Everything Ryan Day said on Tuesday
Ryan Day held his first press conference since the postgame address after the loss to Oregon. The Ohio State head coach talked mostly about his defense and changes that could be coming. Here is everything Day said to reporters on Tuesday.
After watching the film against Oregon, what was your biggest concern defensively?
“Well, I mean, giving up too many yards and too many points. That’s the bottom line. I think now it’s not just a single game, it’s a little bit of a pattern. Took a long, hard look the last 48 hours at everything that’s going on and certainly going to make some adjustments here, not only of how we’re attacking other offenses, but also just structurally how we’re doing our day to day operations.”
Do you have any personnel adjustments at safety?
“Sure, we’re looking at all that to try to make some adjustments. Losing Josh (Proctor) for the whole year kind of changes things and we’ll have to make some adjustments. Bryson (Shaw) has had some good snaps in there, but we’re gonna have to take a look at what gives us the best chance moving forward and maybe possibly trying some guys at different spots is things we’re looking at.”
From an offensive perspective, things have gotten off to a slow start. How much of that is CJ Stroud trying to settle in and how much maybe is some play calling at the beginning of the game?
“I think when you look at the first two games, certainly the Minnesota game, to have 35 points in the last 22 plays and then last week having over 600 yards of total offense, we got a really good scheme, really good plays. I think in both of those situations, both of those games, you know we have to finish off drives better. This week we didn’t convert on fourth down and we got off schedule on some penalties and that really hurt us, especially in the score zone, we got down there, I want to say three times and got false start penalties. They got us into first or second and 15 and then didn’t convert on third down and then didn’t convert on fourth down. When things are cooking, we’ve really got an opportunity to be very, very explosive, which you’ve seen and so now, we got to do a better job of playing complimentary football and do a better job of finishing off those drives when we can.”
It seems like you guys are doing a good job when you’re running tempo. Do you feel like you have been doing that enough?
“Same as we’ve always been. If you look at the way that we’ve done it, very, very much like we’ve done it in the past. Again, when you look at the total yards of offense, you have over 600 yards against a very, very good defense, that’s not the issue. I thought we had really good tempo at times and we got in and out of the right plays, but when you’re not converting on fourth down, those count as turnovers and not finishing out drives is not good enough. So we have to run the ball better and we have to do a better job of finishing off drives. That’s just the bottom line. You know, looking back on it, probably could have maybe punted a few times and pooched early on and played a little bit more of the field position game, but it didn’t happen and moving forward we’ve got to do a better job of just finishing drives off. But moving the ball down the field, I think we’ve been doing an excellent job of that.”
Sevyn Banks hasn’t been listed on the status report, but he hasn’t played. Is there anything else going on there besides an injury?
“Yeah, nothing else.”
Finally got the news about Palaie Gaoteote last week. Last time we talked to you about him you had said he wasn’t really working with the first and second team in the preseason. Had that started to change at all and what sort of role do you see for him?
“It was similar, I think you saw on Saturday, he was with the defense and he was with those guys in the meetings and still getting reps throughout the week. Moving forward, it’s like you saw, the SAM linebacker spot, he’s a big body and he’s a good matchup in terms of athleticism, speed and size in bigger sets, especially with two tight ends in the game.”
Ryan Watts started the first game and Cavazos was fifth or sixth, then Lejend was playing a lot of snaps in the last game. How are you assessing the play from these younger guys at corner? Was Ryan available more on Saturday?
“I think what we’re doing is we’re just trying to take the snaps we’ve seen in the games and the snaps we’ve seen in practice and do the best we can to put the right guys out there. We like to play depth. We don’t like to play the same guys, obviously, for the entire game. Trying to find that balance is what we’re at right now. We’ve got to look at all those options. Like we’ve talked about before, is it personnel, is it coaching or is it scheme? Finding the right guys at the right spots is part of coaching and making sure that those guys are in those spots.”
Do you think that you are playing too many? It seems at linebacker it’s been difficult to establish consistency. Have you thought you need to pare that down and let the starters play more?
“I think if they’re playing at a high level, it wouldn’t be a question, but certainly because there hasn’t been consistency there, that’s something we’ve got to look into and make sure that, like you said, we’re not putting guys in there and not getting them enough reps and getting in the flow of the game. It’s like anything else. When it’s not working then you have to look at all those things. And if that’s what it is then we have to get it fixed and make sure that the right guys are in there for more snaps.”
Out of camp you seemed like linebacker was the spot you were most uncertain about. Did you anticipate this might be the case for the first couple weeks?
“I hoped not. But yes. That’s where we’re at right now.”
You said you might make some adjustments structurally on defense. Why did you feel comfortable not doing that before the season?
“Well, I think there was a lot of things coming into the season, coming off of last season, especially with COVID and everything like that, that was hard to identify exactly what the issues were or moving forward, I felt confident that we could get them fixed and addressed. When we made the adjustments to help in the pass game, certainly it wasn’t adjusted in the run game. A different issue, but the same outcome and so now here are and we’ve got to get some things fixed.”
There are a lot of teams that play Cover 1 and Cover 3, but not a lot of teams pre-rotate the safety. Is one simple adjustment to rotate after the snap rather than before the snap?
“There’s a lot of things to look at and we’re going to look at all those things and figure out what gives us the best chance.”
You’ve said a lot of times at Ohio State you can’t lose. We haven’t seen a loss that hasn’t ended the season for you guys. How do you respond to it?
“That’s the key. I think the great thing about something like this is two things. One, the issues that are there get exposed and you get a chance to really address them with this group. And then two, you find out a lot about a lot of people when adversity hits. You find out about their true character. It’s one thing when things are going well, people can be front-runners. They can pat you on the back, whether it’s inside the program or outside the program. But when something goes bad, you find out about who people are. That’s something, it’s called life and it’s a great opportunity for our guys to learn about that and grow and if we come out of this thing strong and grow, it can make us better and that’s what we have to use it for that type of thing to build some strength within us and build some leadership and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The last two losses have ended the season and you had to sit on that. Now having a chance to go out and play again is that better than spending the whole offseason thinking about it?
“No, I mean, you hate to sit on those type of things, but this loss doesn’t sit well at all. It’s something that we wanted to win this game, we had it circled for a long time and so we’re very disappointed. But like you said, we’re able to get back on the field within a week and start to get to work on getting things fixed.”
Coming off the 2018 loss to Maryland, Urban Meyer said the conversations were uncomfortable with the defensive staff. How would you characterize those conversations this week?
“Just honest. I wouldn’t say they’re uncomfortable. They’re real. You put on the film and if something doesn’t get fixed, it needs to get addressed. I have no problem having those type of conversations. It’s pretty simple to see what needs to get fixed.”
Has Denzel Burke been as good as you could have hoped for in his first couple of starts?
“I think that he’s shown in the game what he showed in practice. I thought that they went after him a couple times downfield and he did a really good job in that area. I think he’s got a very, very bright future. He’s like a lot of the younger guys we have out there, he’s doing everything for the first time. I think for a young player stepping into a couple of these spots, he’s done a good job. The future’s bright with him and a bunch of the younger guys that we have.”
You mentioned structural changes with the defense. Can you elaborate on what you’re thinking?
“No, I’d rather not. We are going to make some adjustments and changes. We have to, but I’d rather not get into all that right now.”
When did you come to that decision?
“After the game. The last 48 hours, just going through it. You want to act, you don’t want to overreact. You have to make sure that you do things the right way and you allow people to do their job, but when it gets to a certain point, you have to get things fixed. That’s what we’re gonna do.”
Is it a change in structure defensively from the standpoint of the coaching staff?
“I’d rather not get into that right now, but we’re looking at all those type of things.”
Does it hurt the most that these first two teams have run the ball as effectively as they have and what have you seen when you’re watching the video?
“I think when you come off of last year, the passing game was obviously the big issue. We were top ten in the country last year in stopping the run and made some adjustments to get it stopped on the back end and now we’re having a hard time on the run. Like I said, different issues, but the same outcome. So, that’s again, when you have to look at what is the issue? Is it the style we’re playing, is it the way we’re coaching it, is it the scheme? When you go in the offseason, you have time to make an adjustment and you think it’s right then you come into these games and you’re not getting it done, then there’s some bad assumptions made and bad changes. We’ve got to own that and move on.”
Is there one player on defense right now that you could point to that you think is playing well that others could follow?
“I think a lot of the guys have had very good snaps and there’s been flashes here and there and there’s been good things, but just consistency across the board right now is not where it needs to be.”
You like to play depth, but how do you balance plans to redshirt some players and balance that in general?
“If guys can help us, then they’re gonna play. If it gets to a point where we’re putting them in the game just to get them in the game, then, no, we won’t do that. But if we think they can help us win, then they’re going to play.”
Jesse Mirco, how do you assess his performance?
“Pretty good. He missed one of them, you know, but he also really got that one down on the one-yard line. Actually got two there that were pretty good. He’s done a good job. For a young kid in terms of playing, he’s an older guy. He’s in his mid-20s so he’s played in front of crowds before. It was good to see him step up. You’re never quite sure the first time he punts it what it’s gonna look like, but so far, so good.”
When you hired Kerry Coombs he had never been a defensive coordinator. Can you describe the level of confidence you have in him and the conversations you’ve had with him the last couple days?
“I’d rather not share the conversations, but when you look at the results over the last couple games and then coming off of last year, it’s not what we expect here. It’s not our expectations and so that’s all part of looking at how we need to move forward with this things.”
Your linebackers are all inexperienced, but you have some upperclassmen and they probably haven’t had the impact that you want. How disappointing is that and where do you see the fix at linebacker?
“I think it’s again, all the above. I think that helping them with scheme, coaching them better, the more experience they have. And again, these are guys coming in that we knew didn’t have great experience. Maybe we need to help them a little bit more. It’s all a part of coaching, especially in college, is you figure out where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are and you try to help them with that. And I think the more experience they get, the better they’re going to be too. It’s not like I don’t think they can do it, but we also have to put them in a position to be successful.”
When you watched some of the plays did you think what’s going on here?
“On a couple of them, yeah.”
When you say you’re taking a hard look at everything with the coaching staff, do you look at changing responsibilities?
“Yeah, for sure.”
You were asked about Sevyn Banks. If he’s been too injured to play, why hasn’t he been listed on the availability report?
“At this point, he’s not too injured to play. He has had some injuries and he was kind of slow in preseason, but now he’s healthy.”
Did you decide to hold him out as a precaution?
“Yeah, so he hasn’t played up to this point, but hopefully we can get him on the field this week.”
CJ said after the game this week he’s been dealing with some pain as well. Is that something you’ve had to manage during the week?
“Yeah, but that’s part of being a quarterback. You’re always going to have bumps and bruises. I think when you’re playing in the spring or you’re in the preseason, you have a black jersey on, you’re never touched. Then you go out there and you get conference play or this game this past weekend, you’re going to get banged around a little bit. Justin went through that, all these guys, JT went through that a ton and it’s part of being a quarterback at a big time level. It’s something he’s gonna have to get used to and work through.”
Coming off a loss for the first time as a head coach in the regular season are there experiences as a player or an assistant you’ve drawn from?
“Lost games before. I know that no one’s used to losing or anything like that, but we’re just going to move on and make corrections. The sun came up and we’re gonna go from there. And it’s nothing that different guys haven’t felt before. They’ve lost games before. But again, what it really does, it allows you the opportunity to address issues that are already there. That’s what’s gone on here. They’ve got to get addressed, they’ve got to get fixed because certainly we don’t want it to happen again.”
Harry Miller has been unavailable the first two weeks. Can you give us an update?
“Just he’s been unavailable.”
With CJ Stroud, it seems like when he’s been off, he’s missed high. Is that adrenaline?
“I thought he was really accurate on Saturday. I thought he made some throws that I haven’t seen a young kid make in a long time. That was not our issue.”
Do you see some things with the offensive line that need corrected and how do you go about that?
“Yeah. They were good up front and their linebackers are really good. Sewell’s really good kind of bouncing around there and we just never got into a rhythm. I think sometimes when you go against your own defense for 30-some-odd practices, you get into a rhythm a little bit of the style that you’re going up against. They were a little bit different. Little bit more two-gapping and a different style and we didn’t quite get into a rhythm there. Looking at our tracks and how the combinations are and how the running backs are hitting the gaps are all things that we need to clean up. There were still some good hits in there, but not consistent enough. You’re looking at guys again, who, Dewand’s really kind of fresh at right tackle, Nick made the move to left, Thayer’s now playing the second game at guard, Paris, really second start at right guard and then Luke is fresh at center. While they are very talented, they don’t have a ton of game experience so when some of those defensive techniques are a little bit different than what they’ve seen every day in practice, it can cause a little bit of confusion. That’s just something that we’ve got to work through and get them a little bit more experience on that and give them all the tools they need to adjust in game because each team we’re gonna play from here on out, they’re very, very different. This team that we’re about to play, completely different scheme. Minnesota was very different than Oregon and then we’ll have different schemes along the way. Some are three down, some are four down, some are two-gap, some are penetrators, some pressure a lot, some don’t pressure a lot and so you see a wide variety week in and week out and the more experience you have and the more reps you can draw upon like ‘Okay, I’ve played against this for a whole game of two-gapping, two-technique,’ then you have something to go up. Because the way that you block that guy is very, very different than the guy you would block maybe against our defense or the week before. So I think that played into a little bit. So we’ve got to learn on it, make the corrections and go.”
With the false starts, do you chalk that up to those guys pressing as the game goes on?
“No, they were both in tempo. I think we got to be louder with the cadence and we just need to keep our poise a little bit. When we’re going fast, we got to get up there, we’ve got to make the calls. It’s all happening fast so there’s a little bit of a communication there, they’re talking, they’re identifying what’s going on up front and then there’s a little bit of a false start there. That happened a couple times and it was a shame because if we get the ball snapped, we had big plays. It’s something that we’ve got to fix in practice. We’ve got to practice it a little bit better in practice and then go from there.”
Brian Kelly mentioned after their game that he’s trying to still figure out what his team is all about. You lost six guys on your front seven on defense, is that the way the defense is that there’s been way too much turnover?
“That’s the way it is here a lot. We lose a lot of really good players year in and year out. To your point, we certainly haven’t found an identity on defense yet. We’ve got to figure that part of it out because we haven’t done that. But it’s something that happens here a lot. You lose great players to the NFL and you have to regroup and rebuild.”
Can you elaborate on the patience it takes with a freshman quarterback and do you ever consider bringing in another quarterback considering the talent behind him?
“No. Not after how he played on Saturday. We got to help him more. We’ve got to run the football better, we’ve got to play better defense. That’s the bottom line.”
WIth CJ, it seemed like he ran tentative when he ran the ball. Is quarterback run going to be something you build in as you go along and could that have been him trying to protect himself?
“I don’t think he was that tentative. I thought he was pretty aggressive. I thought the third down that we got the holding call on Thayer, he did an unbelievable job. It was third and ten, he tucked it, got the first down and took a good shot in there. Dropped his shoulder and took a hit there. We got the holding call so it ended up third and 20 which was a major call, a major point in the game and I thought he really competed at that moment. I think as a quarterback you also have to be smart. He was running down the sideline, had a really good scramble for a first down along the right sideline early on, got a late hit on the sideline, picked up 15 yards there. I think he’s got himself out of trouble. I think in two games I think he’s had two sacks, I think they came at the end there. I think he’s got a pretty good feel in the pocket and he is a threat with his feet. He’s a threat with his legs. You saw last year the 80-yard touchdown run he had, so he’s had some good scrambles and we’ll continue to build on that as time goes. At the end of the day, our running backs have to run, our O-line has to block and there will be times we want to read somebody with him and he’ll do a good job with it.”
On the defensive line are you troubled by the lack of production? No sacks and one tackle for loss?
“That is frustrating for sure. We’ve got to create some disruption. We’ve got to affect the quarterback and we didn’t do that.”
You said there were some plays you watched, the 77-yard touchdown run, middle linebacker follows the tight end down, safety is a little offset, what happened there?
“It was a fit. The communication, it was an issue up front and the fit was wrong. I’m not going to throw out specifics, but the fit was wrong and then it spit to the safety and the safety didn’t get him down to the ground so it was a lack of execution.”
I know you don’t want to tell us what’s going on, but is Kerry going to call the defense this weekend?
“Again, I don’t want to get into specifics. I want to keep looking at it this week and I don’t think it’s something we’re going to decide right now either. I think it’s gonna be something that we all get in there and we all take a hard look at everything we’re doing from scheme to our structure and all those type of things and what gives us the best chance as we play against Tulsa to win the game. We’ll look at all those things. No hard decisions have been made that way yet.”
You have a ten-year defensive coordinator in the building as an analyst in Paul Rhoads. Is that somebody that could be an option if you needed something to elevate to an assistant?
“Paul is a great resource for our coaches. He’s really good. The hard thing for him in any type of those situations is he doesn’t really know the players that much because he doesn’t really get a chance to coach the players. That would be unfair to him. But I mean we’re obviously looking at all those type of things right now to figure out what gives us the best chance and he’s great for our coaches and he’s a great resource, good coach.”
Just want to confirm I thought you said some coaches on the staff have new duties.
“I didn’t say that.”
Oh, you did not?
“No, I don’t think so. But we are looking all those type of things to see what gives us the best chance and if there’s some things that guys can do better, then we’ll go from there.”
Your focus is usually on offense. To have to move to defense, is that disconcerting or surprising to you?
“Yeah. I’m not happy about that at all. That’s part of the deal. Here for me to do what I do on offense, I need the defense really on point and the special teams on point. I need Mark Pantoni to do a great job in recruiting, Mick Marotti to handle strength and conditioning and the minute that I get taken away from those type of things, then it affects everything else that’s going on on offense. So, yeah, to be honest with you, I’m disappointed.”
With that said are you going to get more involved in the defense and go to more of the meetings? How will this change things?
“Not in the intricacies of it all, but yeah, certainly needed to get in there and figure out what exactly are we doing moving forward? Hire guys to do a job and they got to do it, but now kind of going in there and figuring out, who in that room and what are we doing moving forward to give us the best chance to come up with ideas to get this done? Because we have good coaches and we have good players and so we can figure this out, but we have to, again, ask hard questions and maybe make things uncomfortable and that’s part of my job.”
As far as a hard change to the staff, you haven’t come there yet?
“I mean, it’s gonna be kind of over time. Yeah. And we’ll get there, but right now we’re just going to kind of work through it and figure out, again, let’s have a great practice today, what gives us the best chance against Tulsa and then as we get closer to the game we’ll figure out if we need to move things around for game day.”
Losing Josh, you’re losing the most veteran member of the safety unit. Do you feel like you’re losing some leadership?
“Yeah. Experience. We need experience on defense right now. We don’t have a lot of guys with experience and so when you lose a guy like that, it hurts, because he has played for us. When you look back there, there’s a lot of guys that haven’t. So, you know, that’s another shot.”
Wanted to ask about Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He gets overshadowed, but what have you seen from him so far and what do you see as his potential?
“He’s had a good spring and preseason and then that first game really didn’t get in the rhythm of it all. Forty-eight snaps, you really don’t get into it, but you can see what his potential is. I think he’s very, very good in the slot. He can change directions, he can wiggle free against underneath coverage players really well and has big play potential. So made some really big catches for us, had some really good routes, so again, he’s got a chance to be really good for us. When you look at some of the depth we have at receiver, we haven’t really been able to see some of those guys yet. Julian Fleming and some of the guys that have been working hard, they’re coming, because we have really good depth there.”
Yes or no, is Kerry Coombs the defensive coordinator?
“Yes, he is still the defensive coordinator, yes. But we’re going to look at everything and we’re going to keep looking towards Tulsa and figure out how the staff is working together, how the scheme works together and then we’ll go from there.”
I know you can’t take anything for granted, but Tulsa, Akron, Rutgers, Maryland, you should win these games. What will define success for you? Not just winning but what do you need to see?
“Yeah, that’s a good question. Progress. We’ve got to see progress. We’ve got to see guys building and growing and confidence being built and high level execution. That’s it. You know it when you see it. You know when there’s confidence being built. Execution fuels emotion and then vice versa, so that’s what we’ve got to see. It’s not going to all happen at once. You can’t just go out there in one or two plays and make things better. It’s a day to day, you’ve got to do a great job in practice, you’ve got to do a great job in your preparation and you’ve got to go put it on the field and be a competitive excellence. When you look at it at the end of the day, why weren’t we a competitive excellence? That’s what we have to look at. You got to look at yourself and you’ve got to look at the coaching and you’ve got to look at why your unit wasn’t ready to go.