Skull Session: Marcus Freeman is "Excited" For Ohio State Matchup, Joel Klatt Believes National Media is "Hard" On the Buckeyes and Harry Miller is a Champion For Change

By Chase Brown on September 19, 2023 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day
Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Ohio State's offense had one helluva week!

Let's have a good Tuesday, shall we?

 HE SAID ALL THE RIGHT THINGS. Marcus Freeman impressed me on Monday.

For starters, Freeman's white sweater and green blazer combo looked excellent – a real GQ look that few coaches could pull off – and made me wonder what Ryan Day will wear in his Tuesday press conference (he'll probably settle for a black Ohio State polo).

But more than his attire, it impressed me that, after several instances of shoving his foot in his mouth last summer, Freeman was smart when asked about his team's top-10 matchup with Ohio State. The Notre Dame head coach was calm, cool and collected. He never offered the Buckeyes bulletin board material days before their trip to South Bend, Indiana, on Saturday.

Below is a video of Freeman's press conference and some comments the former Ohio State linebacker and GA made about his alma mater before the Buckeyes and Irish clash this weekend:

On Ohio State being Notre Dame's first test (2:45)

"We have a great opponent coming in. We're excited about the chance to go up against a top-tier opponent. And we're excited about the atmosphere, the experience that will be here with College GameDay and the Pat McAfee Show and NBC. We'll finally wear the green uniforms. ... I think it will be a cool opportunity, a great opportunity on Saturday night to play a great opponent in Notre Dame Stadium. ... I'm looking forward to seeing Ryan Day again. He's done an unbelievable job leading that program. We know it's gonna be a really good opponent with a great coaching staff. We're looking forward to that."

On Ohio State's offense (9:35)

"You've seen their offense evolve over the first three games. It's explosive. You see a lot of tempo. I've seen more tempo recently. They have playmakers. They can run the ball. They have a stable of running backs that truly can do some things in the run game.

"I'm sure Coach Day is extremely involved in the offense. And (Brian) Hartline's done a great job. They find ways to be innovative. You can look back as far as since Ryan Day's been at Ohio State until now. It's a very innovative offense that will find different ways to get their playmakers the ball. It all starts with the run game. They want to run the ball, a very similar mindset to what I have. The ability to run the ball will create openings in the pass game."

On Ohio State's defensive line, JT Tuimoloau (11:17)

"It's impressive. They've got guys and it's deep and they rotate a lot of guys in there. And so 44 is an impressive player. He's big, he's powerful, he's explosive – all those big words that you'd like to say about your D-linemen. He's got a lot of those traits. But they've got a bunch of guys that are really disruptive. So we have to be good up front. We've got to make sure we're good at the line of scrimmage."

Sure sounds like Freeman is ready for a battle in the land of "God. Country. Football."

I am, too.

As of 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the kickoff between Ohio State and Notre Dame is in four days, 14 hours and 30 minutes, and I will be counting down the seconds until either Jayden Fielding or Spencer Shrader's boot slams into the ball at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

 "THEY'RE IN A LOSE-LOSE ALL THE TIME." I don't mean to make the Skull Session a weekly platform for The Joel Klatt Show; however, the Fox Sports college football analyst and commentator has dished out some #truth about the Buckeyes the past two weeks, so it feels appropriate to include his content in the column.

Klatt's most recent message about Ohio State came on Monday, explaining how "hard" Ohio State fans – and, to an even greater extent, the national media – are on the Buckeyes, no matter if the team performs well or performs poorly on Saturdays.

Have a listen or a read (or both!):

"They're in a lose-lose all the time. Because if they look great, we say, 'Well, that's what they should do.' If they struggle or look sluggish at all, we hammer them for it. ... Their fan base, man, they are hard on that program. And the national media is hard on that program. This is a team that's 3-0. They're breaking in a new quarterback, and he is looking better and better and played his best game last week.

"(But) Imagine a scenario where Kyle McCord goes out and throws three bad interceptions (like J.J. McCarthy), and Ohio State is in a dogfight in the second quarter up 7-6 on Bowling Green (like Michigan was). We'd never let him hear the end of it. But with Michigan, it's like, 'Yeah, that's fine. They're still number two.' Nobody has talked about that. Nobody. Imagine a scenario where Ohio State goes on the road to the equivalent of Boston College in the Big Ten – I don't know, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana – and imagine they are in a dogfight late. And Boston College, or the team Ohio State is facing, has chance after chance to win the game. That team has 18 penalties. Ohio State escapes. We'd be talking about how the sky is falling in Columbus. 

"This is why it's so difficult to be Ryan Day, Kyle McCord or Brian Hartline. The level of scrutiny and perfection we throw on their back and the completely unrealistic expectations on a week-to-week basis. They have to win by 100, or else it's like, 'What's wrong with Ohio State?' Well, they won 63-10 and did it going away. Great defense. Offense looks good. One of the best offenses in the country, one of the best defenses, and we don't put them in the same box as everybody else. ... So I'm here to defend Ohio State."

Yes, the Buckeyes have a different standard than the rest of college football, but that's because of how dominant Ohio State has been since the program's inception in 1889, possessing the nation's best all-time win percentage (.733), the sixth-most national championships (eight), the fourth-most conference titles (39) and the sixth-most bowl game appearances (54) in 134 years of competition.

Like Coach Herman Boone in "Remember the Titans," Ohio State fans and the national media expect perfection each time the Buckeyes take the field. Is that unrealistic? Sure. But it's a reality Ohio State must live in.

That said... Beat Notre Dame.

 HARRY MILLER. CHAMPION. On Monday, former Ohio State baseball player and current CNN This Morning co-anchor Phil Mattingly featured Harry Miller in the network's new series, "Champions For Change."

In the five-minute video, which is included below, Miller shared with Mattingly his decision to make his battle with depression public. The former Ohio State offensive lineman also explained how Ryan Day, Charron Summer and several others have helped him move forward as a mental health advocate for those in need.

"He is changing lives," Day said in the video. "He is changing the culture of our entire program. ... He shared with me that he finds peace in helping people. He has such a bright future ahead of him."

He does, indeed.

Dum spiro spero.

 BUCK(S) OF THE WEEK. After each Ohio State win in 2023, Eleven Warriors will honor an offensive and defensive Buckeye with player of the game awards. This week, quarterback Kyle McCord and defensive tackle Tyleik Williams received our top honors.

Ohio State also shared its selections for the Buckeyes' offensive, defensive and special teams players of the game on Saturday. While Ohio State agreed with some of our selections after Week 1 and Week 2, the coaches went a different direction with their picks in Week 3, selecting running back TreVeyon Henderson, cornerback Denzel Burke and defensive end Caden Curry as the team's three honorees.

In addition to Henderson, Burke and Curry as the team's players of the game, McCord received the program's "Buck of the Week" honor for his 318-yard, two-touchdown performance on Saturday.

That's my quarterback.

Here was my favorite quote from the video: "I'm spoiled. Going out there with all those great options, it's really kind of pick and choose who you want to get the ball to and watch them work. Anytime I can get the ball to those guys in open space, good things always happen."

Hopefully, McCord can get the ball to those options on Saturday so that good things can happen. I like it when good things happen, especially in top-10 matchups.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Dreamin'" by Rayland Baxter.

 CUT TO THE CHASE. Former Columbus Zoo execs named in 89-count indictment, with multiple felony counts of theft and bribery... Gator with missing nose and upper jaw finds new home in Florida reptile park... ABC will air an additional 10 "Monday Night Football" games because of writers and actors strikes... NBA takes steps to try to ensure its star players appear in more games... Gardener in England grows nearly 20-pound onion.

Oh, and how about that Chris Olave dude? He's pretty good!

And as a reminder, here was Garrett Wilson's spectacular catch last week:

Ohio State wide receivers are built different.

P.S. Nicholas Jamaal Chub got hurt last night, and I am still incredibly numb. Please be nice to me in the comments – and hug a Browns fan today.

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