Ryan Day Says Justin Fields’ First Touchdown Pass to Chris Olave in 2020 Sugar Bowl is His Favorite Play Call With the Buckeyes

By Chase Brown on July 8, 2024 at 10:36 am
Ryan Day and Justin Fields

Since he arrived on Ohio State's campus in 2017, Ryan Day has called thousands of plays for the Buckeyes. One stands out above the rest.

In the latest episode of "Big Noon Conversations" with Joel Klatt, the FOX college football analyst asked Day, who relinquished head playcalling duties to new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly this offseason, to share his best or favorite play call across his seven years in Columbus.

Day's initial answer was comedic.

"C.J. (Stroud) and Jaxon (Smith-Njigba) were so on fire in that Rose Bowl. Everything was working," Day said with a laugh. "I don't even think I was looking at the call sheets because (Stroud) was so hot in that game."

Following some more reflection, Day's mind traveled to Ohio State's win over Clemson in the 2020 Sugar Bowl. He recalled the massive hit Justin Fields took from James Skalski — one that resulted in the Clemson linebacker's ejection. Day said the play immediately after was his favorite play call with the Buckeyes.

"Justin was in the tent, and he had that look in his eye like he was not going to come out of that game," Day said. "He grew up down the street from (Clemson quarterback) Trevor Lawrence. They'd go back and forth and back and forth. We lost to him the year before. Justin had that look in his eye all offseason.

"So we put him back in and ran a rollout pass to the right. It was a stutter comeback to Chris Olave. I felt like if we got him on the run, cause he's such a good athlete, we may be able to throw that to him and just will it in there, and he did. After we threw the touchdown pass, he literally just kept running back into the tent. I don't remember what went on in there, but I remember that clearly. He was just such a competitive guy."

At the end of the conversation, Klatt shared his favorite play call from Day: A 20-yard completion from Dwayne Haskins to K.J. Hill in the 2018 Michigan game.

"You were killing them with crossing routes," Klatt said. "They were trying to rock the safeties. ... You did it a couple of times. They were trying to rock the safeties down there. You were killing them. You run it again, and K.J. Hill slams on the brakes and runs a stop and back out, and they still rocked the safeties. You threw it to K.J. Hill, and he ran down the rails. I was in the booth, and I was like, 'Man, that was a great play call."

"And that wasn't in the game plan," Day responded. "Most teams won't cut it post-snap. They were doing that. But we called the same play, and we called it 'Pivot' as opposed to the 'Mesh' play. I give those guys a lot of credit because they were able to put it on the field without really practicing that week. But yeah, that was a good feeling there."

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