T-minus four days until The Game.
At Ohio State's lone press conference of Michigan week, Ryan Day previewed the forthcoming clash with the Buckeyes' archrival, discussed the impact of last year's rivalry loss – the program's first in 10 years – and fielded questions about several banged-up Buckeyes.
Following Day, Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles took podium to discuss his first foray into college football's most storied rivalry and talk about what he's seen from the Michigan offense.
We took notes on everything the Buckeye coaches said below:
- On the difference in Michigan's defense from last year: "Very similar. ... It's one of the best defenses in the country."
- On Dallan Hayden: "The way he stepped up last week was certainly tremendous and encouraging. ... I know he's gonna prepare hard to get ready to play in this game."
- On Blake Corum's health status: "He's a great player. We're gonna prepare for him to play. We expect him to play. ... While he is very, very good, we're just continue to prepare for all of them."
- Day says "it's been a while" since Michigan came to Columbus, and says Ohio State's "number one goal" to beat Michigan.
- "We have scars and it motivated us all of last season." Day says "we'll find out where we're at on Saturday."
- On whether the injured Buckeye RBs will play even if they don't practice, Day says "we'd like for them to practice, but if they miss a little bit ... we'll adjust accordingly."
- On the intensity of the rivalry, Day says "it's been like this for 100 years here."
- "When you lose this game, it's a tough year. There's no hiding from that." Day says "up until this moment, we've done everything we can to get to this moment right here."
- On OG Matt Jones, who was carted off the field late on Saturday: "If need be, you've got a couple of options right there (to step in for Jones)." Day says Josh Fryar has "mostly been a tackle this year," but "has some experience going outside and inside."
- "They felt the pain last year. They let that simmer, and we had to chew on that." Day says "I know you're gonna get an excited team" on Saturday.
- "You need to be reminded of what happened in the past, but the focus is on this team. ... Nothing else matters but that." Day says it "lights a fire" to remember what happened last year, though.
- Day says delaying the Senior Tackle is the "biggest change" in Michigan week protocol from last year. Day says now OSU has more time to focus "on what really matters."
- Day says he's not getting much sleep in preparation for The Game.
- Day says the Buckeye defensive line is "a year more mature" and that Knowles' scheme has benefitted it as well.
- Day says it's "definitely worth a conversation" about whether Hayden playing at running back is a better option than TreVeyon Henderson or Miyan Williams playing while injured.
- Day says it's "very sobering" to think the Buckeyes' season essentially starts now given that Ohio State's three primary goals begin with beating Michigan.
- On the home-field advantage at the Shoe: "We have the best fans in the land. ... It's a hard place to play in. Our guys enjoy playing here." Day says "I know it's gonna be an electric atmosphere."
- After watching the film on Saturday, Ohio State says "several guys" graded out as champions on the offensive line. Day says the Buckeye running backs "hit the hole a little bit better in the second half.
- On the comments from Michigan coaches last year, Day says "there's always gonna be back and forth and things said" in a rivalry game. Day says "sometimes it matters who says it, too." Day says "we certainly don't get caught up in other peoples' opinions."
- On the pressure of this game: "To me, this has nothing to do with anything other than this team."
- On Harbaugh's "third base" comment, Day says "I'm not gonna hit on that right now," but says "maybe another time."
- Day says Ohio State has gotten "a lot of good feedback" about the toughness of the team from coaches this year.
- On Tommy Eichenberg's injuries: "Tommy's as tough as any player I've been around. He kind of epitomizes what we want to be as a defense and as a program. Nothing is going to stop him, no matter the circumstance around the injury."
- Knowles says he's looked at The Game as "the pinnacle of competition" since he was young in this profession.
- On questions about OSU's toughness stemming from last year, Knowles says "I don't hear it, I don't talk about it, I don't really think about it. ... I know that toughness is a pivotal part of everything Coach Day does and Coach Mick does in the weight room. I've embraced it."
- Knowles says this is "the biggest stage there is" and that he's going to "do everything you can to stay focus in the midst of it, because there's a job to do."
- Knowles "hasn't put any time into last year's game" but says the time he's put into preparing for this year's game "has been constant."
- Knowles says "what can I do to give us an advantage" is "always on my mind. ... I always want to be pressing to find ways to give our defense an advantage."
- On Blake Corum: "We're not spending any time investigating whether he's going to play or not. We're just assuming he's going to play." Knowles says "if you're out of place, he'll make you pay for it."
Several OSU players also met with reporters on Tuesday, including Tommy Eichenberg, Xavier Johnson, Paris Johnson, Emeka Egbuka, Zach Harrison, Cade Stover and Ronnie Hickman.