Before he takes the stage for his formal press conference at Big Ten Media Days, Ryan Day spent a little over 12 minutes speaking with Ohio State reporters on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday morning.
In his first interview session of the day, Ohio State’s head coach talked about what the Buckeyes have accomplished this summer, why C.J. Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Ronnie Hickman are the players joining him in Indianapolis today and much more.
A quick bullet-point rundown of what Day had to say:
- Day said Ohio State brought Stroud and Smith-Njigba to media days even though they’re not seniors because of the way they played last season and because they are both on the leadership committee.
- Day said Hickman “has put his time in” and is someone who has really taken to the new defensive scheme and is expected to provide leadership for the Buckeyes’ defense this year.
- The expectations for Day and the Buckeyes haven’t changed – “beat the team up north, win the Big Ten championship and the national championship.”
- Day said he thinks it “helps a lot” that many true freshmen played last season, giving them valuable experience going into their sophomore year.
- Day thinks the Buckeyes were so young last season that they “didn’t know what they didn’t know,” but he thinks the scars of last season will make them better this year.
- The Buckeyes have focused on building the “competitive stamina” to bring it week in and week out and play their best football every week.
- It’s a point of emphasis for the Buckeyes to be able to run the ball, especially when they’re playing on the road and in bad weather.
- The preseason schedule hasn’t changed much from past years.
- Day thinks Stroud and Smith-Njigba have already gotten a feel for the spotlight that they’ll be under this year, but he thinks it’s good for them to be at Big Ten Media Days and see the stadium where they’ll hopefully be playing in the Big Ten Championship Game last year.
- The season opener against Notre Dame “amplifies the preseason, for sure. You have to play your best football right then and there.”
- Both Lathan Ransom and Josh Fryar are expected to be available for preseason camp after missing spring practices with injuries.
- Day believes the additions of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten “gives us a lot of juice as a conference.” He said it hasn’t made much of an impact on Ohio State’s recruiting yet, but he thinks it will as time goes on.
- On how the team has looked in summer workouts: “There has been an edge to them. There’s been a different look in their eye.”
- Day said the Buckeyes are further ahead now than they’ve been at this time in past years because they were allowed to do more in summer workouts – such as using a football in drills – than they’ve been allowed to in the past.
- On Smith-Njigba: “He's a quiet leader, but when he speaks, people listen.”
- On the development of the defensive line: “I think when you see some of their body changes, you’re gonna be surprised.”
- Day thinks the return of Tyler Friday and Josh Proctor from injuries will provide valuable leadership on defense.
- Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Zen Michalski and fourth-year guard Enokk Vimahi have both “had a really good offseason,” Day said.
- Does he feel good about the starting five on the offensive line? “We’ll see,” but he believes all five starters are “really good offensive linemen.”
- Day says “there’s a lot going on” with NIL, but “we’re always going to advocate for our players and be aggressive.”
- Day on the possibility of a 16-team playoff: “It sounds exciting. But there's so many things that come with that.” With everything else he has on his plate, he’s letting Gene Smith handle the playoff conversations.
- Did tackling in the spring game set the tone for preseason camp? “I hope so.”
You can hear all of what Day had to say during his first interview session of the day in the video above, and stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for more coverage throughout the day as Day, Stroud, Smith-Njigba and Hickman meet with the media.