Ohio State Buckeyes: 5 takeaways from Ryan Day’s Illinois preview press conference

A holiday week is another game week for the third-ranked Ohio State football team.

With Thanksgiving coming up and a visit to Illinois on the docket, coach Ryan Day held his usual preseason press conference Tuesday.

Here are five takeaways:

1. A holiday week presents another reminder of how tough this year is for the players, who have been instructed to remain mostly in isolation to lessen the risk of contracting COVID-19.

“It’s been hard I think for our players because they’ve really not been around their families for an extended period of time, and I think this being Thanksgiving week, it’s really hard on all the families and these young man,” said Day, who has also limited his contact with his own family as a precaution.

“But the other side of it is they’ve sacrifice so much to get to this point, so it’s kind of that balancing act. Do you go see your family on Thanksgiving and risk being exposed to this virus, which is everywhere right now? Or do you kind of hang in here and enjoy a meal in the facility, and kind of decide to stay by yourself? And we’ve decided that we’re going to do that. We’re certainly not telling parents that they can’t see their sons, but it’s just more risk.”

2. They are trying to keep it light in practice to ease stress from the overall situation.

When the Buckeyes couldn’t play two weeks ago because of a COVID outbreak at Maryland, they played dodgeball to help pass the time and have some fun.

Day said that is typical of a different way the coaching staff is conducting business this year since players are limited in what they are allowed to do away from the football facility.

“Usually in practice, or in certain moments when it usually needs to be very, very serious and focused, we’ve backed off on that because they don’t have that time (to unwind),” Day said. “They’re in their room, so they need that interaction with the coaches and their players maybe even during practice, to laugh and have fun because if this isn’t the best part of their day and if they’re not having fun when they come to building, the product’s not gonna be very good. So, yeah, we’ve tried to do as many things as we can so that they really love being here when they’re here.”

3. When a quarterback has an off game, Day expects him to play through it.

That was the message for Justin Fields after the Buckeye quarterback threw three interceptions on Saturday but still finished with 378 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns as the Buckeyes beat Indiana 42-35.

And it was why Day kept calling pass plays.

“What you can’t do is all of a sudden start to get tight,” Day said. “We just can’t do that here, I mean we always go.”

With Fields’ ability and the talent of his receiving corps, Day felt the need to continue to attack the Hoosiers.

“We have to work through those things, and that’s kind of really the first time Justin’s had to do that, and that’s the only way that I know how to do it is you just keep playing through it. It’s like a 3-point shooter in basketball who’s in a little bit of a slump. You’ve just got to shoot your way through. Same thing in baseball, so when those moments happen, you just have to erase what just happened and play through it. And that’s not easy because in your mind you start to think about the consequence of what you just did, and that’s when you have to reboot.”

4. Day believes the defense’s issues don’t seem be as pronounced as they were in 2018.

After Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw for 491 yards — fourth most for an Ohio State opponent in school history — many Ohio State fans had flashbacks to a disastrous defensive season the Buckeyes endured two years ago.

Day did not.

“I think the the issues here were really all in the pass game, and they’re correctable,” Day said.

“It’s not like we can’t correct them. Maybe the ones a couple years ago were a combination of run game and pass game. And so, I know that we can correct them. I know we have the right scheme. Now we just have to go do it.”

5. He confirmed the Buckeyes miss Jordan Fuller.

Fuller’s play was at top of mind after the NFL rookie had a pair of interceptions for the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night in a win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and because replacement Marcus Hooker has struggled at times in his place at free safety for Ohio State this season.

“Jordan was really good,” Day said. “I mean you saw what he did last night. He was just reliable. He tackled well. He got everybody lined up, and he was under-appreciated probably a little bit when he was here, but that position for us is somebody that’s very, very important.

“He’s the one that’s gotta keep it all in front of him, and he’s in charge back there. And yeah, Marcus has had some good moments. He’s also been a little inconsistent, so Coach (Kerry) Coombs and he are going to work on that this week addressing some of the things that he needs to get better at, and we’ll we’ll look at a bunch of different combinations this week to see what’s best and get this thing fixed.”


Ohio State at Illinois, Noon, FS1, 1410

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