Ohio State football: Day still wary of Penn State despite its back-to-back losses

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Ohio State football coach Ryan Day previews Penn State

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

COLUMBUS -- If Penn State suffering back-to-back losses took some of the steam out of their visit to Ohio State this week, no one told Ryan Day.

The head coach of the Buckeyes made that and more clear when he met with the media for the first time this week.

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Here are five takeaways from Ohio State’s weekly press conference:

1. This is still a big game as far as the head coach is concerned.

“Well, look at the games that we’ve had with them in the past,” Day said. “They’re always a dogfight, which is the way it’s been. And I know it’s going to be that way. They have a lot of pride. They’re a very good program.”

Ohio State has won four in a row against the Nittany Lions, but two of the games were decided by one point each while the Buckeyes won by 11 and 13 the past two seasons.

“They’re one of the best programs in the country, so it’s hard to beat these type of teams. We know when Penn State comes into town we better be on our game. This is going to be one of those games that’s physical back and forth and we’ve got to start fast and be ready to play for four quarters.”

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2. The Buckeyes will prepare the same as any other week.

“Our standard is not going to change, but we also know what’s in store so we’ve got to utilize everything this week,” Day said. “That’s what’s important. If you’re playing in big games, no stone’s unturned. Everybody’s got to utilize every minute of the day. You can’t waste a rep. You can’t waste a minute in a meeting. You’ve got to be efficient as a coach. Players need to get their rest -- all those things. But other than that, we’re going to practice the way we’ve practiced since week one. That’s the best way we know to prep.”

3. He might have some extra words for his quarterback, though.

C.J. Stroud has been coming on strong lately, but everything is new this year for the first-year starter.

In this case, it’s a night start at home against a ranked team.

“I think just like any week, you talk to him about what to expect: What are the situations, what are the conditions?” Day said. “But this game will be a little bit different. It’s going to be electric. It’s going to be home at night against a really tough, physical defense. This is one of the better defenses in the country. It’s a matchup game so we’ll want to play field position football, those type of things. Be smart. All the things that have gotten us to this point, but at the same time, he’s got to go do what he’s done the last couple of weeks and that’s go out there and play with confidence and prepare at a high level.”

4. The health of the running back room continues to evolve.

Day did not go into specifics but said Marcus Crowley has a long-term injury that occurred during Ohio State’s off week earlier this month.

“It’s going to be a long road for him,” Day said.

Crowley, who spent most of last year working his way back from a 2019 knee injury, was fourth string when everyone is healthy, but running back is a position at which depth can evaporate quickly.

Miyan Williams and Master Teague III have both missed games this season, but they are both expected to be available (along with true freshman Evan Pryor) to back up starter TreVeyon Henderson this week.

Henderson is third in the Big Ten with 686 rushing yards this season and averaging 8.8 yards per carry.

5. Selling the players on the possibility of an upset should not be hard.

Day said the weekly upsets in college football — including the Nittany Lions’ loss last week to Illinois — should be a reminder anything can happen on any given Saturday.

“First off we’ve already lost the game, so we know what that’s like if you don’t bring it, how it can come down to one or two plays,” Day said. “We don’t have to just say that to our guys. They’ve lived it, and they understand what the consequences are, so I think we have their attention there. I think our guys understand that. They’re a little scarred and calloused from that, which is good, but we’ve got to stay humble. We got to stay on it. We can’t let little things slip because if we stay locked in on this thing that gives us our best chance to win. It’s all about winning this game on Saturday night. It’s gonna be hard, but we got to show up, and we’ve got to play all four quarters.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Penn State at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

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