Eleven warriors met with the media on Wednesday night.
With Ohio State coming off a bye week and preparing to play Maryland in its fifth game of the season on Saturday, the Buckeyes offered up enough players to field a lineup at this week’s player interviews as running back Chip Trayanum, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., tight end Cade Stover, offensive tackle Josh Fryar, defensive tackles Mike Hall and Tyleik Williams, linebacker Steele Chambers, cornerback Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock and safeties Josh Proctor and Lathan Ransom all spent time speaking with reporters.
Among the many topics of interest in Wednesday night’s Q&As, Trayanum reflected on his game-winning touchdown against Notre Dame, Harrison talked about the health of his ankle and the defenders discussed the challenge of going up against Taulia Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense.
RB Chip Trayanum
- Trayanum said that while his game-winning touchdown run against Notre Dame was a special moment, he’s tried to stay grounded because he wants more of those moments. “The first thing I told Coach Alford that following Monday was that having that moment is great and all, but I didn’t come to Ohio State to have one moment, I came here to have many moments. So I’m just using that as motivation just to keep striving and keep pushing to greatness.”
- Trayanum believes he’s able to be more of a leader now because he’s now made a big impact in a game. He said he expected to be a leader when he arrived at Ohio State, “I believe at a university like this, when you come to a school like Ohio State, you either rise to be an alpha among the group of other alphas or like you kind of get diminished at the bottom.”
- He wasn’t aware that Notre Dame had only 10 defenders on the field on his touchdown run. “I don’t think nobody was aware until we all got on our phones after we went into the locker room when the game was over.”
- Told that Harrison called him “one of the most respected players” on the team, Trayanum replied, “Marv said that about me? I appreciate that a lot … Just seeing his work ethic, like all the wide receivers’ work ethics, that type of stuff makes you want to grind harder.”
- Asked if his touchdown run validates his decision to transfer to Ohio State, Trayanum said “It definitely does.”
- He said he’s watched the replay of the touchdown run “a lot,” but he’s watched the video of the team running onto the field to celebrate even more.
- What would happen if Ohio State decided to do the quarterback sneak where everyone on the offense pushes the quarterback? “I’m pushing him all the way in there,” Trayanum said.
WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
- Harrison said his ankle injury is worse than the one he suffered last year, but “it’s good enough” for him to continue playing. He said he gave no thought to sitting out to preserve himself after the injury: “That didn’t even cross my mind one time. I was just trying to win the game.” He said he is being cautious during the week of practice to ensure he is as healthy as he can be for Saturday.
- Harrison said Kyle McCord has been the same guy no matter where he’s been on the depth chart, so everyone had confidence in him going into his game-winning drive against Notre Dame.
- Having known McCord since they were high school teammates, Harrison said it was “special” to see McCord have that moment after waiting his turn behind C.J. Stroud for two years. “I was just really super proud of him.”
- Harrison said Maryland’s secondary was the best Ohio State went up against all season last year. Specifically, he said Deonte Banks – who was selected in the first round of this past year’s NFL draft – was the best cornerback he went up against all year. While Banks is no longer there, Harrison expects a challenge from Maryland’s secondary again this year because they’re “well-coached” and “have a lot of talent, a lot of depth.”
- Harrison said he has faced bracket coverage “here and there” dating back to last season, but Notre Dame did it consistently.
- On Chip Trayanum: “He’s a team-first kind of guy. He can do whatever we need him to do as a team to help us win. So I respect Chip a lot because he’s one of the most respected players on our program.”
- Harrison said he was grabbed a lot by Notre Dame’s defensive backs, but they “did it very strategically” to avoid drawing penalties. “Kudos to them.”
DT Tyleik Williams
- On how they’ll attack Taulia Tagovailoa with a coordinated pass rush: “We can’t get undisciplined with our rush lanes. We know he likes to scramble and make plays with his legs. We’re trying to limit that as much as possible.
- On how much film from last year helps preparation: “It helps a lot. Knowing what he’s going to do already having played him last year. (Taulia) basically does the same thing, he’s just more agile now that he doesn’t have his brace on.”
- On how difficult it is to limit Taulia: “He’s a great athlete, so he’s going to make plays regardless. So we’ve got to try and limit those the best we can.”
- On how he’s felt he’s played the first four games of the year: “I think I’ve done more because I’ve had more reps. But honestly I don’t think I’m anywhere near where I should be because of my knee and all that.”
- On why he’s earning more reps: “I think I’m showing it in practice and getting the trust of the coaches.”
- Williams jokingly said he needs to get on the Monarc machine with Marvin Harrison Jr. after dropping a potential interception against Notre Dame.
- On Mike Hall: “Mike is still the same Mike. Teams know what he can do now so they’re sliding to him. They’re double teaming him every play. Production is going to go down when they’re keying on you already.”
CB Denzel Burke
- Burke said that he was “most definitely” a little bored after being targeted only one time in the Buckeyes’ win against Notre Dame.
- On staying alert on the field at all times when he’s not getting targeted: “Especially playing cornerback, you have to stay locked it every play. You never know when that ball is going to come your way, man. Even though I didn’t get targeted it was still fun being at Notre Dame and playing in that environment with my brothers.”
- On not being targeted by teams: “At the end of the day I want them to come at me man, I want production. I want to have fun and at the same time be able to make plays on the ball and make the crowd go crazy.”
- On if he expects he’ll be targeted this weeked: “Oh yeah, definitely. We’re playing a good team this weekend. Hopefully they throw my way.”
- Burke said that Maryland’s passing attack is probably the best he’s faced so far this season in addition to Western Kentucky.
- On what stands out to him about Maryland’s offense: “Their quarterback. He can extend plays. He throws the ball on a rope. He’s a great player and their receivers are solid.
- Burke said Davision Igbinosun is probably the most physical cornerback that has played opposite of him in his OSU tenure. “He’s probably the only one I’ve seen who actually runs to the contact. You’ll see a whole pile of guys on the ball carrier and he’s the last one just jumping on them,” Burke said.
- On what he feels the standard is regarding bringing BIA back: “No explosive plays. Dominating the guy in front of you. Doing your job, being accountable and making the routine plays routine.
- Burke said he’s not satisfied with anything OSU has done so far this year because “the goal is to win championships” and for that to happen, “it’s going to take a lot. Sky’s the limit.”
RT Josh Fryar
- On his assessment of Ohio State’s run game thus far: “The running game will come, we’ve just got to get better. We’ve got to work our fit and fall back on our technique. Those are the two key things that will improve the run game.”
- Efficiency in short-yardage has “always been crucial” for the Buckeyes, Fryar said, though the Buckeyes give emphasis to it “as much as anything else in practice. “Short-yardage, third down, two-minute (drill), 1st-and-10, everything is crucial. I think we make a big emphasis on it, too.”
- On what he’s seeing on the plays that aren’t working: “I think it’s just technique. Technique between the offensive line. But it was our first big-time game, matchup game against Notre Dame. You’re going to have those plays where they’re going to get you and you’re going to get them.”
- Fryar didn’t realize until sometime after the game that the Fighting Irish only had 10 men on the field. The absent defensive end was on the opposite side of the line from him. “Me and Matt (Jones) were looking to get the play and then try to run it and we did.”
- Left guard Donovan Jackson and left tackle Josh Simmons, playing the side where the lineman was missing for Notre Dame, did realize it right away, though, Fryar said. “We were expecting a certain front and they knew (instantly), ‘Where’s the guy to cover this guy?’”
CB Jordan Hancock
- On the challenge of defending Tagovailoa’s mobility: “It puts a lot of strain on us because he’s an explosive quarterback. He can extend plays, but we’re going to have to plaster in the back end and keep our eyes in the right position.”
- This year’s defense feels different from last year because of the knowledge that every player has of the scheme, Hancock said. There are also a lot more “checks” because of that knowledge.
- On Maryland's offense: “They’re going to test us vertically. A lot of RPOs.”
- Hancock feels he has a different level of confidence this season now that he’s got a few games under his belt. “I always believed in myself, but I feel like this year it’s taken a huge jump because I know I can play inside, outside, any position. I’m just happy and my confidence is through the roof right now.”
- On the impact of he and cornerback Davison Igbinosun’s physicality: “It sets a tone. When you see a skinnier guy, when the D-line sees a smaller guy hit somebody, it sets a tone. The momentum shifts to us.”
- When a team elects to avoid targeting Denzel Burke, Hancock views it as a challenge to lock down his side of the field, too. “Denzel, with him doing his job on the other side, for us, that’s more play opportunities for us to make our names and put us on the scene.”
DT Mike Hall
- On the biggest challenge of facing Taulia Tagovailoa: “Really just him getting out of the pocket and creating throws on the run in the gap. We’ve got to really focus on that. We’ve faced similar quarterbacks so we’ve got to take care of business on Saturday.”
- On Ohio State’s pass rush so far this year: “We really don’t focus on stats. We really just focus on collapsing the pocket and making it uncomfortable for the quarterback. I feel like we’re doing a great job of that. That stats don’t show it, but the tape shows it.”
- On Tyleik Williams’ impact: “I will say he really sets the tone. If you go back to that first game, he started it off with a (tackle for loss). He set the tone for the whole game. But it was really good to see him shine and make improvements.”
- On where he feels OSU’s defensive line needs to step up in the last eight games: “I would say just getting off the ball a little bit faster and our pursuit. Really just chasing the quarterback sideline to sideline.
- Hall said the week off benefited him and says he feels like he “definitely has his legs” underneath him and felt fresh after Wednesday’s practice.
S Lathan Ransom
- On how making key stops against Notre Dame has elevated Ohio State as a defense: “It definitely feels good. Coach Day stressed since we came back way back in the winter, just about situations. That’s all we’ve been studying for, winning the situations.”
- Maryland’s offense “does a good job” of moving the ball around and presenting the defense with different looks, Ransom said.
- On Taulia Tagovailoa’s mobility: “Discipline is always the main thing, but it comes in different ways depending on the team we play. He does a great job of scrambling, extending plays. So it’s something we’ve been focusing on, trying to limit that.”
- On he and Sonny Styles’ 4th-and-1 stop of Sam Hartman on a quarterback sneak: “I just appreciate Coach Knowles and Coach Eliano basically giving us the look before we got it. We were literally in the walk-through the morning before, talking about, ‘If this happens, then this will happen. Luckily that’s the look we got and we just executed like we were coached.”
- Another year in Jim Knowles’ scheme is paying dividends for the Buckeyes, Ransom said. “We’re able to just fly around, more comfortable in what we do, all on the same page, all communicating on a very high level.”
- On the Notre Dame game: “Very physical. Hats off to Notre Dame, one of the best atmospheres I’ve played in. Did a great job with the noise, the lights. It was super physical, but we’ve been competing with the offense sense camp, since the spring. It’s been physical here.”
TE Cade Stover
- When asked if he understands he’s on pace to have one of the best seasons ever as a receiver in the Ohio State tight end room, Stover said, “I haven’t really paid any attention to it. … I’ll take what I can get.”
- As for what has allowed him to make such a significant leap as a receiver in 2023, Stover said, “Coach (Keenan Bailey) has been a big help, as always. Sean Binckes, our GA here, is an awesome, awesome dude. He’s gonna be a really, really good coach someday. Every night, he’s out here catching balls with me, teaching me to play the game. He’s helped me a lot.”
- Stover credits his toughness to “the way I was raised.” He added: “You are who you are. You are what you have done. That’s how I was raised my entire life.”
- On what stands out about Maryland’s defense: “They are long, athletic, play fast. We’re excited for the challenge.”
- On Kyle McCord: “Every week, you see that kid grow up and get better and better. You see a more polished, more experienced product.”
LB Steele Chambers
- On if he has noticed that Denzel Burke, Davison Igbinosun and Jordan Hancock have played physical this season. “Absolutely. Sometimes you take a blocker and see a bullet run past you… It’s amazing seeing how physical they have been.”
- On how Ohio State will defend Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa: “It’s about being assignment sound. We know that he likes to get out of the pocket. … We know that he likes to use his feet. … You have to be able to play longer. He can extend plays.”
- Chambers said Ohio State is “well-equipped” to defend quarterbacks who can extend plays. “You’ve got Coach Knowles up in the owl’s nest cooking up whatever concoction he wants to. We have a bunch of athletic players who chase people down, so I think that’s the perfect combination.”
- On Chip Trayanum finding success after transitioning from linebacker to running back at Ohio State: “It’s no surprise. Everyone was all surprised when he scored that touchdown, but everyone in this facility knew that was gonna happen. He comes in and puts the work in every single day. That’s something we knew was gonna happen.”
- Chambers said he knew Trayanum would be a good running back “as soon as he switched.”
- On Tommy Eichenberg and his performance against Notre Dame: “We played pretty bad. I mean, we take responsibility for everything that happened in that game as far as scores and whatnot. … That’s on us. We have to play a lot better.” Chambers said he and Eichenberg “have to be a lot more laser-focused” when Ohio State faces tougher opponents on its schedule.
S Josh Proctor
- Proctor said Ohio State’s defense learned a lot about itself in fall camp. “During camp, we wanted to really sit back and see what we could do better as a unit.” As for where the Buckeyes improved the most in August, Proctor said, “Being physical and being tough.”
- On whether being in the second season of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ system has helped the Buckeyes this season: “I think so. We are able to play fast. We can do our jobs. We are able to play physical.”
- Proctor on Lathan Ransom: “It’s another guy to bring that dawg mentality. He is one of those guys that you know will bring it every play. Every chance he gets.”
- Having a “dawg mentality” means to be “relentless,” Proctor said. “Relentless in everything that you do.”
- Proctor said Ohio State secondary coach Tim Walton, safeties coach Perry Eliano and the Buckeyes’ defensive backs have told Davison Igbinosun that he may be a little too physical from time to time, but Proctor sees that as a good thing. “We tell him in practice, but Davison is gonna be Davison.”
- Proctor said Ohio State’s defense has strived for competitive excellence in 2023. When asked to name specific players that have stood out in that way, Proctor said, “I feel like it’s not just one person. We may show it in different ways, but we all have that mentality, especially in the game.”