Ryan Day talks inequity in targeting rule, previews Nebraska
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Ryan Day talks inequity in targeting rule, previews Nebraska

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ryan Day feels the punishment for targeting needs to change.

In the first play of the second half, Ohio State redshirt senior linebacker Steele Chambers was called for targeting, disqualifying him for the rest of the Penn State, along with the first half of the Nebraska game, about 60 minutes of potential playing time.

“It’s really brought light in my eyes to the fact that there’s some inequity in this rule where if it’s the first play of the second half or the last play of the second half, that’s significantly different,” the Ohio State head coach said. “In my mind, the rule should be changed to a 30-minute penalty as opposed to the number of halves. When you do it shouldn’t be the turning factor of how a penalty is assessed.”

As for the call itself, Day feels it's a difficult call to make, watching Chambers go full speed at the receiver, who went down to his knees at the last second.

The head coach knows the rule is to protect players, but Day feels there’s more to discuss with how it’s put in place.

“There’s a difference between what’s going on in real time and what’s going on in a replay,” Day said. “That’s the challenge our referees are faced with. It’s not easy, don;’t get me wrong. I always have to advocate for our guys and that’s what I was doing.”

In Chambers’ absence, Day said he will rely on Palaie Gaoteote IV and Tommy Eichenberg to step up.

First Playoff rankings don't affect Ohio State

Tuesday night, the College Football Playoff committee will release its first rankings of the 2021 season, giving the college football world an idea of where teams trying for a chance at a national title stand.

Day knows it’s happening. It’s not something he will talk about with his players. He also knows that no one talks about who’s ranked in Weeks 8, 9 or 10, but only in the final ranking that determines the Playoff.

“That’s all that matters to us is playing in this game because if you want to be ranked higher, you keep winning,” Day said.

Since the Playoff’s inception in 2014, Ohio State is tied with Alabama and Clemson with 42 poll appearances, the most of any program in college football, but has an average ranking of 5.69. The Buckeyes have been in the top-10 39 times and in the top-5 22 times.

While Day’s solely focused on what that final poll will indicate, he feels the journey Ohio State is on is one to contend for one of those top four spots, leading a young team through big wins and big losses, games where his team’s been up and been down, games where his defense and offense have both been great and games where both were just OK.

“It’s kind of been one of those seasons where we have experienced a lot of things,” Day said. “I like that part of it. We are still young, but we gained a lot of experience throughout the year.”

Brian Hartline calls Ohio State 'home' 

Brian Hartline said he pinches himself each day that he gets to coach Ohio State’s wide receivers. He also doesn’t yet grasp that he’s an assistant coach, despite having been in the position since 2018, taking over for Zach Smith.

Without that sense of being a coach, Hartline said he looks at what he calls “coaching gossip” the same way fans do, eating up every bit of it.

But when asked what his future holds as a rising star in the coaching profession, all Hartline could say was how comfortable he was with the Buckeyes, how Columbus was home.

"Ohio State is my home. I have a strong passion here,” Hartline said, calling Ohio State the pinnacle of the coaching profession.

"All I care about is this room. It's my only focus and my sole focus. I'd be lying if I said I would focus outside of that."

More importantly, though, Hartline said he can’t imagine leaving the players in his room, players, he said, he sees more than his family.

"I couldn't imagine telling Marvin (Harrison Jr.), Emeka (Egbuka) and Jayden (Ballard) that I won't be there any more,” Hartline said.

‘We could have executed much better’ 

Looking back at the film, Day saw how much Ohio State struggled in the red zone against Penn State.

On paper, the Buckeyes converted on five-of-six chances in the red zone against the Nittany Lions, but only one of those chances ended with a touchdown: a 1-yard run by freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson.

While penalties hurt in the red zone, saying a five-yard loss in that field is devastating, Day saw that there were schematic things that needed to be addressed.

“You have to run the ball well when you are in the red zone. It’s just part of it,” Day said. “We’ve thrown the ball well and, statistically speaking, have done a good job down there, we always have. There were times in both of those games where we haven’t finished drives.

“You can point the finger to a lot of things, but you have to execute at a high level in the pass game then you have to be really physical in the run game and make three-yard runs five-yard runs. The minute you get off schedule, you put yourself at risk because you ran out of room.”

Day previews Nebraska 

Day knows Nebraska’s record, seeing that the Cornhuskers are 3-6.

But he also knows that all six of those losses were by eight points or less. He knows they played Oklahoma, Michigan and Michigan State tough, using the 27th best scoring offense in the country to battle with some of the top teams in the country.

Day knows this will be a battle, something that the film shows.

“You can look at the record if you want or you can watch the film and realize what you have here,” Day said. “They have to realize it is March Madness. If you watch across the country, week in and week out, a lot of things have happened this year. We can’t let that happen to us. We can’t have any regrets. The only way to do that is to focus on right now and not be distracted.

Ahead of the Nebraska game, Day said junior running back Master Teague III is “day-to-day.”