Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Expects A Top-10 Defense in 2022, Says Buckeyes Are “Scarred” By Last Year's Loss to Michigan

By Griffin Strom on July 27, 2022 at 12:57 pm

Ryan Day was the final coach to step to the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium Wednesday at Big Ten Media Days.

The seven head coaches around the conference that didn't speak at Tuesday's event held their interview sessions on stage in Indianapolis, issuing opening statements before fielding questions from members of the media.

Before Day, Purdue's Jeff Brohm, Illinois' Bret Bielema, Michigan State's Mel Tucker, Rutgers' Greg Schiano, Penn State's James Franklin and Wisconsin's Paul Chryst all addressed the media. We have notes from all of those press conferences below, beginning with the Ohio State head coach.

Ryan Day

  • Day congratulates Warren and the Big Ten presidents and ADs on the conference's recent expansion efforts.
  • "We could probably have brought 10 or 15 guys here today." Day says Ronnie Hickman's leadership will be needed on defense this season.
  • Day says Jaxon Smith-Njigba is "one of the most competitive guys I've been around."
  • Day says the Buckeyes are "edgy" this offseason.
  • On C.J. Stroud, Day says he's "walking a bit differently" this offseason. Day says Stroud has taken defensive players over to his house and cooked for them to show his leadership, and Day says that's important.
  • On expectations for the Buckeye defense under Jim Knowles, Day says the first priority is stopping the run. Day says the implementation phase has gone "excellent" so far. "We expect a top-10 defense. That's what we want."
  • Day notes that nearly Ohio State's entire "Rose Bowl team" is back from last year, and that almost the entire defense is as well.
  • Day says starting right tackle Dawand Jones has "lost a lot of weight" and says he's "really excited" about what he's done over the offseason.
  • Day says the Buckeyes created leadership committees this offseason that were voted on by players, and says it "brought the team together a lot more." Day says the team already "kind of" knows who the captains are because of this process.
  • On Notre Dame, Day says "it's gonna be electric and our guys know that, so there's gonna bit a little bit of urgency about it. ... We gotta play really good football in that first game."
  • Day says Marcus Freeman does a "really, really good job" and has a great staff. Day says the Buckeyes are alert in preparation for the season opener.
  • "The expectation is to win them all." Day says the 2022 team is more experienced, and "a little scarred, a little calloused." Day says the staff reminds the Buckeyes about its loss to Michigan "regularly."

Jeff Brohm

  • Brohm says Purdue is a "hungry group" that wants to improve on its win total from the 2021 season, but says "it will be a challenge" to do so.
  • Brohm notes that the Boilermakers lost their two top receivers from the 2021 campaign, and that the program must now replace them in 2022. "I do think we've built very good depth in that room."
  • On quarterback Aidan O'Connell, Brohm says "he's really earned his spot from day one, he continues to work hard every day, he's become a great leader." Brohm says "it's unfortunate his head coach didn't start him at the start of the year" in 2021.
  • Brohm says Purdue will have to "pick up the pieces" to replace a pass rusher like George Karlaftis.

Bret Bielema

  • On his comments about the Illinois roster last year, Bielema said it was more about identifying where he wanted the program to go in the future. Says the returning Illini have looked very good over the offseason.
  • Bielema says he lobbied to play a Week 0 game because it allowed Illinois to play one game at home before going on the road. Bielema calls its Sept. 2 Week 1 matchup at Indiana "a great challenge."
  • "In 52 years on the earth, I've learned you learn more from the tough times in life."
  • Bielema says "I think I just know our roster so much more" heading into 2022. Bielema says "it's a really good vibe in the Smith Center right now."

Mel Tucker

  • "We have shifted our culture at Michigan State. A culture of accountability, sense of urgency, being authentic and good old-fashioned hard work."
  • Tucker says 2021 was "a step in the right direction," but "nobody cares what you did last year. ... We're extremely hungry, we've got a chip on our shoulder, we've got a lot to prove."
  • Tucker says "we need to bring a championship to East Lansing."
  • Kenneth Walker's success as a star player out of the transfer portal will be something Tucker can sell to future transfers and running backs in particular.

Greg Schiano

  • "This is the best conference and the best football conference in America."
  • Schiano says his players have made an "uncommon commitment" to the program.
  • "I'm really excited about our team, our program, the state of New Jersey, where we're headed." Schiano says he's "grateful we're in the Big Ten," and that he has wanted Rutgers to be in the Big Ten since 2002, well before it actually happened.
  • On Big Ten expansion, Schiano says it just "makes a great league greater." Schiano says "I'm really proud of my conference" and that "I consider myself blessed to be a member."

Paul Chryst

  • "There are a lot of changes, but the one thing that hasn't changed for me is I get to work at a great university and the players I get to be around every day and coach. ... I'm truly fortunate to be around them every day."
  • Chryst says "the core values" of Wisconsin's programs have not changed.
  • Chryst on parity on the Big Ten: "There are no days off, there is no week that you don't have to be prepared for. ... I've always had respect for every team in this conference."
View 41 Comments