Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Names Kyle McCord Ohio State's Starting Quarterback, Jayden Fielding Starting Kicker and Previews Indiana

By Andy Anders on August 29, 2023 at 12:45 pm

With Ohio State's season opener against Indiana looming on Saturday, Ryan Day took to the lectern to give the answer to the biggest question surrounding the team entering that tilt.

Following a monthslong battle, Kyle McCord will start against Indiana in Week 1. Devin Brown will also play, per Day, and the team will evaluate the performance of both following the contest.

Day also took the opportunity to address the team's mentality in preparing for Indiana, name Jayden Fielding the team's starting kicker, the role the team's other weapons will play in acclimating McCord and why Keenan Bailey and Corey Dennis will be the team's offensive coaches in the booth Saturday.

Ryan Day

  • Kyle McCord will be the starter against Indiana, but Devin Brown will also play, Day said to open his presser. "Kyle has done a great job over the last two week of showing consistency ... expect both of them to play. We have confidence in both of them."
  • "Ultimately, we have to go win this game. It's a road game, a conference game against a well-coached team."
  • Day said the team will go into each game with a plan of how to deploy both quarterbacks, then evaluate after. "What we can't do is ride the rollercoaster every drive, every game."
  • Day feels that McCord has "responded with some really consistent play" in the face of being pushed by a younger player at the position. For both players, he said that "now is the time to put it on the field."
  • When addressing the dilemma of whether having two quarterbacks is having none, Day pointed to the example of Alabama with Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. The talent that Ohio State attracts gives him confidence.
  • Day believes both quarterbacks have "won the team," and have developed a chemistry with both the team's receivers and its offensive line.
  • One of the biggest challenges for McCord will be staying in a mentality where he's not looking over his shoulder and worried about what Brown is doing next, Day said. "It isn't about anything else other than winning the game ... they're going to get the same plays, they're going to get the same gameplan."
  • On the matchup with Indiana: "We've been in dogfights with them early in the season before, they're very well-coached ... ultimately it's going to come down to fundamentals."
  • As to whether Ohio State's defense has fixed it's big-play dilemma, Day likened the team's first handful of games to taking a "test" after a long period of preparation in college. The team will find out if its preparation is what it needed to be. "That was an area that stuck out like a sore thumb, an area that needed to be addressed ... you won't know until you get into a game, that's the test."
  • On the gap between McCord and Brown: "It's not a sizeable gap, but it's enough for (McCord) to be named the starter."
  • Jayden Fielding will be the team's kicker on Saturday. "Just overall consistency, again." The team has charted all of both he and Parker Lewis' kicks since spring.
  • Preparing for Indiana's 23 transfers and unknown quarterback has been a challenge, but one not foreign to Week 1 games generally, Day said. "There's unknowns, but that's common to almost every season."
  • While it's been very important to involve himself with the quarterbacks, Day has tried to hop around to other areas of the team and spread his influence and eye as much as possible, he said.
  • Day said that McCord is someone who teammates look up to. "Very serious, hard worker, always watches film."
  • It will be of paramount importance for Ohio State's receivers to help McCord get acclimated, Day said. Especially on third-down and in the redzone, where the quarterback "makes his money." "We need the wide receivers to not only show their experience, but their talent and their maturity."
  • Day said he "never drew lines in the sand" with McCord about whether he was at a tipping point, but there have been ebbs and flows in their daily conversations. At various points either McCord or Brown led before McCord's "consistency" caused him to pull ahead the past two weeks.
  • The team's veteran presence surrounding its new quarterbacks helps in easing the team's nerves, but nothing will suppress them entirely. "Every game there's butterflies, that's just what it is."
  • On the decision to put Keenan Bailey and Corey Dennis in the booth Saturday: "I feel like we'll have enough information coming from the booth, if we're not then we'll make a change." Added that graduate assistant Mike Sollene will be a major help in watching overhead.
  • Day indicated that TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams, Chip Trayanum and Dallan Hayden will be involved in the running back rotation and that the team will play Evan if they can.
  • When Day told McCord and Brown his decision, he said they both agreed with it. "They want to do what's best for the team."
  • On Carson Hinzman being a first-time starter at center: "Everyone who comes into the program has to go through that ... we've seen it in practice."
  • Malik Hartford, Carnell Tate and Arvell Reese are three true freshmen that Day expects to see play on Saturday, with Reese expected to appear on special teams.
  • Ohio State's next-play mentality will be important playing on the road, Day said, and there will be "consequences" on the team's season, as opposed to practice. "You can't panic when things aren't going well and you can't get ahead of yourself (when they are)."
  • Day said the team is "really excited" about Malik Hartford's future, and that his athleticism and physicality stand out on the back end.

Jim Knowles

  • Malik Hartford's "football intelligence" put him in a place to start this season, Knowles said.
  • Ohio State's starting adjuster position is still an open competition, per Knowles, and all three players (Ja'Had Carter, Malik Hartford, Josh Proctor) will play this year.
  • On why Tommy Eichenberg is among the best linebackers in the country: "He shows up fast. He gets to the ball quickly and really understands the game." The example he sets for other players is another thing that makes him great, Knowles said.
  • On Jack Sawyer: "He's been able to focus on one thing, and when you do that your talents can really grow and develop."
  • Knowles feels great about the team's defensive tackle play. "I think there's a whole grouping of guys that can play there, and we're really solid ... Mike Hall is going to be really hard to handle. Ty (Hamilton) is a stalwart of the defense, you need those guys that can take two blockers." Tyleik Williams, Hero Kanu and Jaden McKenzie were also named as standouts at the position by Knowles.
  • Distribution of snaps and how much guys rotate depends on the position group, with defensive linemen rotating more than anywhere else, Knowles said.
  • Knowles has great respect for Indiana co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri, who is almost "like a son" to him.
  • On Arvell Reese: "What you saw is a guy who plays fast. He pursues the ball, plays with a little bit of reckless abandon." Such a mentality has allowed him to get on the field, Knowles added.
  • Knowles has tried to evolve this offseason in an effort to limit the big plays that cost the team against Michigan and Georgia. "How do we stay aggressive, continue to win on third down, but still prevent explosive plays."
  • All three of Ohio State's top corners will play, with Jordan Hancock perhaps factoring in at nickel as part of a rotation with Denzel Burke and Davison Igbinosun.
  • On McCord as a starting quarterback: "Cool. Level-headed. Doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Strong arm. But really, I always look at him as that calm, collected composed (guy)."
  • Knowles has pushed Eichenberg to "run the show" and be the quarterback of the defense.
  • There being no starter at safety is both a product of no man emerging and a feeling that "all three can play," per Knowles. He still hopes one will emerge from the group in the last few days of practice prior to Indiana.
  • Knowles said there's a "blend" to playing younger, athletic players like C.J. Hicks and more veteran players who are comfortable on the field and know the system and their role well.
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