Ohio State football: Buckeyes coach Ryan Day previews Oregon Ducks

Ohio State coach Ryan Day questions the referee about the lack of a call on a punt return during the first quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Minnesota on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Caption
Ohio State coach Ryan Day questions the referee about the lack of a call on a punt return during the first quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Minnesota on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn

Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn

COLUMBUS -- With preparations for No. 12 Oregon’s visit to Ohio Stadium on Saturday already underway, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day wrapped up the 45-31 season-opening win over Minnesota and looked ahead to what could be the third-ranked Buckeyes’ biggest challenge of the season.

ExploreHere's what to expect if you are attending the game Saturday

Here are five things to know from Tuesday’s press conference:

1. Day called the game “the first step in a long journey” for quarterback C.J. Stroud.

The redshirt freshman from California overcame a shaky first half to finish with four touchdown passes and 294 yards against the Golden Gophers.

“Going through a first game and going through some of that adversity early on opens your eyes to some things,” Day said. “Working through that was great. It was just the first step in a long journey — certainly for our offense and for C.J.

“Now you can say you have done it before. There were a lot of things going into that game that we could say C.J. had never done — and a lot of guys had never done. C.J. had never even thrown a pass (in a college game). It’s one thing to be a first-time starter. It’s another thing to be doing everything for the first time – going on the road, being the starter, playing in front of fans, throwing a pass in a game.”

2. He was happy with how the secondary competed.

With veterans Cam Brown and Sevyn Banks not fully healthy, Ohio State turned to youngsters Denzel Burke, Ryan Watts and Lejond Cavazos (along with senior Demario McCall, who was an offensive player until spring) at cornerback.

“There was an edge and an energy to them,” Day said. “Were there mistakes? Absolutely. Were there missed tackles? Yes. Were there some plays they want back? Absolutely.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan completed 14 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown, but he did not have a completion over 22 yards.

“There were some good things for some young guys going in there,” Day said. “Certainly, there is some improvement that has to be made and that has to happen. Otherwise we won’t win this game. We have to play really well in all three phases to win this game. This is a good team coming in here. I am looking forward to seeing those guys take the next step.”

ExploreDepth, perseverance help Ohio State overcome challenges

3. He did not have any sort of injury updates.

Day has largely resisted answering questions about injuries since he became head coach, preferring to defer to a pregame availability report instead.

He stuck with that Tuesday when asked if Brown, Banks or safety Josh Proctor would be available Saturday.

“We went to the availability report…. for a variety of reasons,” Day said. “Certainly there are different situations for each person. We just felt like moving forward the best thing would be to not comment on any type of injuries.”

Proctor started the Minnesota game but left with an apparent injury in the fourth quarter.

4. The variety in Minnesota’s attack influenced how many players got into the game on defense.

The Golden Gophers offense showed Ohio State several different looks, bouncing from the three-receiver (“11 personnel”) sets that are most prevalent in college football today to three-tight end sets (13 personnel). They also put one or even two extra offensive linemen on the field on a regular basis.

That led to Ohio State using a lot of different players to try to match up.

“When you make that big of a jump from 11 to 12 to 13 personnel, we wanted to match personnel in that game,” Day said. “Based on their style of play, we thought that was very important.”

The coaches are still determining their best 11 on defense, and the rotation could be tightened up as the season goes on.

“It looked like a New York sidewalk at times with guys coming in and going out,” Day said. “I thought they could have given us more time to sub. We seemed rushed at times, but that was unique to that game.

“That being said, we are going to play a lot of depth and roll those guys. We will talk and meet about it and take it into the game based on how they practice.”

5. He sees Oregon has having adopted some characteristics of their head coach.

Mario Cristobal was an all-conference offensive lineman for the Miami Hurricanes when they were winning national championships in the early 1990s, and he has tried to instill some of that toughness in the Ducks since taking over as their head coach in 2018.

“They have embodied that,” Day said. “They have recruited very well. They are very athletic. This is a very very good team coming in here with a lot of good players. It is a major challenge.

“We are going to have to play and keep up with them speed-wise. They will be strong in the middle, so we will need to be strong in the middle. They have power and strength and toughness, but they also have speed and athleticism.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Oregon at Ohio State, Noon, Fox, 1410