Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Not Putting Timetable on Jaxon Smith-Njigba's Return, Hopes Cameron Brown, Denzel Burke Will Be Back Against Rutgers

By Griffin Strom on September 27, 2022 at 12:40 pm

It's Rutgers week.

Internally, Ryan Day and company have largely put their 52-21 throttling of Wisconsin behind them following the Big Ten opener, but the Ohio State head coach addressed plenty of questions from the fallout of Saturday's contest before previewing the Buckeyes' next opponent Tuesday.

Day discussed some standout performances against the Badgers, issued injury updates about a number of banged-up starters and talked about the strengths of Rutgers head coach and former coworker Greg Schiano.

After Day, secondary coach Tim Walton took the podium at the WHAC, with veteran tight end Mitch Rossi following thereafter.

For everything Day, Walton and Rossi said at this morning's press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, check out our notes below:

Ryan Day

  • On Justin Frye: "He has really done a good job building camaraderie in that room. ... He's built good relationships there." Day says the Buckeyes are "off to a good start" up front, and it's had "a big impact on our offense." Day says Frye's "impact has been felt."
  • On Miyan Williams: "I thought he had one of the better preseasons of anyone going into the season." Day says he's done a better job taking care of his body this season because "he does run very violently."
  • On Tanner McCalister: "Having a veteran back there was critically important" after moving to a three-safety system. Day says McCalister made "two huge plays" against Wisconsin.
  • On his involvement with the Buckeye defense, Day says "when I say something as the head coach, people usually overreact. That's just the way it is. Jim's been great, he doesn't do that. ... I want him to trust his instincts on things."
  • Day says C.J. Stroud played well and was efficient against Wisconsin, but can still improve on "everything." Day says "certainly don't ever want guys to think they have to be perfect."
  • "Having Marvin (Harrison Jr.) and Emeka (Egbuka) and now Julian (Fleming), Xavier Johnson, that's a whole different group than we had last year." Day says the Buckeyes have built the offense around them, which has been "a little bit of a different feel." Day says their development has been the "silver lining" to Jaxon Smith-Njigba's injury situation.
  • On Cade Stover's run blocking: "It took some time to get there, because you have to do so many things. ... He stuck with it, he was resilient and persevered through it."
  • On the 100th anniversary of the Shoe, Day cites running out of the tunnel in his first game as Ohio State head coach against Oregon State and the comeback win against Penn State in 2017 as particularly fond memories.
  • "I give a lot of credit to Tim Walton and Jim (Knowles)" for preparing JK Johnson and Jyaire Brown for stepping up against Wisconsin. Day says neither player missed a practice all preseason. "They're both very talented."
  • On play calling: "It's a good call if it works. ... There's a lot of work that gets put into one single play. But at the end of the day, it's about players, not plays."
  • Day says Ohio State identified Julian Fleming's physicality and work ethic while he was in high school, and says his ability to "crack safeties" and block in the run game makes a "big difference" for the Buckeye offense. "Because of his strength, he's a mismatch for a lot of DBs."
  • On JSN's injury: "It's the medical staff and Jaxon. We always refer to trainers and doctors and then get feedback from the player. ... We'll continue to do that." Day says the Buckeyes don't regret playing him against Toledo. Day says "we're not gonna put any timetable on it. ... I know he's frustrated, but we're not as far away as we think."
  • Day says coaches sometimes "talk too much": "At the end of the day, we all do a lot of talking and it's about hard work, it's about the players. And coaching is still about teaching, it's about counseling." Day says coaches can't lose sight of that.
  • Day says much of the offensive gameplan for Notre Dame involved Smith-Njigba, and that he said, "Oh boy, what are we doing now?" when he went down with injury.
  • On Greg Schiano: "He's an excellent motivator, creates great relationships with his players. Really can drive his whole program at a high level. I think he's an excellent leader."
  • Day says Ohio State is hoping to "at least have Cam and Denzel back," but that Jordan Hancock's return is probably further out.
  • Day says the Buckeyes expect Lathan Ransom to be available this weekend, and that the staff will meet closer to gametime about the status report moving forward so that it's more accurate prior to kickoff.
  • On Mitch Rossi: "You're starting to see what he can do, and he's a weapon for us."

Tim Walton

  • Says OSU won't know the health status of all its corners until closer to the end of the week. "You try to develop all the guys so everyone on the roster is ready to go."
  • Walton says the Buckeyes had "big expectations" for Jordan Hancock going into this season, but "you can't control" injuries popping up.
  • "The ultimate goal is to get the ball back." Walton says interceptions "hopefully feeds us to try to get more of them" and "try to get a little spurt of it going."
  • On JK Johnson and Jyaire Brown: "Those guys practiced a lot, man, and we go against the best in the country every day." Walton says it's his job to "make them calm" and "focus on doing our job."
  • On Jyaire Brown: "He did well" against Wisconsin. Walton says he isn't necessarily thinking about how many more reps he might have earned in games to come with the performance, though.
  • Walton says Johnson and Brown have taken "the most reps from the beginning of fall camp to now," and that it's helped them improve quickly. Walton says Johnson is "all in on it, man."
  • On Burke: "You have to have amnesia out there, because things happen. ... He's been doing a good job of putting it behind him, going onto the next play." Walton says "he has had a few good plays."
  • On Sonny Styles: "He's been proving himself in practice every day, man. Again, he's a guy that's played a lot of reps. He's very mature for a young age, and that starts from home." Walton says "he's progressing, he's a big kid that's strong. He's showing he can handle it."
  • Walton says he tries to develop a "great relationship" with all of his players, and works with them to not get frustrated with calls from the refs.
  • Walton likes the challenge of the college game is a welcome one for him because "my calling is the development of young men." Walton also relishes the chance to be back at his alma mater.
  • Walton says Cam Martinez is flexible and McCalister can play cornerback as well out of the safety room, if there were any more injuries at CB.
  • On Styles' best attributes: "He's tough, man, and he's seasoned for a young guy. He takes it serious, his approach to the game, his football knowledge, he can apply it. ... I think it's gonna be great things coming from him."
  • Walton says he tries to hold his college players to the same standards he held his NFL players to, because most Buckeye are trying to go to the NFL anyway.
  • Walton says he knew Brown and Burke would be out toward the end of the week.

Mitch Rossi

  • Rossi says he and Gee Scott Jr. often watch film of other tight ends together and take pride in the blue-collar nature of the position. Rossi says TE is a "developmental position" so it's taken time for Scott to adjust to it. "He's been bought in the whole time and just steadily coming along."
  • Rossi says it didn't always seem like there was "light at the end of the tunnel," but that "I did believe" in the vision for his use in the Buckeye offense.
  • On getting carries out of the I-formation at fullback: "If you could tell 18-year-old Mitch, he'd be pretty juiced about that."
  • Rossi says Cade Stover is "truly himself all the time," and often talks about raising a family back home in Lexington, Ohio, in the future. Says Rossi has "strong family values."
  • Rossi is "just trying to make the most" of his opportunities on offense.
  • Rossi says "even when you go up 21-0 in the first quarter, you cut on the film and there's still stuff on there (that we can improve)." Rossi says "we don't take anybody lightly" and that Ohio State doesn't have an issue with complacency because "we want to be the best."
  • On run-blocking: "We just went to the drawing board this offseason, watched a lot of tape on a lot of people."
  • Rossi says the first time he carried the ball in practice after switching to tight end was just a couple weeks ago.
  • Rossi says a lot of friends and family reached out to him after his touchdown, and that he let his dad and Jeremy Ruckert know it was coming ahead of time.
  • Rossi likes "the mentality of fullback play" and says "whatever you want to call me works for me," in terms of position. "It's been awesome to get the opportunity" at fullback in recent weeks.
  • Rossi says watching Wisconsin and Iowa play multiple fullbacks in recent years made him "raise an eyebrow or two," but knew his hard work would ultimately be rewarded at Ohio State.
View 54 Comments