Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Says Ohio State “Wants to Be Great” And Has “A Lot to Prove,” Jim Knowles Says Buckeye Defense is “100% Ready” For Notre Dame

By Griffin Strom on August 30, 2022 at 12:43 pm

Notre Dame is right around the corner for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes.

The Ohio State head coach held a press conference Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to preview the upcoming clash with the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish, who come to Columbus this weekend for a 7:30 p.m. showdown with the scarlet and gray.

After Day, Buckeye defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and a host of Ohio State stars took the podium to give their thoughts on the high-profile nonconference tilt.

Here's a bullet-point breakdown of everything Day and the Buckeyes said as just four days separate Ohio State from the start of its 2022 season.

Ryan Day

  • Day says the Notre Dame defense is "coached very well" and mixes up the styles they play. Day says Marcus Freeman "has his fingerprints all over the defense" but there's "a little bit of an unknown."
  • Kyle McCord would be the first quarterback in after C.J. Stroud for the Buckeyes, should they need a backup, Day says.
  • Day says TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams will both definitely play at running back for Ohio State and that freshman Dallan Hayden could play as well against Notre Dame.
  • Day says stopping the run will be the key to the game for Ohio State, and Notre Dame runs the ball "very well." "That's where the games are won and lost, and we've certainly spent a lot of time on it."
  • On having a lot of recruits at the game, Day says it allows them an opportunity to see what the atmosphere is like at Ohio Stadium and "picture themselves being on that field."
  • Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba have a "good connection" from high school that's only gotten stronger over the years.
  • On the connections between both coaching staffs, Day says "it's kinda unique" and that "it's a small world." Day says it adds to the excitement of the matchup.
  • Day says Notre Dame starting quarterback Tyler Buchner is "very talented."
  • On McCord, Day says "he's been in the program for a couple years. ... Kyle just has a little bit more experience, just has a little bit more under his belt." Day says "right now it's Kyle" as Ohio State's backup quarterback but that "things change."
  • Day says "it's exciting" that two prestigious midwest programs are meeting for a home-and-home series.
  • On having a returning starter at QB: "It's a different feel from last year. Everything was new last season." Day says even just communicating in-game will be easier now. 
  • Day says "I hope it was big" that Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and other young players for the Buckeyes got experience in the Rose Bowl.
  • On Steele Chambers: "Having a year under your belt of playing is important and I think that room is doing well." Day says the Buckeye LBs have a "wider scope" after an offseason under Knowles.
  • Day says Al Washington is a "good friend of mine" and will have guys "charged up" on the Notre Dame side.
  • On the tradition of both programs, Day says "it's hard to think about right now" but says "what a great opportunity" to have a special night.
  • "Every year is unique, but what's significant about this year is our schedule, bookended by Notre Dame and the team up north."
  • On the recruiting side of things, Day says "time will be limited" to catch up with recruits ahead of the game.
  • On Jim Tressel, Day says "he's had a tremendous impact on me." Day says the 2002 national championship team has had a large impact on Columbus and Ohio State in general.
  • Day says "we know what we have" on defense and the best guys will have to play a lot. Day says it will be "a lot different" than it was last year in terms of the substitutions.
  • Day says the Notre Dame pass rush is going to be a "huge challenge for Dawand (Jones)" at right tackle on the Buckeye offensive line.
  • On the expectations not getting to Ohio State's head: "Coming off last year, there's no big heads. We gotta go win this first game and they know that. ... They have a lot to prove."
  • Day says the Buckeye secondary is playing at "a very high level" right now and embracing the new scheme.
  • Day says the Buckeyes will decide at the end of the week whether or not Knowles will coach from the box or from the field.
  • "I can't tell you you sit there and sleep well at night, but at least we have more experience than last year." Day says "there's gonna be a lot of excitement in this game."
  • "I think we've had an excellent preseason." Day says "this team wants to be good and it has an edge to them."
  • Day says "the nation will be watching" on Saturday but "we can't make it bigger than it is, either."
  • On his excitement level for the Buckeye defense: "It's gonna be great to see. ... A bunch of guys running around with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence."
  • "This team wants to be great, and it's gonna start September 3rd."
  • Day says he didn't know Perry Eliano very well ahead of this offseason, but could tell he was "special" during his initial conversations with him. "Certainly somebody we're very fortunate to have on our staff."
  • On Matthew Jones, Day says he got in front of the team to share his experiences in the program recently. "There's a lot of people out there that maybe would've transferred. ... now he's got an opportunity to be a starter here at Ohio State."

Jim Knowles

  • Knowles says Perry Eliano is an “aggressive recruiter,” “really does it all” and has valuable opinions” for him and the Buckeye defense.
  • Knowles says the Buckeyes have been building a "mindset of greatness." Knowles believes the Buckeyes are at the point that they care enough that they'll "go through a wall" for him and the OSU coaching staff.
  • Knowles doesn't go back to high school film on a QB like Tyler Buchner who hasn't played much at the college level. But Knowles says he's "done his due diligence" on the Notre Dame QB in the film room.
  • Last year's Notre Dame-Oklahoma State game is "a good game to look at" but doesn't necessarily matter much more than any other game, Knowles said.
  • "These guys have a great tight end so we need to make sure we have a gameplan for it."
  • "We're ready. We're 100% ready to go."
  • On Denzel Burke: "He has the potential to be a great player and compete on a national stage. When you can say that about your corner, you're at a good place with your defense."
  • On being on a bigger stage at Ohio State: "It's the same process, the expectations are different. That hasn't changed what I do or how I do it, you just know it's there." Knowles says he'll "think about the nice parts about it when I'm old."
  • Knowles says he's "put them through the crucible" and "stretched them as far as they can go."
  • Knowles doesn't think there's a benefit to being aware of a first-time starting quarterback going into a game.
  • Knowles names Lathan Ransom as a player who has had a great camp and really stands out on film.
  • On the depth of the OSU defensive line: "I'm behind playing as many of them as possible."
  • On Chambers, Knowles says "he's growing every day into the position." Knowles says he's still "a work in progress."

TE Cade Stover

  • On toughness: "When you come out and have a camp like we had, pretty much leaving pads on all camp and no one complains, that pretty much means you're there."
  • On not getting a big head with expectations: "They could put us dead last in the country, we really don't care, to be honest with you." Stover says the "number one thing with this generation is, put your phone down."
  • "C.J.'s the most talented guy I've ever seen with the football in his hands. ... We love having him back there."
  • Stover says "if you say we're gonna run the ball, you better run the ball. We pride ourselves on that a little bit."
  • On Chambers, Stover says "he's crafty, he's tough, smart, elusive player. ... Sometimes it's hard to get your hands on him at points and that kind of pisses me off."
  • On Paris Johnson, Stover says he's a "great player" with a "good attitude, too." Stover says Johnson is the kind of guy that likes to "get after it."
  • "As a kid growing up, these are blue bloods, you know what I mean." Stover says he grew up idolizing James Laurinaitis: "That's who I was supposed to be."

S Ronnie Hickman

  • On Eliano, Hickman says his knowledge of the game has made a difference for the Buckeyes. "He kind of makes the game seems easy." Hickman says Eliano is "probably one of the funniest guys in the facility."
  • "Really can't wait. You put in a lot of work for it, just to show everyone what we've been putting in."
  • On Tanner McCalister, Hickman says "with him coming from that Oklahoma State defense, it's huge." Hickman says McCalister "always has the answer" if him and the other safties are ever confused about a check.
  • On playing with Josh Proctor, Hickman says "unfortunate I didn't get to see it all throughout the season last year, but it's nothing new for me."
  • Hickman says Ransom's had "one of the best camps I've seen in my four years here." Hickman says "I don't even think he was supposed to be healthy by now."
  • On facing a first-year starter, Hickman says "he's a great quarterback, we're playing against a great offense." Hickman says they'll treat Buchner like any other quarterback, though.
  • In terms of nerves and anxiety, Hickman says he has to approach the game like it's something he's been doing his entire life.
  • Hickman says Knowles doesn't get "too loud" a lot, but "once he gets riled up, he definitely can, for sure."
  • Hickman says the way the Buckeye defensive line has played in camp "looks different, it feels different." Hickman says "it's something I'm thankful for as a guy in the secondary. I can't wait to see what those guys do."
  • Hickman says tight ends in college football are starting to become a lot more athletic. Says Notre Dame does a great job of "scheming" Mayer to get open at the TE position.

LT Paris Johnson Jr.

  • Johnson says Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey is a "generational-type player" but that Ohio State has a lot of guys like that in its building.
  • Johnson says this OSU team is closer and it has allowed everyone to be "tougher on each other" and more honest with feedback. Johnson says he's tired of hitting his teammates in practice.
  • On the transition back to tackle, Johnson says it's been "really good" although there were some "slower moments" earlier in the spring.
  • "This is the only game that I have, I'm not thinking about the game after that." Johnson says he's not even thinking about his NFL draft stock because "all I'm thinking about is beating Notre Dame."
  • Johnson says "the speed of everything has changed" for the Buckeye defense and "it's exciting to see."
  • Johnson says Zach Harrison, J.T. Tuimoloau and "all of our defensive ends" have been "outstanding" in the preseason for Ohio State.
  • Johnson says him and Donovan Jackson are extremely close, and his relationship with him reminds him of his relationship with Nicholas Petit-Frere and Thayer Munford in years past.
  • Johnson says Jackson doesn't overthink things much, but that he still tries to prevent him from doing that. "He's super talented."
  • "This is gonna be the best defense we can prepare for." Johnson says the Buckeye defense can run the same play over and over but have different looks every time.
  • Johnson says "Everybody in the country knows we can pass the ball. What we're gonna take pride in this season is our run game and moving the line of scrimmage."
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