Ohio State Buckeyes: Ryan Day ready for opener, not worried about style points

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Ryan Day talks about opening with Big Ten opponent on Thursday night

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day says the Buckeyes are game ready.

That’s a good thing since their seasonopener is Thursday at Minnesota.

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“I mean, I guess we could prepare for another week, but I think they’re tired of hitting each other,” Day said Monday “You know you hear that year in and year out going into the first game, but that’s true. It’s time to go play. I think that we’re as prepared as we’re going to be, and now it’s time to go put it on the field and then come in the day after and make the corrections and continue to build.”

Here are five takeaways from Ohio State’s first pregame press conference of the 2021 football season:

1. Day is excited to find out where his team needs to get better.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes are the favorites to win the Big Ten for the fifth season in a row, but like any other team they have holes to fill and stars to replace.

“Excited to just get going and find out what we have and start to solve all the things that need to get fixed because you don’t know until you get out there and that’s coaching,” Day said. “That’s the fun part about about coaching.

“The hard part is you’re not allowed to lose around here, so you gotta win. You’ve got to find any way to win the game and get out of that environment 1-0.”

2. He is not worried about how this one looks.

With 10 starters back on each side of the ball and a home crowd expected to give them an energy boost, the Golden Gophers should provide a challenge to the Buckeyes.

This is not likely to be one of those Week 1 laughers that frequently happen across the country as teams ease into the schedule.

“I told the team the other day in the first meeting of the week the goal here is to go 1-0. There’s no other expectations,” Day said. “You don’t know how it’s going to go, and whether we go up, we go down, it’s even, we’re going to get that game to the fourth quarter and then find a way to win the game, and that’s the only expectation right now.

“But that is the exciting part: You have a new challenge year in year out finding where guys are and then and then you build as the season goes on.”

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Coach PJ Fleck, quarterback Tanner Morgan say Springfield grad Michael Brown-Stephens expected to play big role for Minnesota football this fall

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3. Day feels good about the team’s overall health after its last physical pregame practice Sunday.

“I think this past week we’ve got healthy,” Day said. “We put two hard, physical practices in this weekend and the pads come off today. We kind of have a hybrid practice today, but the pads will be off. The goal was to be done off the field with the physical part of practice by noon on Sunday, we did that. Now, you know that’s a long time until Thursday night, but we’ll have a really spirited helmet practice today, same thing tomorrow and then. And then we get on the road.”

4. He would not confirm what the starting lineup will be up front on offense, but someone else apparently did.

Thayer Munford was not in pads the last time reporters saw a practice, but Day said the senior will be available Thursday night.

The coach refrained from identifying what position he would be playing, but Nicholas Petit-Frere appeared to let the cat out of the bag later in the day.

Petit-Frère said he expect to be at left tackle, seemingly confirming the coaches have chosen Dawand Jones to start at right tackle with Paris Johnson Jr. at right guard, Harry Miller at center and Munford at left guard.

“We’re all prepared for us to play any position we need to, but I feel pretty confident where I’m at right now,” said Petit-Frere, who was the No. 1 right tackle last season and graded by Pro Football Focus as one of the best in the country. “We’ve worked at it during camp. I’ve had a lot of help from Coach (Greg Studrawa) and everyone around me just getting comfortable at the position, and I feel pretty good about it.”

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5. Munford was the starter at left tackle the last three seasons but said he had no problem switching positions if it made the team better.

That kind of attitude also likely played a role in his being named the second representative of the “Block ‘O’” jersey, a new tradition that began last year with Jonathan Cooper.

It honors Bill Willis, the Hall of Fame defensive lineman who played for the Buckeyes in the early 1940s before going on to help reintegrate the pro football with the Cleveland Browns.

“This is a guy who wasn’t very highly recruited, had to lose a bunch of weight to even earn a scholarship here, had a back injury along the way, overcame a lot of obstacles,” Day said of Munford. “And he’s done everything the right way. He decided to come back for another year, and he just has the respect of everybody around here. It really exemplifies everything that Bill Willis stood for. And so Jonathan Cooper I thought was a great first recipient of the Bill Wills award, but I think that Thayer’s going to do the same.”

Ohio State is trying out a new look offensive line with (L-R) Nicholas Petit-Frere, Thayer Munford, Harry Miller, Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones.
Caption
Ohio State is trying out a new look offensive line with (L-R) Nicholas Petit-Frere, Thayer Munford, Harry Miller, Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones.

Credit: Marcus Hartman

Credit: Marcus Hartman

THURSDAY’S GAME

Ohio State at Minnesota, 8 p.m., Fox, 1410