On a quiet National Signing Day for the Buckeye football program, coaches met with the media Wednesday to discuss the team's approach toward the offseason and how they hope to improve before 2023.
In addition to press conferences at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and offensive coordinator Brian Hartline appeared on The Ryan Day Show on 97.1 The Fan to answer questions from Paul Keels and Jim Lachey.
Here is a rundown of what the coaches said on the show:
On Signing Day being quiet for Ohio State
- Day said this experience has been different for the program, which signed all 20 of its recruits on Early Signing Day on Dec. 21. However, Day said "it has allowed us to get a head start on the 2024 class," which he believes is an advantage.
- Day said most of the 2023 class are already on campus and working out with the team. Day says that "head start" has really helped the recruits get acclimated with the program before
On Ohio State's recruiting philosophy
- "We try to find the best available guys and fill needs."
- Day said Ohio State will utilize the transfer portal if necessary, but the program prefers to recruit the best high school talent and develop them throughout their years as Buckeyes.
- Day said coaches are asked to do a lot in recruiting, including constant communication with recruits, traveling to see prospects and meeting with them when they visit campus. Day believes his staff has done an excellent job navigating all of their responsibilities, and he has been pleased with the results in recruiting and in the transfer portal in 2022 and into 2023.
On the Georgia game
- Day said he's watched the Georgia game but admitted it "leaves a mark" every time.
- Right now, Day said his staff is focused on recruiting and development, and his players are focused on strength and conditioning and development. Day said, "the Georgia loss is motivating, and there is a lot that we have learned from it." He hopes what Ohio State has learned will push them into having a great offseason.
On additions from the transfer portal
- Day said the addition of Syracuse transfer safety Ja'Had Carter is exciting for the defense because of Jim Knowles' three-safety defense that relies heavily on the position.
- Louisiana-Monroe transfer offensive lineman Victor Cutler "fills a need" for Ohio State on the interior offensive line after Luke Wypler declared for the 2023 NFL draft in January. Day said he had hoped to have Wypler back on the roster next season but fully support's Wypler's decision to turn pro and wishes him the best.
- Day says the transfer portal will continue to be where Ohio State looks to add players that "fit the culture" of being a Buckeye and want to see their teammates succeed as much as themselves.
On the Kyle McCord, Devin Brown
- "We're gonna miss C.J. Stroud, but we're gonna have an opportunity to see what the next era of Ohio State quarterback looks like this spring."
- Day said McCord is "very intelligent and was highly recruited coming out of high school." He thinks McCord is a player with a strong, accurate arm that allows him to make plenty of throws across the field. Day also said McCord has been seen as a leader in the locker room over the past two seasons and believes the players respond well to his leadership.
- Day said Brown "was kind of thrown into it last year but handled it well." Day said Brown has many of the same leadership qualities as McCord and has shown excellent command of the offense during his brief time as a Buckeye. He also sees Brown as an intelligent player with athleticism, a strong arm and accuracy.
- Day added that Oregon State transfer Tristan Gebbia will also receive snaps this spring. Lincoln Kienholz will have opportunities when he arrives on campus in June following his basketball and baseball seasons for his high school in South Dakota.
On Brian Hartline
- "Just 60 points a game, like everyone yells at me during the Skull Sessions and on our walks over to the stadium," Day joked. "No, he'll do a phenomenal job."
- Day said "it will be exciting" to see what Hartline can do as an offensive coordinator. He said there hasn't been a decision yet regarding who will call plays for the offense next year, but he claimed the duties will be passed between him and Hartline throughout the spring to find out what works best.
- Day said Hartline has created a fantastic position room with the wide receivers. "These guys are some of the hardest-working warriors in our program." He said the younger receivers have tremendous role models in Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Xavier Johnson and hopes the freshman and sophomores soak up a lot of knowledge from them as possible this spring.
On the offensive line
- Day said Justin Frye will have a great responsibility this spring to find the best five players to operate the offensive line in 2023. Day said he doesn't have a set five in his mind that are the clear-cut starters moving forward, but he hopes that becomes clearer in spring practices.
- Day said Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones will need to be leaders in the position room this offseason as players with the most in-game experience for the Buckeyes.
On having James Laurinaitis on staff
- "It's exciting to have James here. He is now our sixth former player on staff here."
- Day said Laurinaitis is like Hartline in a lot of ways, specifically with how he and Hartline both shared long careers in the NFL at their respective positions which makes them valuable assets on the coaching staff based on what they've learned from their football careers at the different levels of the sport.
- Day said he had many conversations with Laurinaitis about coaching for Ohio State after his NFL career ended and is happy to have him on the staff a few years later.
On the linebackers
- Knowles said the linebackers saw the most significant improvement from a position group from Week 1 to the Peach Bowl in 2022.
- Knowles said he tries to teach the linebackers like how Wayne Gretzky scored goals in hockey. "Gretzky said he scored so many goals because he knew where the puck was going to be. That's what I teach the linebackers, to go where the play is going to be."
- Knowles said he is happy to have Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers back in 2023 and is excited about the younger talent like C.J. Hicks coming up through the program and continuing to develop.
On Ohio State's front seven holding up against Michigan, Georgia
- "I thought we held up at the front, but I want to see us take the next step to become more dominant across the board in those big games."
- Knowles said he hopes the front seven will continue to be a strength for the defense and that the defensive backfield will continue to develop and also become a strength for the defense.
On the Ohio State offense
- Knowles said Ohio State will be in great hands with either Kyle McCord or Devin Brown at quarterback in 2023. By seeing both in practice last year, he has a good idea of how talented each player is and what they can bring to the offense, and he looks forward to battling them throughout spring practices.
- Knowles said Ohio State's offense is one of the best in the country, and he expects that to continue with Ryan Day and Brian Hartline working together in tandem, regardless of who calls the plays.
On the defensive coaching staff
- Knowles said Ohio State is one of a few programs in college football that should always be expected to have the best coaching staff in the sport. He believes that is true of the Buckeyes and said Larry Johnson, Perry Eliano and Tim Walton were phenomenal in their roles last season.
- Knowles expects the Ohio State defense to be better next season because of his staff, which has now had an entire season to install his defensive formations/gameplans and teach their respective players how to fit within that system to maximize their athleticism and talent.
On having Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka step up last year
- "It was pretty awesome. That has to continue with the guys behind them and push that upper-echelon group this spring," he said. "We are really excited about the opportunity they have."
- Hartline said the young receivers have an opportunity to prove that they belong this year in the same way that Harrison and Egbuka did in 2022. He said the wide receivers "are the hardest working position group on the team" and that it shows during practice and games.
On if the wide receivers will make McCord and Brown's job easier
- "I would think so."
- Hartline said the wide receivers need to get on the same page as Kyle McCord and Devin Brown because a wide receiver's responsibility is to make the quarterback's job easier, not vice versa.
- Hartline said Corey Dennis, Justin Frye, Keenan Bailey and Tony Alford make his job much easier as he handles his duties as an offensive coordinator, which he believes will allow the offense to run smoothly in 2023 and beyond.
On recruiting at Ohio State
- "You can't beat Ohio State."
- Hartline said the facilities Ohio State offers for its players are among the best, if not the best, in the country. But even more than that, Hartline believes the legacy players like Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Troy Smith and others have left during their time as Buckeyes is one of the biggest selling points.
- As Hartline steps into a new role, he doesn't plan on having the level of recruiting slip. In fact, he expects it to improve as he can work with Dennis, Frye, Bailey and Alford to recruit some of the best offensive talents across the country at the high school level and in the transfer portal.