Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Looking For Leadership From Quarterbacks At Start of Spring, Says "There's A Lot of Work to Be Done" on the Offensive Line

By Griffin Strom on March 7, 2023 at 10:52 am

Football is back at the WHAC.

Following Ohio State's first spring practice of 2023, Ryan Day took to the podium at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to address questions from media members who were allowed to watch the first 30 minutes of practice on Tuesday.

Day gave his thoughts on Kyle McCord, Devin Brown and the Buckeyes' quarterback battle, discussed Marvin Harrison Jr. taking first-team reps at punt returner and much more during his 20-minute interview session. We took notes on everything the OSU head coach said below.

After Day, second-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles took the microphone to answer a number of questions from reporters about Ohio State's defensive personnel.

Ryan Day

  • On Harrison returning punts: "With Emeka not going this spring, we're gonna put a bunch of guys back" at punt returner. "He's got really good depth perception, so if we need him back there, we'll use him." Day says the Buckeyes want to "build his tools, his package."
  • "We have some good young players" on the defensive line. Day says bringing in transfers helped the secondary depth, but "we're always trying to build depth."
  • On Sonny Styles: "You've seen what he can do in his first year. ... Couldn't have been more impressed with what he did." Day says he'll "play a lot of football" for the Buckeyes this season.
  • On Ole Miss transfer CB Davison Igbinosun, Day says "he wants to compete. ... He did a good job establishing himself early on." Day says "it's gonna be a good competition, I've been impressed with the offseason that some of these guys have had."
  • Day says the Buckeye cornerbacks have "really grown up" and praises Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock for their offseason improvement so far.
  • Day says the X-factor for a quarterback is their ability to use their legs to escape peril and extend plays.
  • On the QB battle: "Those guys are gonna compete and get a bunch of reps."
  • On his relationship with Jim Knowles after a full year: "More familiar with (the defense) and able to give more feedback."
  • Day is "trying to do more" roaming the entire field and paying attention to both sides of the ball. But Day says "it doesn't take long before I'm running over there to the quarterbacks."
  • On Mitchell Melton: "He's been cleared for individual drills, but we'll hold him to that for most of the spring if not all of the spring." Day says the Buckeyes need to be smart and "bring him back the right way."
  • Day says the first few days of spring practice without the pads on are more about building a base. Day says when the Buckeyes return from spring break there will be a lot more competitive situations between the quarterbacks.
  • Day says Josh Fryar is at left tackle, with Zen Michalski and Tegra Tshabola on the other side. Day says Carson Hinzman and Victor Cutler were at center, and that "nobody looked out of place."
  • Day wants Dallan Hayden to "keep building" and that "all indications are he's going to continue to do that."
  • Day says the second-year receivers are "really gonna get pushed" by the incoming freshman WRs, who have "already made an impact."
  • Day says Jelani Thurman just "needs a ton of reps" but that "all the tools are there."
  • On Igbinosun's size, Day says his physicality really stands out and that his length allows him to cover more ground.
  • Day is looking for leadership from the quarterbacks and wants them to be "felt and heard." Day says he saw that today. "The quarterback doesn't need to be superhuman."
  • Day says TreVeyon Henderson jumped into a mat drill with a boot on during the winter and the Buckeyes had to pull him out. Day says he's "dying to get out there," but doesn't know if he'll return to the field completely during the spring.
  • Day says incoming freshman quarterback Lincoln Kienholz is finishing up a run to the state basketball championship in high school.
  • Day says Caden Curry "has some of those tools" to play Jack.
  • Day says "we see a lot of potential" in Tshabola, and "we're hoping he can make a push." Day says "this is a big year" for Michalski. "There's a lot of work to be done."
  • Day on Brown wearing No. 33 at quarterback: "I thought of Larry Bird, I don't know why."

Jim Knowles

  • Knowles says the coaching staff is going to find a way to get Styles on the field. "He's got all kinds of skills."
  • On C.J. Hicks: "Great athlete, really good kid, good energy. Good team guy." Knowles said he handled not playing much "really well" as a true freshman. Knowles says there's "some learning" that must take place for a linebacker in his defense. "I'm really just looking for improvement from C.J. ... I haven't put any kind of timeline on him yet."
  • Knowles says he's thought about putting Hicks into the Jack role, although he doesn't know how much the Jack will be used in the spring. Knowles says the Jack wasn't used as much last season as he hoped because it didn't mesh with the personnel all that well.
  • On Mitchell Melton, Knowles says he "jumped out" as a Jack last year, and thinks he could continue to do good things there when fully healthy.
  • Jack Sawyer "will be an end with J.T." rather than a Jack this season.
  • Knowles thinks both quarterbacks vying for the starting job are "very talented."
  • On Igbinosun, Knowles says "he looked good out there today. ... He has real length and got his hand on a lot of balls." Knowles says he has "that (New) Jersey toughness" and will bring "a lot of competition to that position."
  • On Burke, Knowles says "Denzel, this offseason just stood out. The way he competed." Knowles says he got his hands on more balls today in practice than "maybe all of last spring and fall camp put together." 
  • On the two transfer additions in the secondary, Knowles says "the next evolution of this defense is on the back end." Knowles says Ja'Had Carter and Igbinosun "aren't messing around."
  • On the Jack position: "Going in, I thought over the course of the season we could get it up to a third of the defense." Knowles says "we just weren't as productive out of it, you have to go with what works." However, Knowles says implementing more of it is still part of his long-term plan.
  • Knowles "definitely" wants to see the linebackers rotate more, and names Cody Simon as a guy who could play a lot more. Knowles says Hicks and Gabe Powers have to show in the spring that they're ready to play.
  • Knowles says the Buckeyes are trying Reid Carrico out at different positions. "We definitely want him to make a push on special teams, we're hoping he shows up."
  • Knowles says an ideal Jack is someone who "doesn't fit into anyone's mold," and could even be a running back out of high school.
  • On the end of the 2022 season, Knowles says a lot of the things he's going to put in during the spring are going to be more specific to the "matchup games" they could face at the end of the season. Knowles realized he needed to "ramp up the accountability" in practice.
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