With Ohio State's 2023 season opener on Saturday, Ryan Day took to the airwaves to preview his team's matchup with Indiana at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.
The Ohio State head coach said Indiana will test the Buckeyes on Saturday but believes his team is well-prepared for whatever the Hoosiers throw at them.
Day also shared his excitement for several players to start the season on Saturday, including Kyle McCord, Devin Brown, Marvin Harrison Jr., TreVeyon Henderson and Tommy Eichenberg, among others. He was followed by offensive line coach Justin Frye, who commented on the Buckeyes' approach as the program heads into a new season.
Here are some comments and quotes from Day and Frye on The Ryan Day Radio Show on 97.1 The Fan:
On the end of preseason camp, preparing for Indiana
- "It's time to go play against another opponent. Everyone is tired of playing against one another. ... It's time to see what we've got."
- Day said Ohio State has an idea of what it wants to do against Indiana but said the Buckeyes' gameplans are always subject to change depending on how an opponent responds or counters. "We have a plan. We will see how that goes."
- Day said Ohio State's preseason camp was great from start to finish. He was pleased with how his players competed across the four weeks: "There has been some great competition." As for how that competition impacts playing time on Saturday, Day said, "The guys who deserve to play will play."
- Day said Indiana is a talented team with plenty of variables due to its transfer portal additions in the offseason: "We will be tested."
On Ohio State achieving "competitive excellence" in 2023
- "Competition has been a huge emphasis this offseason."
- Day said the Buckeyes were able to compete in a unique way this offseason because of how many players were available in preseason camp. The Buckeyes "got a lot more reps" in practice and significantly improved because of that.
On Kyle McCord, Devin Brown
- Day reiterated that both McCord and Brown will play against Indiana: "They've earned it. They know the number one job here is to be the best quarterback room in the country... and to win national championships."
- On what he expects out of McCord and Brown on Saturday: "We don't need them to be extraordinary. ... We need them to make the routine plays routinely." Day added that, with Ohio State's pass-catching weapons, McCord and Brown only need to deliver the ball accurately and the Buckeyes' athletes will do the rest. "The speed, the athleticism, the ability to make players miss in space. That's what we are looking for in this game."
- On how McCord or Brown can win the QB competition in the season's early weeks: "There will be learning moments. Whoever can learn faster and grow faster will allow us the best opportunity to win."
- "We want to have a leader at quarterback. We've had that since I've been here."
- "They have to lead the team down the field – however that looks."
On Ohio State's offensive line
- "They are in a hurry to get on the field," Day said. He looks forward to seeing how Josh Simmons, Donovan Jackson, Carson Hinzman, Matt Jones and Josh Fryar perform against the Hoosiers.
- Day said Enokk Vimahi, Victor Cutler Jr. and other backup offensive linemen also need to be ready if called upon. Still, he feels confident in the five starters Ohio State has named to this point.
- On Carson Hinzman: "He has a really bright future."
On TreVeyon Henderson
- "His attitude and his work ethic this summer has been off the charts."
- "He is excited to be back on the field and be healthy."
- Day said Henderson has looked great as a ball carrier in preseason camp. He also said Henderson has worked with the special teams at different times. "I am excited. He is a versatile player."
- Day said he also looks forward to seeing Miyan Williams, Chip Trayanum, Evan Pryor and Dallan Hayden perform this season. He thinks Ohio State's running backs are "versatile" and "talented."
On Xavier Johnson
- "He finished last season great."
- Day recalled Johnson's performance on offense and special teams against Notre Dame in the season opener. He also noted Johnson's efforts against Georgia in the Peach Bowl, where Johnson caught a touchdown pass from C.J. Stroud in the third quarter.
- Day said Johnson is one of Ohio State's most versatile players who could help the Buckeyes at wide receiver, running back and on special teams in 2023.
On Marvin Harrison Jr.
- "Marvin is obsessed with being great."
- Day said Ohio State strength coach Mick Marotti made a rule that if Harrison wants to catch passes off the Monarc Seeker machine, he must bring his teammates.
- Day said Harrison's best quality is that "he wants to compete" because that drives him to be one of the best players in the country. "He is poised to have a great season again."
On Ohio State's three captains
- Day said he is thrilled to have Tommy Eichenberg, Cade Stover and Johnson as Ohio State's three captains this summer. He believes those three players have established themselves as the clear leaders of the Buckeyes' locker room ahead of 2023.
- "This year, it made a lot of sense. ... I thought it was fitting to have those three guys – veteran guys – representing (the team) in those three phases."
- "Tom Allen is back for another year. I think he is a very good coach. He certainly has his fingerprints all over the defense."
- Because of how many transfer additions Indiana has this season, "the personality of the team will be an unknown." Day believes the Hoosiers have around 30 new players on their roster from 2022 to 2023, which he said is unfamiliar to him, but he knows that is the new era of college football.
- "It will be a challenge. We know that."
On Tommy Eichenberg
- "I'm so fired up that he is back for another year."
- Day said Eichenberg can "anticipate" rather than "react," which makes him a special player in the middle of Ohio State's defense.
- Day said he was blessed to be around Boston College when Luke Kuechley was a middle linebacker for the Eagles. He sees a lot of Keuchley in Eichenberg. He thinks that if Eichenberg can play to the best of his ability for the second consecutive season, he can have a similar impact to the former Boston College standout in his college career.
On Ohio State's freshman class
- Day said safety Malik Hartford, offensive tackle Luke Montgomery and wide receiver Carnell Tate are three freshmen to watch this season: "Malik and Luke, Carnell Tate, these guys came here in the spring. ... I don't really see them as freshmen. Certainly, they will contribute this season."
- Day said Ohio State's summer enrollees are coming along but acknowledges that there is a noticeable difference between the freshmen who arrived in January versus the freshmen who arrived in June.
On Mike Hall Jr.
- Day said Larry Johnson, Jim Knowles and him are very happy to have Hall healthy this season. Those three coaches believe that Hall could end up as one of the best defensive players in the country this year if he can remain healthy and play at a high level in 2023.
- "He is one of the most twitchy defensive linemen that I have ever seen."
- Day said Hall will be integral to Ohio State's defense in 2023 as he liens up next to Tyleik Williams, Ty Hamilton, Tywone Malone and others. "He's gonna eat up a lot of snaps in there. I am excited to see him out there."
On JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer
- "Third-year guys now who have played a lot of football. We see a lot of our best players take a step in their third season."
- Day said Kenyatta Jackson, Caden Curry and Mitchell Melton "have really stepped up." While he expects Tuimoloau and Sawyer to receive the lion's share of the snaps, he said Jackson, Curry and Melton will play a lot in 2023. "I am excited to see those guys."
On Denzel Burke
- Day said Burke is one of Ohio State's most improved players in 2023.
- "He had a look in his eye that started in the spring."
- Day said Burke has "gotten his hands on a lot of balls" in preseason camp and expects Burke to continue that trend when Ohio State starts the regular season.
On Ohio State's tight end room
- Day said Keenan Bailey has done a "great job with our tight ends" this year. He added that Bailey is "very talented" and said that he has earned the trust of Ohio State's coaching staff in several ways this offseason.
- Day said Gee Scott Jr. has impressed him a lot in preseason camp: "Gee has had a good August. I'm excited to see him. He will be out there."
- On Cade Stover: "Cade is stronger. ... He is the best version of himself."
- On Jelani Thurman: "Jelani Thurman is a really talented young guy that we have. He has been learning a lot."
On Ohio State's offensive line
- Frye called the offseason a "ton of fun" but said Ohio State is ready to face another opponent. He shared that the Buckeyes mindset the past few weeks has been, "Let's get to the game."
- Frye said Ohio State has "built depth" on the offensive line in preseason camp.
- "We started camp with 19 offensive linemen, so we could do a real three-deep and sometimes four-deep. ... We got a ton of reps."
On how the offensive line can help Kyle McCord and Devin Brown
- Frye said Ohio State's offensive line will help McCord and Brown, "If (they know) where the wall is built in protection. ... We paint the picture with communication." Frye said he has been impressed with how well the Buckeyes offensive linemen have communicated in the preseason.
- Frye said Ohio State's quarterbacks "have a lot on their plate." He added: "They are involved in every play. ... The more we can (make them comfortable), the better."
- Frye said McCord and Brown will benefit from Ohio State's offensive line keeping Indiana's pass rush at bay from kickoff until the end of the game. "That allows the guys to play a lot faster, a lot more comfortable."
Ryan Day Zoom "Lightning Round"
- Day feels confident that neither quarterback will be looking over his shoulder at the next player. “It’s something you keep a close eye on to see if something like that is going on.”
- Emeka Egbuka will handle punt returns with Xavier Johnson on kick returns.
- Day said the team looked at “a lot of different options” for returnmen. He added that the most important skill is catching and taking care of the football. “You’ll see different guys have opportunities as the year goes on.
- There’s a strategy the team has for when to play Devin Brown after Kyle McCord starts, but ultimately, the team will do whatever gives it the best chance to win, Day said. “We’re putting together a plan on how we feel it plays out.”
- On what it means to say Mike Hall will get a “lion’s share” of snaps along the defensive line: “When you have somebody who’s in there that you’re counting on, they’re going to be in there. They’re not going to be rotating (series to series).”
- Day is excited to see new center Carson Hinzman get his first start under his belt and feels he has two great guards next to him in Donovan Jackson and Matthew Jones to lean on.
- Brian Hartline and Day will have a collaborative effort in calling plays, though Day said Hartline will get “more opportunities” to call games as the season moves along.
- Asked whether the Notre Dame game being Week 4 gives the team a “cushion,” Day said he’s expecting a dogfight Saturday against Indiana and the team’s focus is only on winning that game.