Ryan Day Radio Show: Ryan Day Expects Western Kentucky to "Throw It All Over the Place" As Hilltoppers Provide a "Different Challenge" For Ohio State in Week 3

By Chase Brown and Andy Anders on September 14, 2023 at 1:06 pm

While a Week 4 road matchup with Notre Dame looms, Ryan Day remains focused on one goal – defeating Western Kentucky on Saturday.

On Thursday, Day took to the airwaves to preview Ohio State's battle with Western Kentucky at Ohio Stadium, explaining that the Hilltoppers will "challenge" the Buckeyes in several ways this weekend, including with one of the nation's most prolific pass offenses headlined by quarterback Austin Reed and wide receiver Malachi Corley.

Here is all the need-to-know info from "The Ryan Day Radio Show" on 97.1 The Fan with Paul Keels and Jim Lachey:

Ryan Day

On Western Kentucky

  • "Different challenge this week. It will be a whole different game. I'm excited to get on the field on Saturday and see how it plays out."
  • Day said Western Kentucky will "throw it all over the place," which is opposite to what Indiana and Youngstown State attempted to do on Saturday.
  • Day said Ohio State has shown up "with a ridiculous amount of urgency" this week as it prepares to face the Hilltoppers on Saturday. "I'm excited to see – after a good week of work – what this Saturday looks like."

On Ohio State's mindset coming out of Week 2

  • Day said Ohio State has a "good confidence" coming out of the Youngstown State game.
  • Day said there is no substitute for in-game reps. "Nothing is quite like the game. You can see that, certainly at the quarterback position." Day said both Kyle McCord and Devin Brown improved in Week 2. "It's different when you're in the game."

On Marvin Harrison Jr.

  • "He's a tremendous player."
  • Day said Harrison's Youngstown State performance was the latest in many standout efforts in the receiver's Ohio State career. Day noted Harrison's performance in the Rose Bowl win over Utah and the Buckeyes' matchups with Arkansas State, Michigan State and Penn State last season as ones that stand out to him. "Marvin is a special player. It is well-documented. ... You see the playmaking ability out there."
  • Day said Harrison's talent – and that of TreVeyon Henderson, Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Xavier Johnson, among others – reinforces the idea that McCord doesn't need to be elite for Ohio State to be successful. "We have weapons out there. The quarterback doesn't need to make extraordinary plays... just make the routine plays routinely."

On Getting Freshmen Some Playing Time

  • "Malik Hartford got some good time last week... Luke Montgomery has played a little bit on the offensive line... Carnell had a good catch (against Youngstown State)."
  • Day said he hopes to continue building depth for Ohio State this season if and when the Buckeyes secure a comfortable lead against nonconference and Big Ten opponents.

​On Kyle McCord

  • Day said he felt Tuesday was the "right time" to name McCord the full-time starter at quarterback. He said McCord's "consistency" allowed him to separate from Brown, who Day said "earned the right" to play and showed how talented he was in the first two weeks.
  • "The more you play, the more comfortable you get."
  • "We want to see him take that next step."

On Western Kentucky's Offense

  • Day said Ohio State has done its best to prepare for the Hilltoppers' pass-heavy offense with both "good on good" reps and using the scout team offense. "There are some schematic challenges this week."
  • "They play fast."
  • Day said it will be crucial for Ohio State's defensive line to pressure the quarterback and throw the Western Kentucky offense off schedule with sacks and tackles for loss. "It comes down to winning the line of scrimmage."

On TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State's run game

  • "We have to get downhill. We have to get 4 yards every play."
  • Day said the run game is "not where it needs to be right now" but mentioned that Ohio State's offensive line and running back rooms have "worked hard" this week to improve. 
  • Day said it will be necessary for Ohio State to establish the run against Western Kentucky and prove that they have the toughness to move opponents at the line of scrimmage. "It's a big part of our offense to make sure we can establish the run."

On Western Kentucky WR Malachi Corley

  • "NFL player. The quarterback (Austin Reed) is an NFL player as well. ... They do a nice job."
  • Day said Corley is very effective with the ball in his hands and can be a threat to score whenever he takes a handoff or catches a pass. "We have to finish off the tackles."
  • "They are gonna have a few plays where they throw and catch the football, and that's fine," Day said, explaining that Ohio State needs to focus on having multiple players around Corley as soon as he catches the pass from Reed.

On Ohio State's experienced defense

  • "Much different. The exciting thing about this weekend is that you will see a completely different attack."
  • "Tommy is the one who is the calming force out there."
  • "I am excited to see them get on the field against a pass attack like this."

On Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers' Chemistry

  • "It needs to be an asset for us."
  • "We need to see that veteran play."

On Chip Trayanum

  • "He has the chance to be a real difference-maker for us."
  • Day said he hopes to see Trayanum improve as the season continues.
  • "Everybody needs to take the next step in the program. Everybody."

On Gee Scott Jr.

  • "He has (developed well). It took a couple of years. Tight end position takes time to develop."
  • "He's practiced really hard. He's played really hard."
  • Day said Ohio State's players worked hard in all aspects of the game in the offseason, preseason camp and the first two weeks of the regular season. Still, Day said, "Gee is one of the top guys right now. Hopefully, that can grow into a big, big role in this offense."
  • Day said Ohio State's tight end room "starts with Cade (Stover)." Day added: "In that room, he's a hard worker, he's a captain, he sets the tone in that room. Gee is right there with him."

On Joe Philbin

  • "He has such a great wealth of knowledge. He's been excellent."
  • "He's coached the coaches."
  • Day said Philbin has offered some "fresh perspective" to Ohio State's coaching staff and players. Day also said "he's helped me in different areas" as a head coach.

On Ohio State's physicality and toughness

  • Day said Ohio State wore pads for last Thursday's practice but will not wear pads for today's practice: "We want to be really fresh coming into this game."
  • "The focus will be to be more "ratcheted up" this week as Ohio State works to develop a consistent energy and physicality that translates from practice to games.

On Ohio State's offensive line, having different blocking schemes

  • Day said Ohio State wants to "build a wall" on the offensive line.
  • Day believes Ohio State has the athleticism and size to run both zone and gap schemes. He also believes having that versatility from the offensive line can open different things up for the run game.
  • Day said he has been "proud" of Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones for what they have done in their NFL careers this far. On Jones: "I think he has a chance to be a great player in the NFL."

Quarterbacks Coach Corey Dennis

On Ohio State's quarterback room with McCord as QB1

  • "Kyle has been given the nod... He's gonna do a great job."
  • "That doesn't change things for Devin... He has to be ready to play."
  • Dennis said McCord and Brown have a great relationship that remains "competitive" in practice.
  • Dennis said Tristan Gebbia and Lincoln Kienholz continue to work hard in backup roles, with both players giving great looks for Jim Knowles' defense when called upon to do so.

On Tristan Gebbia

  • "Tristan has done a great job."
  • "He understands the game."
  • Dennis said Gebbia has been like another coach in the quarterback room because of the experience he brings from stops at previous schools.

On Ohio State's quarterbacks making routine plays

  • "The cool thing about Ohio State is that we have great skill across the board."
  • "You have to take what the defense gives you."
  • Dennis reiterated a motto that Day has said frequently in 2023: "You have to make the routine plays routinely."

Ryan Day Lightning Round

  • On whether you can motivate a player to become more violent: “I think everyone can always get pushed to do better in all those areas. ... We’re all going to play fast and violent and with high intensity. Everything is getting ratcheted up this week, that’s just how it goes.”
  • The most important “non-football” thing that Day saw that gave him confidence in Kyle McCord has been his leadership. The team is responding to McCord, Day said.
  • Josh Proctor will be available and “play a lot” this week at free safety, Day said, though the team still plans to rotate at the position.
  • Reaching 22.2 miles per hour on his first touchdown reception last week, Day feels Marvin Harrison Jr.’s speed is at a high level. “He has top-end speed, he does. When he decides to really open it up on big plays like that, he can go for sure.”
  • On Ja’Had Carter: “He watched the film and knows there’s some things he’s got to improve on. ... We know that there’s talent there because we saw it when he was at Syracuse. ... Hopefully he takes the next step this week.”
  • Western Kentucky’s air raid and “fearless” quarterback Austin Reed will be a great test for Ohio State’s secondary and defensive line, Day said. “It’s a great challenge for our defense.”
  • On Josh Fryar: “He hasn’t started very many games, but I think that’s the next step for Josh is to take that leadership role, because he does have some of those traits. ... I think Josh has a chance to be a leader and be that voice that we need when we get into these very competitive environments.”
  • Day feels Ohio State’s running back rotation has “been good” and that all have run the ball well in spots. “That’s a big part of everything that we’re doing right now, is just running downhill, playing physical, running through contact.”
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