have two sacks this year, and smiles hearing that the tackles have produced 10 on the year. Says the line talks about that a lot at practice. "Those little competitions are what drives great football players."
  • On the defensive development: "It's really close. I just think no one really understands how young this team is."
  • On what the next step is, Garrett says it's executing at a high level.
  • Garrett says he's enjoying this season because he's not only a player, but a teacher as well due to the young talent on the team, and at DT in particular.
  • On why he loves Ohio State: "We all fight for each other." Garrett says the team has realized that all they have is each other.
  • Garrett says everyone takes the sport so seriously, but that it's "still just a sport," and he's been trying to drive home the point to his younger teammates that they should have fun with it.
  • Garrett thinks "this isn't the Rutgers that it used to be, this is a great Rutgers team and we have a challenge ahead of us."
  • On the trick plays from last year against Rutgers: "We're just trying to be prepared for everything."
  • Garrett says "when we have energy, it's hard to stop us." Garrett says he tries to bring energy on the field and have fun so that others can feed off his energy.
  • On the freshman class: "They want to learn. They're eager to get the knowledge out of the young guys."
  • Garrett says Jerron Cage brings "fire and passion" to the team. 
  • Garrett says the whole situation on Oregon has caused the team to take a look at itself in the mirror. Garrett says the team has really come together after that. 
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