Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Previews Penn State, Says Jaxon Smith-Njigba is Expected to Be Available, Chip Trayanum Moved to Running Back Due to TC Caffey Injury

By Griffin Strom on October 25, 2022 at 12:37 pm

Penn State week is upon us.

Ohio State hits the road for its second away game of the season this weekend, and James Franklin's 6-1 Nittany Lions will be waiting for the Buckeyes in Happy Valley.

To preview a battle between ranked Big Ten East opponents, reflect on this past weekend's blowout win over Iowa and issue several other updates on the season, Ohio State coaches Ryan Day, Jim Knowles and Kevin Wilson held a press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Tuesday.

Here's a bullet-point breakdown of everything they had to say:

Ryan Day

  • "Every week is different and you try to be the best you can to identify where you can be most successful week in and week out."
  • Day says he spends most of the 48 hours leading up to a game thinking about the possibility that an opponent might do something they haven't shown on film yet.
  • Day says balance "makes a big difference" in the Buckeye offense, and the lack of success on the ground was part of the Ohio State's offensive struggles against Iowa.
  • "There was good and there was bad" on the offensive line on Saturday, but Day says a better defense exposes those more quickly.
  • Day says Ohio State's emphasis on toughness is something it hits on every week. "Our guys understand what a challenge this is gonna be." Day says "going on the road and winning a game like this is gonna be huge."
  • On the Buckeye defense: "When you can start off the game with an interception like that, I know it can really rattle an offense. ... We were attacking all day on defense."
  • On Chip Trayanum playing running back: "We lost TC (Caffey) for the year, so he won't be available. It's a long-term issue." Day says Trayanum approached the staff and said he'd be willing to move to running back.
  • Day says Palaie Gaoteote and Teradja Mitchell will have to step up at linebacker with Trayanum moving over.
  • Day says Jaxon Smith-Njigba wanted to get back into the game on Saturday, but that Ohio State didn't want to put him over his pitch count. 
  • On Penn State: "No matter when you go into Penn State, it's gonna be a challenge." Day says playing in Happy Valley in 2020 wasn't the same as a typical road matchup with a hostile environment.
  • Day says Sean Clifford is "tough," "accurate," and that he has "a lot of respect" for the veteran Nittany Lion quarterback.
  • "There's a lot of things we want to clean up coming out of that first quarter" of the Iowa game.
  • Day says "I'm not one to flood the quarterback with a bunch of information in-game."
  • On Noah Ruggles: "In that game, we kept the momentum going" with Ruggles' special teams play.
  • On the WR room: "I think there's some guys in that room that are very mature. ... It's pretty remarkable sometimes when you think about who they are as people." Day says "it started back with Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon."
  • On C.J. Stroud's mobility and decision-making: "I think he's done a good job of that this year. It's our job to simulate in practice."
  • On Julian Fleming: "I just think now you're seeing the best version of Julian for a lot of reasons. ... He had a couple injuries that derailed him. He stuck with it. ... He's a presence out there, and you're starting to see the big play ability downfield."
  • Day says "the plan" is for Smith-Njigba to be available to play on Saturday, and doesn't know about a pitch count for him just yet.
  • On PSU: "Big challenge. The combination of quarterback and wide receiver will be the biggest challenge so far."
  • On using both TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, Day says he likes where the Buckeyes are at in terms of each of their workload.
  • Day says last week Iowa played a lot more single-high safety looks, and Ohio State had to change up part of its game plan on the fly. "But you can't take a hard righthand turn."
  • Day says Tanner McCalister transferring in has "worked out great," and that he wasn't promised a starting spot when he showed up on campus. "It takes a special person. We've had a few." Day says the Buckeyes have been careful with transfers because "our culture is very important."
  • On Lathan Ransom: "You're starting to see the best version of him. ... It's great to see him making plays. This style of defense really fits him."
  • On concerns in the running game: "You just have to identify what you did well and what you didn't do well and make those corrections moving forward. Your result is a reflection of your preparation." Day says there was an "overall lack of execution" in the run game.
  • Day says he hasn't gotten final word on Bradley Robinson's injury situation yet.
  • Day says "when no one's watching, (Tommy Eichenberg)'s got a strong voice." Day says Eichenberg did crack a smile after scoring a touchdown on Saturday.
  • Day says Penn State does "a lot of stuff" on defense and that the Buckeyes must be prepared for it.
  • "Growing up watching Penn State was a big deal." Day says he has "a lot of respect for that program and what it's done over the years."
  • On Josh Proctor not playing on Saturday: "Just an illness. He should be back practicing this week."
  • Day says Penn State OC Mike Yurcich was a "big part" of developing Justin Fields during his first year at Ohio State. Day says he and Yurcich visited C.J. Stroud in California on the Thursday following the 2019 Big Ten Championship Game and that Yurcich had a great relationship with Stroud and his family.
  • On Cam Brown: "Not a long-term thing at all, so expect to see him back soon."
  • Day says Jordan Hancock was "dying to get back on the field. ... It's great to see him back on the field with our defense."
  • Day says Stroud has been "excellent on the sideline" this season and that his attitude has been great.
  • On Penn State DB Joey Porter: "First off you just notice his length and his ability to get his hands on you." Day says he "gets his hands on a lot of passes."
  • On momentum when it comes to recruiting position groups, Day says families used to ask him why there haven't been a lot of first-round draft picks at QB at Ohio State, and he thought "well there's gonna be real soon."
  • On how much JSN's absence impacts the Ohio State offense: "It doesn't (throw us off). ... Our guys really don't get affected too much by that."

Jim Knowles

  • Jordan Hancock “sees the formation well. … he can predict pre-snap what’s gonna happen.”
  • Knowles says he still saw areas that the Buckeye defense can improve despite an excellent performance on Saturday. Knowles was happy to see Zach Harrison have a standout game against Iowa.
  • Knowles says Gaoteote has "linebacker instinct" and great athleticism. Knowles says "I've always felt that he could emerge," but has had a "tough time" with injuries.
  • On Harrison not playing many snaps against Iowa: "Those are not decisions that we jump to. Things are working, you kind of go with the flow."
  • On Ransom: "Lathan is a guy that I've been totally impressed with since he's been able to practice." Knowles says he "didn't know what to expect" from Ransom at first, but "guy's playing like that, you want to keep it going."
  • Knowles says McCalister had "a lot of faith in me, a lot of faith in himself" upon transferring to Ohio State.
  • On Penn State's quarterback and wide receivers: "The quarterback is veteran, he's very smart. ... He's just a really good quarterback, he's an operator. And the receivers, they're skillful. They can go up and win a 50/50 ball. I just think that whole operation will be a challenge for us."
  • On Taron Vincent: "He's a veteran guy who made the decision when I got here to buy in. And I think that is really important for all of us to recognize." Knowles says "it's not easy" to start learning a new scheme this late in your college career. "Because he has the respect of a lot of players, he brought a lot of guys with him" in having the roster buy into his scheme and coaching style. Knowles is "really proud of him."
  • "The growth process in terms of us implementing the entire system, we're getting there." Knowles says there are elements of his scheme that the Buckeyes "haven't had to use yet."
  • On defending a standout slot receiver: "It's recognizing it, having certain ideas of who we want the matchup to be and how to play it. It's also creating some doubt in the quarterback's mind."
  • On the "arc" of the Buckeye defense this year: "It definitely has trended up, and continues to trend up. It's my job to keep that going." Knowles says Ohio State has to "keep the foot on the metal."
  • Knowles says "it's not difficult at all" to separate the caliber of an opposing offense from the performance of his defense. "We break it down, you study it for what it is. You correct, you teach off of that."
  • On Stroud: "He's great. He's the best I've ever been around. ... Every defense you call has a hole in it somewhere. What we do is try to disguise those."
  • Knowles says he didn't "feel any pressure" with McCalister coming to Ohio State. "I felt good that he was gonna come in here and do things the way we've always done it."
  • On Denzel Burke: "Denzel is the same. He is a competitive but quiet, talented (player). I've always had great confidence in him, and I will continue to throughout the season." Knowles says he's an "easy guy to coach."
  • Knowles says Ohio State's increase in turnovers has to do with momentum, guys getting comfortable in the system and taking chances. Knowles says it's an indicator that the Buckeye defense is doing good things.
  • Knowles says it's his goal to "help guys play free" on defense.
  • On his perception of Penn State: "I grew up watching them. ... Always well-respected and what Coach Franklin has done, great respect for that. I haven't seen a change."
  • On the OSU WR room: "Routes are great, speed, all of that, but actually completing the catch – as good or better than I've ever seen, and we see it every day in practice."
  • Knowles says he hasn't been on campus at Penn State much. "I just know that it was extremely important to the people I grew up around."
  • On Cameron Martinez playing more last weekend: "I think Cam is an excellent player. I really love his coverage skills, he's got great feet." Knowles says he's been hampered by injury but will play more when he's healthy.

Kevin Wilson

  • Wilson says staying on blocks was a weak point for Ohio State in the run game against Iowa. "They played better than us and we've gotta play better across the board."
  • Wilson says he feels like some of the best coaches are more like "basketball coaches" in that they go "by feel" instead of scripting things out all the time. "I think you gotta trust your gut, trust your players, and when you get greedy, you get burned."
  • On his philosophy on watching film: "It starts with generalization; who are their best players? What are the problems?"
  • "The first half (against Iowa) was kind of unusual because our defense created so many short fields." Wilson says it was "kind of hard to get in a flow" due to that. 
  • On Marvin Harrison Jr.: "He's physically and mentally matured. ... As tall as he is, he's actually somewhat not long-legged. Which means he's very quick and getting in and out of breaks." 
  • Wilson says "it's easy to be a little bit off" on offense, and that the Buckeyes were off against Iowa early on.
  • On PSU DB Joey Porter: "Joey's a great player. ... They're really good outside at corners. ... You don't shy away from it, but you don't be greedy."
  • Wilson says "we're gonna be challenged across the board" against Penn State, and the Buckeyes "can't back down from a challenge."
  • Wilson says "there's an art to when to talk" and a "calculated way to work together" with Day as co-offensive coordinators.
  • On the strip sack that led to an Iowa touchdown: "Just wasn't executed properly. Two guys on two, man scheme. ... Not blaming the kid, just gotta be better."
  • Wilson says run game struggles led to some "muddy" play against Iowa on offense.
  • On Trayanum's ability at running back: "He's a heavier load, but very good instincts, very good hands. ... he's played it enough, he picks up well."
  • Wilson's sure it's emotionally difficult for JSN to go through what he's going through. "Short-term, I'd love to get him back because he's a great Buckeye."
View 94 Comments