Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Says Emeka Egbuka Injury Isn't "Long-term," Ohio State is Preserving Dallan Hayden's Redshirt and "Execution" is Still What's Missing in Run Game

By Andy Anders on October 10, 2023 at 12:44 pm

Emeka Egbuka's status against Purdue is still unclear, but the good news is that his injury isn't anything "long-term," Ryan Day said at his press conference Tuesday.

Day also discussed the ongoing issues with Ohio State's run game and red zone offense and said the team is trying to preserve Dallan Hayden's redshirt, among other topics.

Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles addressed the media next, discussing

Ryan Day

  • On issues running the football: "I think we have the personnel to do it. ... We've just got to execute it better. We've got to coach it better, and that starts with me."
  • Day doesn't have an exact reason why Ohio State has struggled in West Lafayette. "I know it's been a difficult place to play, that's for sure. This team's no different. They have good players, they're well-coached."
  • It's "a possibility" that more is placed on Kyle McCord's shoulders as the running game still hasn't gotten going. "We're looking at everything right now."
  • On a slow start against Maryland Saturday: "I don't think the defense was slow. The first (touchdown) throw and catch (by Maryland) was unbelievable. ... We found our rhythm a little later on in the game for the offense."
  • On whether he's made adjustments to his philosophy as Knowles has: "I don't think, philosophically, we've changed anything. ... You try to find the right things that fit the guys at the time." Ohio State is going to "continue working" on downhill runs while also trying to be explosive, Day said.
  • On maintaining focus during a long stretch of conference play in October and November: "It's not about the team we're playing, it's always about us. We're just on a constant grind to get better. ... We knew this was going to be a long stretch, we talked about it during the bye week."
  • No specific updates on Emeka Egbuka's status, but "One thing I can tell you is it's not a long-term issue. ... We'll re-evaluate it as the week goes on."
  • More on running game struggles: "It's a little bit here, a little bit there. I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's one or two things."
  • Day isn't sure if Miyan Williams will see increased usage. "We'll see how that goes ... I thought he ran hard when he had his opportunity Saturday."
  • There's plenty of consideration as to how much to run wide zone plays out of pistol: "It's a constant conversation, and as you can imagine, it was brought up again this week. ... The one thing about the stretch play is it gets guys in space."
  • Ohio State wants to preserve a redshirt year for Dallan Hayden, which is why he hasn't played this year. "What we didn't want to do, in a situation where we have three running backs, we don't want to use a year of his eligibility. ... But Dallan is ready to go ... if it's appropriate, he will play."
  • Day said Ohio State has "good leadership" and that they bring a "calming presence" to the team. "I think that's going to pay off the next couple of months."
  • On Cade Stover: "He does a lot of the dirty work. He blocks, and because of that he creates pass and run conflicts. ... He's also run some really nice routes out in the open, dropback pass, but I think he's opened up the play action because of his work.
  • On being productive on first down: "We've got to get at least 4 yards ... it's a huge part of the offense and how it's called and how we do it."
  • Botched snaps like the one Ohio State had on punt in the first quarter against Maryland "can't happen" Day said. "Long snapper, kicker, punter, you don't have an opportunity to be wrong. ... Across the board, we need special teams to be an advantage for us."
  • Day feels Ohio State still needs to be able to run the ball and can't just rely on the passing game: "At the end of the day, you have to move the ball that's the bottom line. ... But it's going to rainy, it's going to be windy, you're not going to have the opportunity to line up four or five wide (receivers) and throw it all over the yard."
  • On red zone issues: "When I look at the one drive there, we called a screen, we knew we were getting zero coverage, the three-tech or 4i didn't quite rush the way we thought he would ... Kyle did a good job throwing the ball away, even if it was intentional grounding. ... I could kind of go through every play and recognize the areas, but we've just got to execute better."
  • On his thoughts about officiating in his team's games this year after having been issued multiple apologies from the Big Ten and some questionable calls from the side judge in Saturday's game against Maryland: "It's hard for me to say much, but I can tell you this, it's my job to advocate for the players and compete. ... I'm going to go as hard as I can to defend our players to ensure they have the best opportunity they can to be successful."
  • Day said that there are various lapses in hand placement and technique along the offensive line, but added that the offense also needs to support them better. "I always say execution fuels emotion ... I don't think they're not playing hard."
  • On Josh Proctor: "That's a guy that's been through a lot. Lathan and Josh both, a lot of different leg injuries and things they've been through. But that's what makes life great. ... That's the best part about coaching, is to help young men work through that adversity. ... You have to win every game. If you don't, they're going to find a different coach. But that's not why you coach, "
  • On whether it's possible that it's a talent issue on the offensive line: "I don't know if that's possible for me to say, because I believe in our guys and I do believe we have enough to win every game."
  • On the defense: "They're playing faster, they're seeing it. But the challenge is that they've got to bring it every week."
  • On the challenges that Purdue presents: "Quarterback is good. (Hudson) Card's got a good arm. ... They can be explosive. ... It's a Big Ten road game in October, you know how that can go."

Jim Knowles

  • On how the linebackers are playing: "I think they're playing well. Can always do better, but they understand the defense. They're managing things well."
  • Jack Sawyer is "doing everything" the coaches are asking him to do, Knowles said. "He's strong at the point of attack ... he's one of 11 we can count on right now."
  • On what makes JT Tuimoloau a good run defender: "He's strong enough at the point of attack, but he's also athletic enough to maneuver in the trenches. ... And he's also football smart. He's really a complete player."
  • Caden Curry brings a different element when he's on the field, Knowles feels. "He's a guy who plays with his hair on fire. He plays above his measurables. ... Maybe he doesn't have the height or weight, he's a guy who will just fly around."
  • On whether he's getting the snaps he wants for certain players: "That's a rotation up front that Coach (Larry) Johnson works on ... there's no exact number (of snaps). You really have to go on what's happening in the game."
  • While Maryland made some catches downfield one-on-one against Sonny Styles in the slot, Knowles still feels confident with his star sophomore in man coverage. "I thought Sonny did fine in man coverage. In terms of the blitz, he's a weapon. I'm always looking for ways to use him that will surprise the offense."
  • Mike Hall and Ty Hamilton offer a lot to the pass rush with their quickness and strength, Knowles said. "Certainly, those guys can change the game with a quick rush from the inside."
  • On Tyleik Williams: "Being healthy, being able to use his athletic ability, understanding offense. ... The more reps he gets, he's just picking things up and seeing things more."
  • On why C.J. Hicks isn't playing more: "Great kid, excellent athletic ability. We're getting a lot of veteran knowledge and production at the position, the people that are in front of him. ... He's learning every day."
  • Knowles is trying to strike a balance between using Styles in myriad ways and focusing his attention for his development. "You're seeing some of those things come out week to week, and we're employing them. ... We made a decision with Sonny to focus him on that nickel/sam/strike, whatever you want to call it, combo player. ... We try to keep those experimental concepts to a minimum to just let him grow at that position."
  • On whether Proctor's interception exemplifies his new less-blitz-heavy, more knowledge-based approach this season: "That's a great example. That's exactly what we aim to do more this year, is that disguise and create that indecision by the quarterback and be able to jump different routes in different ways. That one was perfectly executed and not-so-badly designed either."
  • Tommy Eichenberg made multiple checks that really helped Ohio State's defense as he continues to be its quarterback, Knowles said. "He's always been really smart and figures things out."
  • On if there's any concern with playing defensive linemen too many snaps: "We have to win every game that we play, so we have to make sure that our best players are in there when they need to be."
  • Cody Simon has earned his increase in reps, Knowles said.
  • On Kenyatta Jackson Jr.: "Kenyatta is ready to go, he can play as much as we need him."
  • On how his new approach feels when he's calling a game: "It felt right. Like I said before, these are things that you go through alone, in my office, late at night. ... So yeah, it feels right."
  • Knowles isn't satisfied with where the defense is at, even if their numbers are good through five games. "I never feel comfortable. It's just a case of what's working, what do we need to get better at? What's the next play? ... It's a constant evaluation, a constant adjustment. But it's never feeling comfortable, or my job is never letting anybody else feel comfortable.
  • On Card: "Strong arm. Really impressed with his arm. Makes all the throws. Athletic enough to scramble and hurt you. I don't know if we'll ever face one like we faced last week ... but he moves well."
  • Knowles' evaluation of the defense's performance Saturday: "We won. We contained what had been an explosive offense. ... I can go back and look at plays where they didn't work, when you look at things from my perspective, there's always things to improve and get better at. ... But we did enough to win and contain an explosive offense."
  • On what Purdue's offense does well: "Third downs. They're 33rd in the country, I think, they've got a very high conversion rate. ... They have the concepts in their offense that's well run, that if you let them get going, you can get behind the sticks."
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