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

While Ohio State is still more than a week away from taking the field against another team for the first time in 2020, college football has been going on across the country for more than a month.

Ryan Day, the coach of the Buckeyes, spoke about that and more in a meeting with the media Tuesday.

Here are five things to know from the session:

1. Day is not sure if the Buckeyes can learn anything from early defensive struggles across the country.

The final score of Oklahoma’s 53-45 win over Texas on Saturday probably didn’t raise many eyebrows, even among those who didn’t know the Sooners and Longhorns needed multiple overtimes. It was a Big 12 game after all.

But at the same time shootouts were happening across the SEC, too.

In a league once known for its fast, physical defenses, Missouri outscored defending national champion LSU 45-41 and Texas A&M tripped Florida 41-38 in early games, and the trend continued in the late-afternoon window as Georgia and Tennessee combined for 65 points.

The topper came that evening when Alabama couldn’t contain Mississippi but won anyway, 63-48, in what looked more like a basketball score.

Day, an offensive-minded coach, did not have much explanation for the offensive explosions, but he said the Buckeyes will try to learn from them anyway as they wait to finally get their turn when Nebraska comes to town next weekend.

“We’ve shown clips of different teams, and hopefully we can learn from some things that have happened over the last few weeks in college football and in the NFL season so far and just trying to emphasize those things,” Day said. “There’s nothing that takes the place of practicing with pads on and having spring ball and a preseason, but I think having an awareness of it and emphasis on pad level and tackling are critically important.”

2. The Buckeyes have not done much game-planning for Nebraska yet.

“We’ve been really focused on us, but we have been watching them when we can,” Day said. “We had a good off day yesterday and were able to spend a bunch of time on Nebraska, but so much of it is making sure that our guys are fundamentally sound right now.”

To foster that, Ohio State has frequently practice the first-team offense against the first-team defense while mixing in some of what Nebraska does.

“So we’re having a little bit of a hybrid week that way,” he said. “We didn’t have as much time as you typically would in the offseason to go ahead and study somebody, but it’s more than you would for a normal opponent late the season so I think we’ll be in good shape there.”

3. He supports his players taking advantage of the ability to vote early in the November election.

“(Assistant athletic director for player development) Ryan Stamper’s done an unbelievable job with with our players and our leadership council and our player development making sure that guys have an opportunity to vote, and I think the guys have done a great job with that,” Day said. “It’s something that some of the guys in the team felt really, really strongly about.”

4. The team has discussed displaying social justice messages on Ohio State helmets this fall, but a decision has not been made.

“We’re gonna probably make the final decision on that here by the end of the week, but I’m really proud of our players. This is this is something that they’ve led from the inside out, something they feel strong about,” Day said.

In June, the coach spoke along with a number of players in a video the program posted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as protests broke out across the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota.

“I’ve said from the beginning the job of our coaches and the head coach is to advocate for the players and their voices, and I think that’s been clear going back all the way to the beginning of this thing that we believe in that here,” Day said. “I’m very proud of the way that our guys have handled that. And I know we all do, we feel like it matters, the voice of the player, and we’ll continue to support them.”

5. Day did not mince words when asked what the past few Saturdays have been like for him.

“Mostly it’s been torture,” he said in a video conference with local reporters.

The Buckeyes have held scrimmages at Ohio Stadium the last couple of weeks then been able to go home and watch teams from the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and other leagues play games on television, in some cases since early September.

"Just being able to watch these games and not play in games has been really hard. There has been a part of it I’ve actually enjoyed, but for the most part it has been hard.

“I just want to get these guys on the field and get rolling,” Day said. “There’s been some beautiful Saturdays. Sometimes I’ll be at my son’s youth games or watching a game on TV thinking to myself it’s the end of September or early October and we’re not playing, but you accept it and focus on getting the guys better because we’re 11 days away right now.”

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