Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Hopes to Get All of Ohio State's Injured Contributors Back This Week, Discusses Penn State's "Very, Very Good" Defense

By Andy Anders on October 17, 2023 at 12:40 pm

There was a different aura about the Woody Hayes Athletic Center as Ryan Day took to the lectern for his weekly Tuesday press conference.

No. 7 Penn State comes to town for a pivotal conference showdown in four days. Day feels that the Nittany Lions challenge the Buckeyes with a "very, very good" defense featuring NFL talents at defensive end and a "poised" quarterback.

Day also said he hopes to get all Ohio State's injured contributors back this week and that he's made a point to coach his players harder this season.

Following Day's session, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles took the lectern and discussed Penn State's methodical offensive approach and why he feels confident with Jermaine Mathews filling in for Denzel Burke at corner.

Ryan Day

  • On Kyle McCord not turning the football over and making mistakes when he's under pressure: "The No. 1 most important thing is the football. It's going to be this weekend. ... Let's not make bad plays any worse. That's all part of playing the position."
  • Ryan Day says Ohio State's players "understand" what the Penn State game will be and the "intensity" required to get a win.
  • On the extra use of motion against Purdue: "Every week we want to keep adding more and growing. There's give-and-take to everything you do." That "give and take" is that it changes the picture for both the offense and the defense, Day said.
  • On Drew Allar and his initial recruitment: "He's an Ohio kid who had a great career. We already had Quinn Ewers committed to us, and at that point. ... He's done a good job in his first year. He's had poised, he's a big, strong quarterback who leads the team well."
  • Ohio State will try to build confidence through preparation this week, Day said. "You're trying to build the confidence up, and you're trying to challenge everybody, but certainly Kyle, to grow in certain areas."
  • On Penn State's defense: "They're a very very good defense. ... These guys have played before and some veteran guys on that side of the ball."
  • "When you're in games like this, it can come down to one play. ... The consequences are higher, the stakes are higher."
  • On Dallan Hayden: "I thought once he got through the line of scrimmage, he got up to the safeties. ... You saw his feet move in the hole and that was great, especially for someone who hasn't played this year."
  • Day said he's "hopeful" all of the team's key injured players can return this week.
  • Day wants fans to arrive early and create as loud of an environment as possible to mess with Penn State's offensive communication. "This is one of those games, we've got to create a hostile environment."
  • On "Emeka, we all know the production that Emeka's had and the impact that he's had on our offense the last couple of years. ... Xavier, he's very versatile ... you've got to figure out a way to get it done."
  • Xavier Johnson's versatility "He became a great special teams player over the course of his career. So he's a really great football player fundamentally."
  • Ohio State isn't sure whether Hayden will still redshirt after his usage against Purdue. "We're still going to do what we think is best to win every game. ... When that decision has to be made, we'll make that decision. But that decision doesn't have to be made right now."
  • On the team's new red-zone package with Devin Brown: "When you get down into those type of situations, the numbers start to work against you on offense, and when you add the quarterback in it can change those numbers. ... He isn't just a running quarterback, but he is big, strong, athletic and competitive. ... I thought he ran hard, I thought he competed. I hope he definitely learned his lesson there (on the fumble)."
  • On the team's quarterback sneak on a 3rd-and-1 play: "There are pluses and minuses to everything that you do. We don't just have one or two plays in those situations ... we felt like that was a good moment to get that right there and get that first down."
  • On the Buckeyes' pass protection: "This will be the biggest challenge to date. They're very twitchy, very quick. They get after the quarterback at a high level. Both (defensive) ends are NFL players for sure."
  • Day said his more passionate, in-your-face coaching style this season as compared to others is intentional. "I think this team likes to get coached hard. They do. This is a great team that can get pushed and they respond well. This is a tough game ... it's my job to bring it every Saturday and push as hard as I can."
  • On McCord running the ball: "It was good to see him get that pull, you can see that he's capable. ... If we can add that to our game, that can help us a lot."
  • On whether there's still a mystery to just how good his team is: "You could probably say that for a lot of teams across the country. ... I think we've certainly learned a little bit about the quarterback, we've learned about some guys that we didn't know about before the season."
  • The Notre Dame win gives Ohio State "a little bit of a barometer" for its team in 2023 and gave the Buckeyes "confidence," but Day noted that the game against Penn State will be an entirely different affair.
  • On Brown: "I liked the look in his eye, I liked his competitiveness, he's got to learn from that mistake."

Jim Knowles

  • Knowles is confident in Jermain Mathews' abilities if Denzel Burke can't play, saying he likes the freshman's competitiveness and "moxie."
  • On what's wrong with being a bend-but-don't-break defense: "I don't know. I just don't like the way it sounds. ... Stop rate is so important. No matter where you are on the field, you have to stop points, prevent points."
  • Winning third downs and creating negative plays will be important to slow a methodical Penn State offense, Knowles said. "Their time of possession is awesome, and I think most red zone plays in the country. The challenging part is getting them off-schedule. ... So you try to knock them off, try to get them behind the sticks."
  • Comparing Steele Chambers and Cody Simon: "They're neck-and-neck. ... (Simon)'s earned the time and he's very competitive at that position. ... Cody brings an added dimension in the run game, because he's more of a Mike-linebacker type. ... Steele brings a stronger athleticism, seems to be able to make more plays in the pass game and cover space."
  • Ohio State will play "both" traditional three-linebacker sets and utilize Sonny Styles as a pseudo-third linebacker against certain formations.
  • On how to defend Drew Allar: "You've got to challenge receivers in the intermediate area. He's really good at those passes. You have to be able to put some pressure on him, present different looks to him."
  • On Penn State running backs Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton: "They hit the hole, and then they have the ability to bounce. ... The film shows that they're really good and they'll be a force to contend with."
  • More on Mathews: "He's one of those guys that has a lot of energy. ... He was able to step in there and compete against some of the best players in the country."
  • On Kayden McDonald: "He's a guy that we wanted to look at if we have the chance, and he seems to be a real force inside. And he plays with a high motor. ... He has a chance to work his way into the lineup."
  • Knowles said there are play calls that allow JT Tuimoloau to pin his ears back in the defensive scheme. "We like to let JT play, because you've seen him come up with big plays in the big moments."
  • More on Simon: "What happens in practice is the ones get most of the reps, so we had to keep looking at our own rotation to ensure that he got more and more opportunities in practice. And he earned (playing time)."
  • Knowles feels Jack Sawyer's lack of production earlier this season was more a matter of quarterbacks getting the ball out quick, and is happy to see he's coming along. "Jack's always been there, he's close."
  • On Davison Igbinosun and Mathews playing more boundary corner and the requirements of that spot: "More isolation to the boundary, more press to the boundary, more help to the field. ... Things happen a lot faster into the boundary. ... Davison is long, he's aggressive against the run. ... Jermaine is just, he's got moxie. Said it like three times. He's a guy that you know is going to compete in those one-on-one situations."
  • On what sets Tyleik Williams apart: "He's got that never-gets-down, really positive attitude. Combined with athleticism. That's the biggest thing with Tyleik I'd say is athleticism."
  • On the whirlwind going through his mind as he prepares for Penn State: "Stop everything. Prepare for everything. Have answers for everything."
  • On Jordan Hancock: "The fact that he embraced the move into nickel, then you saw us being able to put him back at corner ... it's given us a lot of confidence to be able to move him back and forth."
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