|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 29, 2019
Q. What's the most important thing that Jeff Okudah brings to this team?
RYAN DAY: I don't think there's one thing that he brings other than that he's so well-rounded, he helps us day in and day out in a lot of areas. First off, he's a tremendous player, but he takes his job very, very serious, and this is another guy in his third year who's matured to a level where, I mean, a lot of guys on our team look up to him and the way he approaches day in and day out. He's playing at a high level, he's playing with great energy, and just seeing the way he was running the ball after watching the film and throwing his body in there after last week goes to show you his buy-in, and I think he's playing at a tremendous level.
Q. What does it bring to a defense to have a guy like Chase Young that the other team is afraid of, they have to account for on every play? How does that benefit the rest of the team, offense and defense?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, having a player like Chase play the way he has clearly changes the game and makes everybody on that defense better because you have to account for him on every play. But that's only good if he plays that way, and he is. And we all know his potential and what he's done, but I thought his intensity and the way he approached that game was special. You could tell he played with a chip on his shoulder. But that's only good if he keeps continuing to play that way, and I think that's why you've got to give him credit week in and week out; he's played the same way, he's been consistent, he's been tough, he's been productive. But now we're into the teeth of this thing, and he's going to have to continue to play that way because now he's got the biggest bull's eye he's ever had on his chest, and that's going to be tough going down the stretch.
Q. Why is he so good at what he does?
RYAN DAY: It's not just one thing. It's a lot of things. First off, he's gifted. He's got good size, good length, toughness. His technique that he's worked on with Larry Johnson is off the charts right now in terms of his hand placement. But it's all the other things to me. It's the leadership, it's the toughness, it's his motor, it's ability to play several plays. It's the work he's putting in. He came in early last week talking about how much film work he had put in early in the week identifying some of the blocking schemes, what was going on. That's the stuff that pros are made of and great players are made of, and he's just got to continue to prepare the same this week because if he does, he's going to continue to get better, and it just helps our whole defense.
Q. I don't know what adjective you want to put on this, dumb, unwise, whatever it is. What's the one thing you've done in coaching that you'd look back on and go, that wasn't very smart, and what did you learn from that lesson? If you did something, what did you learn from it?
RYAN DAY: I mean, there's a lot. Boy, where do I start? Because in life, you either succeed or you fail and then you learn. I've made as many mistakes as anybody throughout my career and learned a lot from players, learned a lot from mistakes, just in handling players, handling families, handling kids, handling recruits, and then there's the schematics obviously, going into a game, not being prepared, not having the answers to your -- there's a certain level of responsibility you have as a coach to make sure you have answers for your players when it comes down to it, and that's our job as a staff to make sure that we're doing our part here and that we have answers during the game, and we're putting the guys in the right places and they're being put in a situation where they can be successful.
I've made so many mistakes. I'm going to continue to make mistakes. I made mistakes on Saturday. But as long as you learn from them, just like the players, then you've got a chance.
Q. I wondered schematically if there's a game you look back on and you feel like, I lost us that game?
RYAN DAY: I mean, I think it's always a team effort, but certainly when you don't win a game it's not good enough, you look back and you try to figure out how you could have done things better or had a call back here or there. That's the case every week. They're good calls when they work, and then you call them and they don't work and that's not a good call. You know, that's just how it works.
But no, you assess it week in and week out, but it's always a team effort. Whether you're doing well or you're struggling, it's always everybody involved, and especially in football when it's such a team sport.
Q. You guys are getting a lot of good press, as I'm sure you guys know. Nick Saban once referred to that as rat poison. How do you guard against that? I'm sure the guys are hearing these things.
RYAN DAY: I think all it means is that you have a lot more to lose if you let it get away from you. That's it. And the more this builds, the more we have to lose. So we're not going to get anxious about that or anything like that. But at the same time, we also know that we've got a bigger bull's eye on our chest week in and week out. We have to work harder and harder and we're more and more invested every week.
But I think this has been something we've been talking about for a long time. We expected to be in this situation, and now we have to act accordingly, and what that means is just staying locked in week in, week out on this game, preparing the same way, playing with the same energy, playing together, taking care of the football, tackling well, playing tough. If we do that, then we're going to have a chance week in and week out. If we don't, then we're going to put ourselves at risk. That's really what it comes down to, trying to help 18-, 19-, 20-year old kids understand that this is a great opportunity and that these opportunities don't come around but a few times in a lifetime, and you have to capture those moments and what are you willing to sacrifice to go and achieve those goals. That will be the things we talk about this week.
Q. I want to ask you about running back recruiting. When you look at the lineage of running backs here, Archie to Zeke, everybody else, Keith Byars, Tim Spencer, everybody, J.K., what he's doing. Even last year when you guys set passing records for the school, J.K. went over a thousand yards, Mike Weber almost did. I know you can't name specific guys, but are you surprised that running back recruiting is not where you want it for the 2020 class and are you confident you'll finish strong?
RYAN DAY: I think we will. I think we'll be fine there. J.K. is having one heck of a year, and I think if you're a running back throughout the country in the United States and you're seeing the history of running backs at Ohio State and what we're doing this year and what we've done in the past, I think you'd be foolish not to give Ohio State a hard look. We're really confident with some of the guys we're recruiting right now, and there's a long way to December and then February. We feel strong -- we also feel really good about the guys we have in the room right now. I think it's all going to work out.
Q. Ryan, Justin obviously got a little banged up on Saturday. You've had guys like Damon Arnette who are playing through some injuries, as well. As you get into this point of the year do you have to be careful about managing the amount of reps for those guys to make sure they stay healthy for the home stretch?
RYAN DAY: We always do. We always take the amount of reps serious and really handle that -- it's very sensitive, so that's one of the things we have to make sure we're doing a good job of down the stretch, as well. But injuries are part of the game. This time of year guys are going to be banged around and it's a tough game. We certainly won't be foolish with that, though. We'll make sure that we really think through every rep and make sure we're putting guys in the right situations, the reps that they need to practice because they can't get into bad habits, either, and one of the reasons why I think we've been playing so well is we're practicing so hard, and we have to continue to do that. But to your point, as it gets later in the season, we've got to be smart.
Q. You've had the opportunity in just about every game this year to get some of those second-team guys into the game at one point or another. How valuable is that coming into the home stretch, that those guys have had the opportunity to play in almost every game?
RYAN DAY: I think it's really important because I think you know what you have with some of those guys, where you could be at this point of the year and a guy goes down or a guy is out in the game and you have to put a guy in you don't even know what you have. And so I think we have a good feeling of where everybody is at on our team. It's almost three deep because those guys have got so many reps in games.
Q. You have three guys now, Chase and Justin and J.K., that are legitimately being talked about for the Heisman Trophy. Do you relish that, enjoy that that you've got three guys in that, or is there a part of you that -- Coach Meyer a lot of times would be like it's too much too soon to talk about that. I don't know, having guys like that that are in the conversation right now, how do you -- do you embrace that? What's your take?
RYAN DAY: No, I think when you're at Ohio State, this is what the norm should be, and it always has been. Hopefully it always will be. You come to Ohio State and you're a tailback, you're a quarterback, you should be in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Now for Chase, that's a different deal, and he's obviously a special player, and hats off to him to even be brought up in something like this.
I think if you ask those guys, they'll tell you that they're not worried about individual accolades at all, it's all about a singular goal and that's winning championships, and if we do, then I think there's going to be a lot of those things to go around because that wasn't one of our goals. I don't think you'd ask J.K. Dobbins or Justin or even Chase, hey, what was your goal at the beginning of the season, win the Heisman? That would not have been their answer, or I'd be shocked if it was. So if we just continue to do well and continue on the path we're on, there's going to be a lot to go around, a lot of accolades and awards and things like that, but that's not what it comes down to.
This is about the team, and I think one of the things that is good is we talk about big-time players playing well in big-time games, and I thought our big-time players did step up in the game, which is great to see.
Q. There's a lot of discussion, too, about who's No. 1 right now. Do you care at this stage? Like the AP voting is as close as it's ever been, you've got the poll coming out in about a week. What is your take on where you are and is that even important?
RYAN DAY: It will be at the end of the season, but not right now. If you're No. 1 right now and you lose next week you're not No. 1 anymore, so that's for everybody else to talk about. It has nothing to do with us right now. It doesn't mean anything. You don't get anything for being No. 1, 2 or 3 at this point of the year, you get it for the end of the season. I know people like to talk about it, and that's great. It's great for college football, but it has nothing to do with us.
Q. How would you describe the leadership style of Chase Young and J.K. Dobbins, because as great of leaders as they've been, they don't seem like they've always fit the traditional mold of a leader.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, and I try not to -- when I talk to the guys about leadership, it's never about fitting a style because I think everybody finds their own voice and everybody has their own leadership style, and I think that's the art of being a leader is being authentic and being yourself. And I think those guys have found their voice, and it's taken them three years to find that voice, but it's great.
I think in today's day and age of the internet, being on your phones and that type of stuff with this generation, stepping out in front of a team is a little frightening for, again, 19-, 20-year-old kids. And so these guys have stepped up, and they've put themselves out there. They have the courage to do it, and they're backing it up with their play, and I think it's great for a lot of guys to see.
But there's been a precedent set. Terry McLaurin comes back and speaks to our team Friday night before the game, and the culture he left and the legacy he left behind was special. And I think there's guys on our team that want to leave a legacy. They don't just want to leave a bunch of stats behind. They want to leave a legacy when they walk out the door, they're still talking about these guys down the road. How do you do that? With leadership, with getting out front and talking and making sure you're leaving an impact.
Q. How would you describe Chase Young's voice and J.K. Dobbins' voice?
RYAN DAY: Chase is very intense. He's very confident in what he does, and if he sees something, he's going to call it out. I think he's a strong leader. J.K. is kind of the same way, but he's a little bit more by example, but when it gets closer to the game, you start to feel him and hear him in the locker room. They both are very intense, especially as it gets closer to the game.
Q. Ryan, when you look at Justin Hilliard and the path he's taken, how crazy is it now that he is like basically a contributor big time, and how tough has that path been because you've been watching him now for three years, but what does he bring to the team now and is that a bonus this team is getting from some of the upperclassmen?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think Justin Hilliard, the story of him playing the way he played and being able to step up in a game like that and help us is a story that really isn't being told for whatever reason. But this is, like you said, a guy with today's day and age with portals and everything else, he stuck through it. He worked through injuries, he worked through playing time issues, and then he steps up in a huge moment for us to beat Wisconsin and plays really well and makes some big-time tackles. That goes to show you what kind of a kid Justin Hilliard is. He's got character, he's got perseverance, everything about him is great. He's helped us on special teams for years, but now he's able to step up into that role and make those kind of plays for the team. That's a guy who's leaving a legacy behind, and that's about hard work and working through tough times, and we're just really happy to have him part of this team.
Q. You watched the game, of course, but Davon Hamilton, Wisconsin had repeatedly maybe the best center in college football, some people said. Davon Hamilton seemed to have a game Saturday, so did Jashon Cornell. What has Davon Hamilton really brought to the fore here this season?
RYAN DAY: It started in the off-season. I thought he had one of the best off-seasons of anybody in the program. He really took a step in this off-season in the weight room with Coach Jay, just in general, and you could see him coming. Again, he started to get a voice. He's been in front of the team. And that's not easy for Davon. But I'm really proud of the way he's playing. I mean, he's strong in there. You could see the first play of the game he's knocking the guys back and he was really powerful in there, and that's a huge deal, especially against a team like that. But this is a guy who's a veteran guy now who's a huge part of our defense.
Q. Ryan, would you give any thought to playing Chase on offense to get him a Mike Vrabel touchdown or something like that?
RYAN DAY: It sounds fun, but we're not going to take any risks with Chase, no. Not going to do that.
Q. You were asked earlier about the Heisman candidates and most programs want one. You guys have potentially three. I know you don't want the distractions and all that, but will you talk about how you manage that? You probably don't want to pick one over the other --
RYAN DAY: Well, if you lose a game, that all goes out the window. Nobody is talking about anybody, so it's all about if we win or not. You hate to sound like that, but it's just the facts. If we want to continually get this type of momentum and keep the momentum going, we have to continue doing what we're doing. That's just the reality of it, so the guys need to embrace that and understand it and have the maturity to put that aside and ignore that stuff and stay focused on the task at hand.
Q. If you had any off-day conversations with those three, would the word Heisman even come up in those?
RYAN DAY: No, no, and I don't think they would be talking about themselves like that, either, because again, it's a great honor and all that stuff, but that's so far down the road right now that we're not talking about that kind of thing.
Q. Ryan, Master Teague, almost kind of on pace for 1,000 yards this year. A lot of his yardage is when the defense knows he's going to be getting the ball. How tough is that, the yards that he gets? How tough does that make him and what kind of luxury is that for you knowing that at the end he can just sock things away?
RYAN DAY: It's huge. It's really big, especially in that game right there where we put the second group out there on defense, got a stop, and then I think we got it back with, what was it, five minutes to go, and then we ended up taking a knee at the end. I mean, that's huge for our team, and that's a four-minute drill, and that was with our twos in there.
I think it's a combination of things. I think when he's been in there, it's been late in the game. It's been a change of pace. Maybe the defense is a little bit tired. He's fresh, he's strong, he's powerful, but our line has been doing a really good job late in the game, and then even that game in the week before our second group has gone out there and got really good movement. The first play of the game we run a power play, and our center and guard get great movement, guard pulls around and we get him to the secondary right now. I think he actually wished he had that run back because he was on the safety at 10 yards and ended up getting 20 on it but probably could have hit a home run on it. But I think it's a combination of all those things.
Q. Do you foresee getting a sixth year for Justin Hilliard?
RYAN DAY: That's going to be up to Justin to talk about. I don't think he's really focused on any of that right now, but certainly at the end of the season if that's something he's interested in then we can talk about it.
Q. You were asked about reps earlier, specifically at quarterback. Do you want to do anything in practice to give Justin any kind of rest in practice or keep him fresh, and what do you guys do, does Chug get reps with the ones very often to keep him ready? You needed him for a play on Saturday.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we usually don't have him take many reps with the ones. If we go 7-on-7 or some sort of other segmented group, then those guys will roll, so whoever they end up with they end up with. When we go to scouts, the receivers will pretty much roll when we're doing some pass stuff, but for the most part, Justin is in there with the first group. Chugs will get some reps during the week, though, but very few with the ones. We like to -- for as few amounts of reps Justin has had in practice and making sure he's ready to go. So that's what's hard about being a backup is you have to be ready to go. You have to, with limited reps with the ones you have to be ready to go out there and function. We put Chuggs in there, 2nd and long, we tried to screen, the guard kind of sniffed it out, I thought he did a good job of throwing it away. We ended up getting a holding call, but that wasn't his fault made a good decision. That was a tough situation to get thrown into. I thought they'd be kind of coming over the wall so we could get him on the screen, but it didn't work out that way. I thought he managed it well.
Q. When we saw Justin we talked about him toughing it out in that game. How do you adjust in the middle of the game if you see that your quarterback is feeling something a little bit, do you think to yourself, man, I've got to -- we can't run him anymore but also you needed him on some runs on Saturday and used him? If you see your quarterback taking some hits, how does that maybe change your play calling mid-game?
RYAN DAY: We talked about it going into the game. I said, Justin, you're going to have to -- with the rain and everything going on with this defense, you're going to have to run a little bit in this game, and he was all for it. He was awesome, and he was ready to go. His attitude was excellent going into it, and he ran tough early in the game. He took some shots, but he got us going, and I was really proud of him. The one time he got banged up a little bit. I asked him, I said, what do you think. He said, I'll be fine. I'm hurting but I'll be all right. It wasn't anything long-term, it was just one of those things he took a shot there and landed on it funny, but he's going to be fine.
But it was certainly one of those things you have to -- as you start to have more experience with a quarterback, you have to be able to trust him, and he's tough, he's gritty. He said, if you need me to run, I'll run. We didn't really run with him much after that, but he said he was willing to run, and it just goes how tough he is, and I keep saying that, but the more I'm around him, the more I really respect how tough he is.
Q. We've covered this ground before, but the way Chase is playing, the way Nick Bosa is playing in the NFL, like if you could have had those two healthy guys on the field together for all of last year, what would that have looked like, a healthy Nick Bosa and a healthy Chase Young?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I don't know. Certainly they're two of the more talented guys that have ever gone through here and maybe to ever play the game. They're very, very talented. I try not to play the what-if game, but certainly respect both of those guys, and they're both dominant players.
Q. You guys were the most penalized team in the country last year, now you're among the least penalized teams, and I think you cut your penalties per game in half. How much did that occupy your thoughts when you first took over, and how did you approach improving in that area?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we put some different things in, but it really goes back to our guys and how much discipline they have. But we did certain things where if guys would jump offsides or the ball would get loose, we'd have them run a lap. It sounds juvenile, but it's real. And we had consequences for that. We continue to still do that.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to their discipline, and we talked about in this kind of a game, you have to be clean because with the way they control the ball, you get off schedule with different things, you're going to get yourself jammed up with penalties. And then you have to do well on 3rd down, and I thought Justin had a 3rd and 10, a 3rd and 10 and a 3rd and 13 that we converted on 3rd down that was huge. I would say on offense that was kind of the huge deal for us. He had two scrambles I think to J.K. and then the long one to Chris at the end of the half, and that was huge for us.
But because we weren't really on schedule early on, and then as the game went on I thought we got ourselves on schedule, got into some 3rd and manageables and kind of got into a rhythm.
Q. With penalties, how much control do you ultimately feel like you have as a coach once the guys get out there between the lines?
RYAN DAY: Zero. I mean, yeah. It's all about what you've done leading up, just like all the work that's done early in the week. That's where you feel the most stress. We do ball security stuff, we talk about penalties, but -- and if we see things on film, we'll obviously address it. We try to stay clean as we can and talk about those kind of things, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the discipline of the team to make sure that they -- and sometimes it's just late hits, taking a shot at somebody. I think there was a couple chances we had to take a couple blocks at guys, whether it was Garrett's return or the fumble recovery, and we didn't push somebody in the back, those kind of things. How do you coach that kind of stuff? Well, you talk about it at meetings the best you can, you coach it off the film, but it's the players' responsibility to play with discipline, and I think they're doing that right now, so we've just got to keep that rolling.
Q. Maybe the area where you were most penalized last year was the offensive line, procedural stuff and holding stuff. Is there anything to the idea that you were just a defending pass team that maybe would be a little bit more susceptible to that (indiscernible) pass blocking?
RYAN DAY: No, I don't think it was that. I think there was more to it than that, and we addressed some of those things, and I think we've done much better with that this year.
Q. Is that your recruiting blazer?
RYAN DAY: No, not my recruiting, just a blazer.
Q. I was just wondering, when you're in a situation right now where you have two bye weeks in a month period, your recruiting class is already basically full for 2020, during the week, just when recruiting is a huge emphasis, you guys are out on the road and all that stuff, what do you do? Are you trying to get ahead for 2021, and if you are, how big of an advantage is that? What is this week's emphasis?
RYAN DAY: It's a lot. I think we want to make sure we try to get out to see as many guys as we possibly can, committed, uncommitted, like you said, 2020, 2021, and just get around to be around the programs, but then also reach out and continue to do a great job recruiting Ohio. I was in Ohio yesterday and making sure I tried to get as many schools as I possibly could. Even though there was a fog delay getting out of here in Columbus so didn't get to as many as I wanted to, but still, buzz around, and I think that it's important for us to make sure that we're continuing those relationships, especially in Ohio and the Midwest and then as we go out and recruit nationally, we're able to get out there and see those guys on a bye week.
Q. How many did you make it to yesterday?
RYAN DAY: I forget. I think seven.
Q. Garrett Wilson had a pretty nice punt return. I know you guys are always looking for a spark in the return game. Is Garrett progressing the way you hoped he would in terms of a spark both on offense and in the return game? Is he somebody that you think he could have an Olave-like effect like you had last year where a freshman is in the program and in the season for a few months and then at the end he might be somebody you guys might rely on?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think it's very hard to step in as a true freshman and make an impact right off the bat. I think it takes a little time. You learn about the system, you learn about how to practice, you learn about all those things. And so I think as the season has gone on, he's gotten better. I thought he flashed a little bit in the Northwestern game, he got targets in this game, got the big return. Like you said, I think the second half of the season is going to be good for him.
Q. Where are you guys at with a punt returner?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, still kind of where we are, but Garrett certainly -- I think when you look at what he's done and the last few returns, he's making a strong move to be the starter.
Q. Your defensive line held one of the best backs in the country to 72 yards and recorded five sacks against an offensive line that's usually one of the best in the country. What is the ceiling for that group, and where do they go from here?
RYAN DAY: You know, I don't know what the ceiling is, but they're going to continue to do what they've done, and that's look at the opponent that week, figure out how they're going to attack them, play and practice with great energy, great toughness. They're going to play a lot of guys. That's the other thing that's really good about that group is we're pretty deep. Had to play depth because we had a few guys dinged up throughout the season, and again, there's still the tip of the spear of the defense. If we can win the line of scrimmage, we've got a chance against anybody. I think when you combine their ability to stop the run and the pass rush, that makes them pretty versatile.
Q. General Heisman question: Only one true defensive player has won it. You're a quarterback at heart. We all know that. What would be the challenge? You're a Heisman voter let's say. What's the challenge of voting for a defensive guy? What goes on with that from your perspective?
RYAN DAY: You know, I'm not a voter, and I haven't thought about it all that much, but I do think that there's been a history of offensive guys getting it, so I think you'd have to almost change the mindset a little bit of what you're voting for. Are you voting for the most production, are you voting for the best player, are you voting for the most valuable player? I don't know. But I know that Chase is -- if he's not the most dominant player in college football right now, then he's close. But it's only going to be that way if he continues to play that, so we've got four more games in the regular season here, and he's got to continue to play at that level and make some voters think.
But again, if you were talking to Chase, I don't think he has any interest in all that. I think just being considered and just being brought up in that conversation, much respect.
Q. What would be your expectations? It seems like it would be best player, not MVP, because otherwise you could argue it's a different guy than Chase. Do you think it should be best player or most important to his team? What's the Heisman to you?
RYAN DAY: You know, I think it's the best player, and there's a lot that goes into that. But I think it's the best player, not so much the most valuable or anything like that because I think there's so many different variables in college football. It's not like the NFL where everybody has the same set of rules and the same set of everything. It's very, very different. So I think it should go to the best player.
Q. Since the quarterback touches the ball that many times, does that just build in an advantage right there?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think so. I think over the years that's what's happened. But that doesn't necessarily mean that's where the award should go.
Q. Another Heisman question, could you use this moment or this month as a huge recruiting tool, though you wouldn't promote one over the other, promoting all three, and has there been in the discussion about a plan -- because historically the school hasn't done that because they're on enough. I think they felt like everybody had eyeballs on Ohio State.
RYAN DAY: Well, I think when you're at Ohio State you're right in the limelight of all of college football. So I think, like you said, I think there's enough spotlight on our guys right now, and I think everyone knows that. I think in recruiting, it's going as good as it could possibly go. I think that the culture that we've created since January is off the charts, and people are very, very excited about that, and I think going -- getting to this point in the season and playing the way we have I think is a credit to everybody inside the program and the excitement around the program, and I think when you do things like this at a place like Ohio State, you know you're going to have opportunities like this. You know you're going to have Heisman Trophy candidates. You're going to have All-Americans, you're going to be in the National Championship conversation, and you're going to be relevant in November, and that's just part of this job. It's part of being at Ohio State, and I think that's why people want to come here anyways. I don't think this is anything out of the norm or anything new, it's part of what we talk about in recruiting year-round. But here we are.
Q. Is it a distraction, because you've talked a lot this year about the noise and the --
RYAN DAY: Yeah, it can be. It can be. But it's all about what our focus is, and something we've been talking about for a long time, and we knew -- I mean, it's like being at any other place in the country that's undefeated at this point of the season. There's going to be a lot of people talking about it, but that's why you come here, and if you can't handle that, then you shouldn't be at Ohio State.
Q. You've talked so much about your team being built on toughness more than anything else. How do you evaluate your team's toughness, what you've seen through eight weeks?
RYAN DAY: I think we played with toughness on Saturday. Again, it doesn't matter if we don't come out and play with toughness next week, but to handle the elements the way we did, I thought that the rain and the whole situation was kind of lining up a little bit to play towards Wisconsin's strengths, and so we just had to say that doesn't matter to us, how tough can we possibly play, can we handle the elements. Both teams have to play with it. We've got to win the line of scrimmage, got to do a great job on 3rd down, and we've got to go score touchdowns in the red zone, and that was our focus. And then we had adversity. In the third quarter we get that punt block, they score, we're in a three-point game, and then at that point, that's kind of the first time where I really felt like our team was backs up against the wall, and we go right down the field and score, and then from then on I kind of thought we dominated the game. It was good to get that feeling of, okay, here we go, boys, now where is this team really at, and the response was solid.
Q. About handling success, you've got two opponents that you're going to be huge favorites against. How important is this stretch for you and your team to not kind of buy into the hype, just stay focused and not get distracted by any of this?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, of course it's important to stay focused right now. If they're reading the hype, if they're reading all that stuff, then they're more foolish than I thought they would be. I don't think our guys are going to do that. I think we're just going to work every day to get better. It's the same people that picked us -- I don't know if we were fourth, fifth, wherever we were in the Big Ten East, so that didn't matter at that point. It's not going to matter anymore. It doesn't matter to the game on Saturday. And so as long as we just focus on that, we'll be fine.
Q. You obviously watched tape closer than anyone. When you look at both your strengths and your flaws, and I'm sure there are flaws, what are the flaws that kind of stand out to you and say, okay, if we want to get to where we want to go, we have to fix this and this?
RYAN DAY: There's not one like major flaw. I think there's a lot of little things that we need to work on and clean up and do a better job of for sure. I mean, watching the film, especially on offense, I mean, that first half there's a lot of things to clean up. But it isn't just one thing. Like if you're asking me what are the one or two things we need to focus on, it's not that. It's just a lot of little things that we certainly need to tighten up.
Q. Just to circle back to Davon Hamilton, he's somebody who's been in the program a while, now starting as a fifth-year senior, what's the challenge for somebody who comes here and has to wait a while to finally get on the field?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, everybody has their own journey, and you can't compare your journey to anyone else's in recruiting and you can't compare your journey to anyone else in your career in college or the NFL if that's where you want to go, because everybody is on their own path, and I think what happens is sometimes guys see somebody playing early or whatever that is, that wasn't the path for Terry McLaurin, and look what he's doing right now. Everybody has their own journey, and I think Davon's journey has been awesome for him because he needed to develop in certain areas, and he has. So if guys just believe in that, believe in the program, believe in getting developed, eventually it'll work for them.
But it isn't all going to happen at once for some guys. Some guys are a little bit more ready, for whatever that reason is, they play a little bit earlier in their career, but Davon is a great example of somebody who's developed over time and become a really big-time player.
Q. What were some of those areas of development? I know nose tackle is probably a hard thing to plug in a freshman or sophomore guy?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, your size, your body, your technique, pad level, all those things.
Q. As we look back across the country, giving Heismans to offensive players, the ratio is 80:1. Does that strike you as skewed or inappropriate or anything like that, or maybe you have some old quarterback bias? Is that just do you think?
RYAN DAY: I just think it's the way that the game is played, and there's only one football, and the guy who touches the football the most probably gets the most action, so that's probably why it's been the quarterback over the years. But it's hard to be as dominant on defense as it is on offense at times, and so that's probably more the case, yeah.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports