Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Says Buckeyes Won't Risk Future Injury For Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Thinks Ohio State Could Have Been "More Efficient on Offense" Against Notre Dame

By Griffin Strom on September 6, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Week 1 is in the books.

Ohio State pulled off a double-digit win over the No. 5 team in the country over the weekend, and Ryan Day had plenty to be pleased with after the Buckeyes' 21-10 victory over Notre Dame.

Day discussed what went right and what could've been improved in the season opener during his press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Tuesday, with safeties coach Perry Eliano and Buckeye quarterback C.J. Stroud following at the podium thereafter.

For a rundown of everything all three said on Tuesday, here's a bullet-point breakdown.

Ryan Day

  • On Jim Knowles and the Buckeye defense, Day said "it was the start we were looking for, for sure." Day says 
    watching the film, they played really hard, really fast, really decisive."
  • Day says "I think you're gonna see more depth played moving forward" on defense.
  • On Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Day says "we will not bring him back if there's any risk of him getting hurt for the future."
  • Day says competitive stamina "showed up in the fourth quarter" for the Buckeyes. However, Day says "that doesn't mean anything for this week." Day says the Buckeyes "have to bring it every single week."
  • On Stroud, Day says he's "very deep" and the "impact he's making on this program is very significant."
  • On Proctor being pulled after missing a tackle on the first play for Notre Dame: "We're gonna need Josh, Josh is gonna play a lot for us moving forward."
  • "Jaxon certainly enjoys being in big games, he thrives in it." Day says the Buckeyes trusted Smith-Njigba's judgment when it came to the decision of going back into the game after his injury.
  • "I thought our team did respond, you saw what (Xavier Johnson) did" after Smith-Njigba went down with an injury.
  • Day says "there's some things technically we need to clean up" and that there is plenty of improvement to make moving forward.
  • On Paris Johnson Jr., Day says he graded out a champion and was a "good part" of the Buckeyes' improved play in the fourth quarter.
  • "C.J. and all the receivers have been working hard to get on the same page, now you just have to get it on the field." Day says "we know that they can do it, now they just gotta do it."
  • On Luke Wypler wearing a boot after the game, Day says it's not a long-term injury. Day says either Matt Jones or Jakob James would play center for Ohio State if Wypler was out for a game. If Jones moved to center, Enokk Vimahi would play at guard.
  • Day says "we could have been more efficient" on offense, but "the attitude was excellent, the toughness was excellent."
  • Day says "I'd rather not" say what exactly Smith-Njigba injured on Saturday.
  • "The first play was an explosive play, and the easy thing to do would've been to go, 'Here we go again.'" "To see the defensive line win the line of scrimmage was excellent in Game 1."
  • On TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams: "They both really ran hard in the fourth quarter. It was pretty impressive to see those guys run that way."
  • On Stroud's standout throw to Miyan Williams on the touchdown drive: "It's as good as I've seen."
  • On Stroud: "I think if you watch him move, he's moving different. ... His body looks different."
  • Day says the Buckeyes will keep evaluating Smith-Njigba's situation this week.
  • On Tanner McCalister, Day says he came highly recommended from Knowles and Smith-Njigba, and has "really embraced our culture coming in." Day says "he's like a coach on the field, that certainly shortened the time for learning the scheme."
  • Day says it "tore (Julian Fleming's) heart out to not play in that game." Day says he's hoping to get Fleming back this week.
  • Day says Knowles' defense makes opposing coordinators and quarterbacks work on every play.
  • Day says if you don't think every game is big at Ohio State, "try losing it."
  • Day says his postgame reaction was "relief."
  • "I don't think there's any question" the scars the Buckeyes had from last year helped them win against Notre Dame.
  • "I think there's a huge part of Buckeye nation that loves the way we played. 100th anniversary at the Shoe, a bit of a throwback game, maybe."
  • "Every single week you gotta bring it, otherwise you don't have a chance to be a champion."
  • On something that was overlooked on Saturday: "I thought the locker room at halftime was excellent. I thought the sideline was excellent." Day says the Buckeyes "just had a look in our eye" in the fourth quarter.
  • Day says there was "a lot of positivity" in the locker room at halftime. Day says "they had a look in their eye that we're not gonna be denied."
  • On Xavier Johnson's touchdown, Day says "very well-executed in the moment." Day says it "absolutely" gives Johnson more consideration for playing time moving forward.
  • "I'll give the players credit because they believed. It was a hard camp."
  • Day jokes that now he thinks it was a "great idea" to start the season with a top-five opponent, but thought it was a "terrible idea" on Friday night.
  • "No matter who you play, you have to play the same way. ... That's why the theme this year has to be competitive stamina. We gotta bring it 12 times in the regular season regardless of who you're playing."
  • On the 12-team playoff, Day says it's exciting, but there's "a lot of work to be done" on it.

Perry Eliano

  • Eliano says "it wasn't planned" for Proctor to play that few snaps in the season opener, and that he'll need "both" Proctor and Ransom to play big roles this season. Eliano says Proctor was "great on the sidelines" and is "preparing like a pro."
  • On the atmosphere and the moment, Eliano says it was "priceless" to get a win with his family in attendance. Eliano says "it's a win I'll always remember."
  • "The flow of the game was great, our guys stayed locked in and poised." Eliano says the Buckeyes "never flinched" after giving up a big play on the first snap of the game.
  • Eliano says he meets with each player individually after every game to "make sure I did everything I needed to do as a coach to prepare them." Eliano says Proctor was "fine" after only playing five snaps.
  • On Ronnie Hickman's quality of play, Eliano says "he can play better, believe it or not." Eliano says Hickman "goes to work every day, keeps his head down." Eliano says every play in his room "wants to know what I can do better. And when you have something like that, it's special."
  • On Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, Eliano says "he's a great player, he's gonna make a lot of money one day."
  • On Knowles coaching from the box, Eliano says "everybody on the sideline's got ice water in their veins. ... When we get to when the lights are on, nobody flinches. ... There was no panic."
  • "I was more proud because we were tough, we were physical, they felt us. ... Yeah we're talented, but that only gets you so far."
  • On Ransom stopping Mayer on a big third down early, Eliano says "when we say Best in America, that's a walk of life."
  • On McCalister: "Tanner's embraced our culture from Day 1."
  • "I coach with my heart and I coach with feel." Eliano says "I don't go into any game with any preconceived notions" in terms of rotations.
  • Eliano says there were moments in the summer when Ransom was working out by himself, doing drills while he rehabbed his injured leg. "That let me know right there, he had a desire, he was intrinsically motivated."
  • Eliano says the Buckeye safeties are "loving learning about ball."
  • On Arkansas State, Eliano says "they're a good football team. We really are. We got our work cut out."

C.J. Stroud

  • "I feel like we handled it well all week in practice, so I'm happy we got the victory." Stroud says the Buckeyes saw all the looks they saw from Notre Dame in practice.
  • On his sideline throw to Miyan Williams on the move, Stroud says "we had the same rep in practice this week and it didn't go that way. Miyan didn't run the route all the way." Stroud says "it was a great play and I feel like it changed the game. It was amazing."
  • On moving on from such a big moment, Stroud says the Buckeyes do a great job of moving on quickly and preparing for the next challenge. "First games of the season are never really easy. Unless they're like total bums."
  • On Emeka Egbuka: "He got to show a little bit of what he could do, even though he could do more." Stroud says "we'll do more and more with what we put in and stuff like that." Stroud says the first game was only a taste of what the Buckeye offense can do.
  • Stroud says it's "not anything alarming" that him and some of the new receivers didn't look totally in sync in the first game.
  • Stroud says the Buckeye offensive line "did an amazing job" in the season opener. "It's exciting to see somebody young like that (Donovan Jackson) with that much talent." Stroud says Wypler was fighting through injury and says Matt Jones was "sick the whole week" but battled through it to lead the Buckeye front line.
  • Stroud says he thought the Buckeyes were gonna go for it on a couple fourth downs against Notre Dame, but "Coach Day has so much faith in our defense."
  • On Smith-Njigba: "He's the best player on our team if you ask me."
  • On having a different perspective from Day from time to time: "He played quarterback himself, but he hasn't played in a while."
  • Stroud said his dynamic with Wypler at the line of scrimmage is like the president and vice president. "He makes a call, I can veto it."
  • Stroud says he'd be doing the Buckeye wideouts a "discourtesy" if he took off running downfield while they were wide open. But Stroud says he feels more comfortable with his body this season and the physical toll he can take.
  • On Xavier Johnson: "He's an OG, he's a vet."
  • "I just want to win. I don't care how many touchdowns I throw, things like that. That's not our main goal anymore."
  • On Smith-Njigba, he says "he's not out for the season, thank god. So I'm not too worried about it." Stroud says his absence "skewered our game plan a little bit, but at the end of the day, we won." Stroud says Smith-Njigba says "everything will be fine" and the Buckeyes will get him back in the coming weeks.
  • Stroud says "if we needed him that bad, Jaxon would've played." Stroud alludes to Smith-Njigba's injury being a hamstring.
  • Stroud says Miyan Williams is his "best friend on the team" and that he's been talking about having those kind of moments with him "forever."
  • On Wyper's injury, Stroud says "we've worked some of those scenarios. ... It definitely would be an adjustment but nothing crazy."
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