Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Says Buckeyes Will Put More on C.J. Stroud's Plate in 2022, Jim Knowles Says Ohio State's Defensive Talent is "Impressive To Me"

By Griffin Strom on March 8, 2022 at 11:05 am

Football is back at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

After opening up spring practice for members of the media for almost 30 minutes on Tuesday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson all spoke during the first press conference of the spring.

Moments before the press conference began, a Buckeye spokesperson announced 10 Buckeyes that will be unavailable all spring for Ohio State, and Day and company spoke about some of them thereafter.

Here's a bullet-point breakdown of everything Day, Knowles and Wilson said Tuesday after spring ball finally got underway at Ohio State.

Ryan Day

  • Day says finding chemistry up front, finding five or six guys on the offensive line is one of Day's top priorities on offense.
  • With Rossi unavailable, Day says tight end is one of his major concerns. Day says Gee Scott Jr. will get a look at tight end as he continues to transition from wide receiver.
  • Day says Todd Fitch's presence and friendship "means a lot to me. ... He's a huge asset for us."
  • Day says Ohio State has typically played five or six wideouts "if we can, but they have to get out there and earn that work."
  • Kamryn Babb and Emeka Egbuka have both learned "a lot of positions" for the Buckeyes.
  • "These two practices are a little bit more of an OTA style."
  • On Jayden Ballard, Day says "he just got one of the most improved awards in the offseason. ... That's huge for him and he's somebody who could provide a huge boost to our offense."
  • Day says Cade Stover is still figuring out where he's going to play next season, whether it's linebacker or tight end. "I think he can be a tremendous tight end. ... It's gonna be up to him."
  • On Josh Proctor, Day says he might not be full go by the end of spring, but will be back into some drills by the middle of spring.
  • Day says C.J. Stroud is now learning why he does things rather than just what to do. Day says the Buckeyes will "put a little bit more on his plate" in 2022.
  • Day says he was impressed with Kyle McCord's work today, and says Devin Brown "handled it pretty good as well. ... The more reps we get these guys, the better they're going to be."
  • On Harry Miller, Day says he'll be reevaluated at the end of the spring.
  • Day says Knowles "has a little bit of an army over there" with the GAs, interns and assistants he's brought over from Oklahoma State. "You can see why he's had success."
  • Day says Knowles is "really intelligent," and he enjoys being around smart football coaches. "The really seasoned good coaches do some of their best work in the meetings."
  • On Mitchell Melton, Day says he's being cross-trained at linebacker and defensive end, "but we're gonna do the best we can to have as many of those hybrid guys."
  • "When you dive into C.J., he's highly motivated. ... He comes out with the mindset that he has something to prove every day." Day says he's "on his way" to being great.
  • On Cam Martinez, Day says he's transitioned to the nickel position and "looks really good there."
  • Day says there's a bounce in the step of many of the linebackers now that Knowles has taken over the defense.
  • Day says "we always felt (Paris Johnson) was a tackle. ... He's played it his whole life other than last year."
  • "We're gonna have to move Jaxon (Smith-Njigba) around, that's just how it's gonna have to go." Days says there isn't any one guy that's learning just one position.
  • Jakailin Johnson and Jordan Hancock were among some other Buckeyes that were honored as some of the most improved after winter workouts.
  • Day says the Buckeyes formed a leadership committee over the offseason. "This is the best we've done at forming leadership in the offseason."
  • "The newness of day one is always something that's pretty uniform across the board." Day says "it's a start" on the first day of spring practice.
  • Day says Kam Babb is "full go" for Ohio State. "We're Kam Babb fans around here. Everybody loves Kam. ... If he can stay healthy, he's gonna have an impact on this offense, for sure."

Jim Knowles

  • Knowles says "you don't have to practice bringing guys to the ground. It's all about position."
  • On rugby-style tackling, Knowles says "I'm into it, for sure." Knowles says you don't teach leading with the head anymore, so tackling technique "all turns into rugby tackling."
  • "It's different because it's The Ohio State. ... I basically have everything I ever wanted, or anything ever coach could ever want. When you dream about being a coach at this level, that's it."
  • On the two different linebacker positions, Knowles says there's not much difference between them. "We're really looking for complete versatility in those two positions."
  • On Chip Trayanum, Knowles says he has "great potential," and that he's viewing him as if he has played defense for several years before now.
  • Knowles says he has to constantly remind himself to focus on the athletic nature of football first, rather than the academic side, and not get too far ahead of himself. "If the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught."
  • "This generation wants reason, they want meaning, and there's nothing wrong with that."
  • On Kourt Williams, Knowles says "this is a safety-driven defense, it really is. He's been playing a lot at our boundary safety position, which we call 'bandit.'"
  • Knowles says the Buckeyes are staying in four down for now before switching things up with certain hybrid positions off the bat.
  • On his first impression of the Buckeyes' defensive talent: "It's impressive to me, obviously day one. Now it's my job to mold that into a cohesive defense."
  • Knowles says the Buckeye defense must match the level of play of the Ohio State offense.
  • "I'm real confident in the front that they're gonna be one of the best fronts in the country."
  • Knowles says the Buckeye coaching staff has to simply give Josh Proctor words of encouragement while he continues to rehab from his injury.
  • Knowles says "I do envision (Ronnie Hickman) and (Kourt Williams) both playing together." Knowles says Hickman is "everything I want in a safety."
  • "Cade is a tough guy, what Mick in the weight room would call a dude." Knowles says "I now have to find a role for him. ... He's a front line guy, we need to give him a job, put him on the attack."
  • On Jakailin Johnson and Jordan Hancock, Knowles says they're "becoming mature," are "really quick" and have "a ton of potential."
  • On Steele Chambers, Knowles says "I like him a lot in terms of his attitude. ... He wants to learn, he's always there, sitting in the front on the edge of his seat."
  • Knowles says Tanner McCalister can talk to the Buckeye defense both about scheme and about Knowles' personal tendencies to his new Buckeye teammates.

Kevin Wilson

  • Wilson on the new Buckeye defense: "It appears early that it's a lot of multiple looks, which I think is what a lot of great defenses do. ... There's a lot of movement, but it's still gap sound."
  • Wilson says he would've thought 15 years ago that being a great teacher as a coach meant to keep it simple. Now Wilson would say it's the ability to connect with kids. "If they don't believe in you, it's hard to coach a young man."
  • Wilson says there will be more on C.J. Stroud's plate in 2022. "He can handle a lot mentally." Wilson says "our veteran guys are third-year guy. It's like our veterans are second-year starters."
  • On Donovan Jackson, Wilson says "he was about as athletic as most (players) I'd seen" when he first showed up. "He's a very mature kid, very smart." Wilson says "he's got a chance to be a special player."
  • "Right now we're a good stat offense," Wilson says, but the Buckeyes need to combine that with "the physical presence" to become truly elite.
  • Asked about TreVeyon Henderson, Wilson says Miyan Williams and Evan Pryor are coming on strong behind him and that all three need to be able to play "championship football."
  • On Gee Scott, Wilson says he's gotten into the 230s weight wise, and that he did some "really nice things on the field today." Wilson says he will create interesting matchups in the passing game. "He's gonna be in the mix to be one of the two or three guys to play a lot."
  • Wilson says Joe Royer is "knocking on the door" of making some real strides at the tight end position for Ohio State.
  • "We have inexperience at tight end right now," but Wilson says the group will either allow Ohio State to be "complete" or only "knock on the door."
  • "We really like the way Jayden Ballard is coming on, he's knocking on the door."
  • On Harry Miller, Wilson says "his skill set and size fits those three (inside) spots." Wilsons says Matt Jones is still probably Ohio State's second-string center behind Luke Wypler.
  • Wilson says Evan Pryor and Jayden Ballard have had "great offseasons" so far.
View 70 Comments