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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 5, 2019
THE MODERATOR: We will go straight to questions.
Q. How much did Matt Barnes help during a week preparing for Maryland, given the fact he was there last year?
RYAN DAY: He did an unbelievable job in a tough spot last year. Very sharp. Had his hands on defense, special teams, everything like that.
It's a very whole new crew over there. A lot of the personnel has changed, too. A little bit but not all that much.
Q. You talked a lot about Justin Fields' toughness. Did it take until the game started till you knew how tough he was? When did you learn he is ultra tough?
RYAN DAY: Well, I think for a quarterback it's hard because you're never live, so you don't know those types of things. You don't know competitively how tough guys are until you get into those situations. There was times during the season where you got to recognize that more and more.
I think the Nebraska one, he took a shot where the guy launched right into his chest, even into his head. Next play threw a fade to Garrett for a touchdown. Signs like that of toughness.
Q. Last year when you decided to recruit Enokk in Hawaii, other recruits out there, when you're considering taking this program into Hawaii for recruiting, do you have to consider other things besides just how far it is, like finances? Part of America, but it's so far away. What are the discussions, other discussions outside of the state of California, Florida, Texas?
RYAN DAY: That's a big part of the conversation. We obviously want our foundation of recruiting to be right here. Then we go out throughout the entire country to look to find the best players in the country. The United States and globe has gotten smaller every year based on the Internet, computer, travel.
These guys nowadays are just so much more in tune with all the different schools that are within the country. Guys are traveling. You look at the guys who have come from Hawaii, Marcus, a lot of guys. We have several guys from the area. Haskell Garrett grew up there, is from there. They've done a great job assimilating here. They love it.
The more guys that we see come from remote areas who do well, then we continue to work on that. But we also know the challenges that come with it.
Q. I remember last year before signing day, didn't you take a flight to Hawaii, come back?
RYAN DAY: Right.
Q. What do you have to consider as a program in terms of time that could be spent recruiting other players?
RYAN DAY: It's all taken into consideration. Long conversations about: Is it worth it? Is there interest on both sides?
We think it's worth it to go all the way out there and see somebody, evaluate them. Those are things we don't come to lightly, take a lot of time to make sure it's worth it like you're saying. There's a time and financial investment in that.
Q. Looking at the Maryland game last year, they score seven touchdowns and 51 points. I know you're offensive coordinator last year. During that, what are you doing, thinking? Anything at all?
RYAN DAY: Hard to remember exactly at the time what I was thinking. That was a wild game. I remember that was a big game for Dwayne in terms of establishing himself as a runner. Ran like 12 or 13 times. It was a tough game for him. Actually threw a pick-six in that game. I remember it being crazy, that's for sure.
But it was one of those back-and-forth games. It seemed like who had the ball last would win. I remember the fourth-down conversation to Rashod. That was a huge deal. Terry McLaurin had a great game. It was a back-and-forth game.
Sometimes when you get to this time of year, there's some wacky games out there. You have to adapt on the move.
Q. Seven touchdowns, 51 points. You've given up five touchdowns and 38 points in Big Ten games. It's the same guys, same D-line, secondary. Can you help me and us understand how can that defense beat this defense?
RYAN DAY: I think there's a lot of things. In terms of maturity, these guys are all a year older. That's all changed. The scheme has changed. There's a lot that goes into it.
The offenses we're seeing are different. This team is hungry. I think they all really enjoy playing with each other. I think it's a conversation that would take more than just one answer on why.
So far to this point, they have played at this level. They got to bring it every week now. It's going to be the same thing: it's only as good as you played the last week.
The challenge is going to continue. Every team that comes out there is going to want to score points, prove they can move the ball against our defense.
Again, new challenge this week. They're dangerous. They have athletes, well-coached, got a good scheme. Another challenge for us.
Q. (Indiscernible) we were playing the wrong scheme or we were playing too complex of a scheme for our guys? I'm sure you're sensitive to that. From the outside looking in, the explanation is hard to find on anything other than that.
RYAN DAY: I think there's a lot that goes into it. I don't think it's as simple as that.
Again, I think so much of it has to do with a bunch of guys who sat around for a whole off-season, heard that they struggled. They came in with something to prove. They worked really hard in the off-season, got bigger, stronger, dove into the defense, created great relationships with the coaches. Now they're playing at a high level.
Q. College Football Playoff comes out tonight. You'll take note of that. How important is it where you are in the first one? What's the message once it comes out?
RYAN DAY: I think it's for the fans. Doesn't mean anything to us because if we lose this weekend, we're not going to be in the top four, that's for sure. What matters is where we're at once we're done with the season, the regular season.
None of that really matters to us.
Q. Aren't you a little curious?
RYAN DAY: Not really, no. Because again, it doesn't matter if we don't continue to win. What matters is the record at the end of the season, where you're ranked at the end.
That does not matter to us.
Q. Eight games into the season, what is your biggest concern right now? Obviously you have four games to go in the regular season. What do you guard against now?
RYAN DAY: I think at this time of the season, you're into November, crazy things can happen. We have to continue to stay focused on the things that have got us to this point: the discipline, the toughness, taking care of the football, tackling.
Kids are impressionable nowadays. Everybody wants instant gratification. At this point of the year the only thing that works is continuing to go back to the things that have worked.
We just can't get bored with that. We have to continue to embrace that, understand how important it is. That's a huge part of being tough, is being disciplined enough to do the same things week in, week out, not stray from that, start to fray as a team. That's the focus. That's the coaches and the leaders, everybody involved in the program, to make sure we stay locked in on that.
Q. Do you really hound them now? There's some big games looming.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, for sure. Again, if you're where we're at right now, when you're undefeated at this point in the season, they're all big. If you don't think they're big, try losing one, see how that goes. They're all big.
We got to stay locked in on today's practice, this week, then we go from there.
Q. Big-time college athletics has gotten to the point where fun is a dirty word. This team seems to really enjoy what they're doing. Winning has a lot to do with that, camaraderie. How do you foster that? Do you have to remind yourself at times this is a game, they're supposed to have fun? Moving forward, how do you balance that? Is that an objective, to enjoy what you're doing?
RYAN DAY: It is. It is. I think there's a flow to that. What I mean by that is at different times of the season, fun is different. When you're having a mat drill at 5 in the morning on March 15th or something like that, or you're having a pre-season meeting at 8 at night August 7th, you can find ways to make that fun for the guys.
We always want to make sure those guys always leave here wanting more, they enjoy coming through the building, feel confident about their relationships here, it's an environment where they feel safe, want to come in and have fun every day, enjoy that.
This time of year fun is a little different. Fun is winning. Fun is being part of a team working towards a goal, working through adversity, those type of things. Not silly, goofy fun. There's a difference.
We've worked hard to get ourselves to this point. We owe it to each other to make sure we're locked in on that.
Q. Do you have to plan that? Is that something that's your personality? A few years ago there was the grind. Doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Is that who you are or is it something that when you look at your strategy, you actually work that in?
RYAN DAY: I think you can go through this profession, this life, go through seasons and all of a sudden you wake up in 10 years and you realize maybe you didn't have any fun. You have to do that. You have to wake up and smell the roses, enjoy what you're doing. That's a big part of it.
I don't think that's right now though. Where we're at, we've worked hard to get to this point. Now we've got to stay locked in. It is time to grind. It is very serious now.
But that's why you pay it ahead, you pay it forward. That's why in pre-season camp, we almost start every meeting here with guys dancing, having fun. You want those guys to realize this is a place where they can really enjoy it. They love coming to the building every day.
If you're vested into it that way, you like that, you're going to show up with energy. I think it makes for a better environment.
Q. About the CFP tonight, is there a sense of pride that y'all have put yourselves in the conversation, if you follow my drift? You are there, if you take care of business... Do you reinforce that with your team, too?
RYAN DAY: In the team meeting I said, Congrats, you're relevant in November. There's something to be said for that, absolutely. That's where you want to be right now in November, is be relevant. We are. That's good.
But the rankings and all that stuff really shouldn't be any of our focus.
Q. As you look at Maryland defensively, what is different about them this year that you can explain to folks that's caught your eye?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, they have a combination of four down, three down, kind of like a lot of people do. They give you a lot of different looks. I thought they played one of their better games last week. They were running around, playing hard. Even when they got down, guys are playing hard, running to the ball.
They're similar to last year in a little bit of their structure, but a whole new scheme in terms of the coaches that are involved with it. But good players. Again, they're playing hard. I thought they're getting better as the season is going on.
Q. Your players are human, obviously. How do you keep them on the right track from the standpoint of a lot of people are saying this is going to be easy? What is your message to them?
RYAN DAY: Again, you're dealing with 18, 19, 20 year old young men who you got to make sure you're on top of them. You're talking to them constantly about those things. It's a daily thing. It's not something we just have a canned message for the week. We approach every day the best we can. You walk in every day, something may have changed just with the way the team is operating, the feel of the team, the personality, how they are practicing, what's going on, the leadership. You just keep working on that on a daily basis, keep addressing it from there.
Q. ESPN survey came out which interviewed all the power five coaches, asked if you were in favor of playoff expansion or not. You were in favor of it. Can you elaborate on what you'd like to see from expansion long term?
RYAN DAY: I don't think now is the time to really get into all of that. But I do believe if you win your conference, you should get into some sort of playoff. I really don't want to get into that. That's a conversation for the off-season.
Q. Looking at the season Chase has had, last season he had two ankle injuries which limited what he was able to do on the field, the ability to cut. When you watch him this season, seems sort of obvious, but how much has that been a factor in his play this season?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it goes into it. Certainly having an injury slows you down, but then also being a year older, that matters. I think when you get into that third year, you see guys like J.K., Jeff Okudah, different guys have really taken off in that third year.
I think there's a little bit of injury, a little bit of being in the third year.
Q. You talked a lot about getting players out of the game, watching for injury, giving them rest. Is practice enough for these guys to stay sharp or do they need a certain amount of reps in a game? Do they need to stay in a certain amount of time?
RYAN DAY: That's a great question.
I think that guys need to play. They need to play in games, for sure. Every game we go into, we're ready to take the thing into the fourth quarter, win a game in the fourth quarter, play 60 minutes. We go from there. We try not to think too far ahead of that because then we start getting ahead of ourselves.
Same thing is going to happen this week, guys are going to be ready to roll, they're going to play for 60 minutes and we are going to win the game in the fourth quarter and go from there.
Q. Are you a guy that keeps track of numbers during the game? Is that a factor at all when you're thinking of playing time?
RYAN DAY: Rarely, rarely will that be something we take into consideration. If you're into that type of scenario in a game, it's really about what's best for the team and what's best for the individual in terms of keeping them healthy.
Q. As you enter into November, do you sense there's a heightened sense of urgency with your team?
RYAN DAY: You want some consistency, you want to keep that same routine in place. I think as the weeks go on, we continue to do well, I think there's more and more at stake. I think the guys feel that.
Q. You have worked Garrett Wilson in some spots in the return game, had a role offensively with receiver. When you have any player like that, I know your goal is win Saturday, that's it, but is there some kind of development plan for a career? Hey, we think Garrett Wilson, for instance, can really help us when he's a sophomore and junior, therefore we think as a freshman this is what would be best for him for when he gets older. How do you factor that in with an individual player to what you're trying to do as a team?
RYAN DAY: You try to get guys ready to play as soon as possible. Some guys come in midyear, some come in during the summer. There's a little bit of a learning curve there.
For the most part when someone comes in as a freshman, their ability level is at a certain level, then their skill and discipline is at another level.
We try to bring guys along as fast as possible. But in our program, there's so much time that's put in in the off-season so that when you get into year two, year three, you have such more vested into the program, you also have an advantage because physically, understanding the scheme, just the whole thing, leadership-wise, you've been through off-seasons with Coach Mick. That all matters.
It also matters within the program, too. Guys who have been here for a while, they have the right to have the first shot at things. As guys start to earn their stripes, they start to earn more and more. I think that's the way an organization should work.
Q. You and Mike Locksley, this is not unusual for coaches, you have lots of experience working with quarterbacks. Guys like that, when you are recruiting quarterbacks, the fact that you and Coach Locksley and other people have coached that position specifically, how does that help you in recruiting quarterbacks?
RYAN DAY: I think when you're recruiting somebody and they understand that the head coach is involved with that position, I think it matters because they understand it's going to be friendly that way.
You're going into a situation where the head coach isn't a defensive coach, where the quarterback maybe doesn't get as much attention or consideration, I guess. But certainly when the head coach has a quarterback background, that is going to be taken into consideration. 'Quarterback friendly' for lack of another term.
I think it does matter because you're going in there as the head coach with a background, a résumé of work with quarterbacks. I think in today's day and age, recruits want to see that. They want to know what you've done. It's one thing to say something, another thing to show them what you've done. You combine that with a position coach, I think it makes a big deal.
Q. We've been talking about the Maryland game last year. Coming off that game, you go out and beat Michigan, you win the Big Ten championship, win the Rose Bowl. Did you feel like as an assistant, was that a line in the sand, We can't live like this any more? We were lucky in some ways to win the game. You could have lost that game. What did that feel like coming off a nail-biter like that?
RYAN DAY: I mean, I think on offense, what it allowed us to do was I think Dwayne at that point established himself as a runner and was a little bit more of a threat. I thought that changed us on offense a little bit.
As a team, I think as a team we were always going and looking to attack. I thought to go into that game and win in two-minute drills, red zone, there was a lot of situations going on right there: short yardage, overtime.
You learn a lot about your team in a game like that. You have to gut it out. I think as tough as that game was, it catapulted us through the rest of the season like you're saying.
Q. Damon Arnette's story has been told quite a bit this year, how he was one step out the door. When you evaluate what he's done this year, what stands out to you the most?
RYAN DAY: I think it's so cool when you see somebody walk down a hallway saying, The best decision I made was coming back. He tells people around the facility that he loves them. I think that goes to show you how much he put into this program. Got his degree this summer.
To play the way he's played, to put the work in, then see all that stuff show up on the field, everything that he put in in the off-season on and off the field, to get to where he is right now, but then also play at a high level, it's a success story, one of many here at Ohio State.
Really proud of the way he's approached it. The strides he's taken the last year have been unbelievable. It's all well-deserved because he put a lot into it.
Q. You're playing against one of your former players, Keandre Jones. Sounds like that was a no-friction problem with him leaving. What would you want to say about him, the success he's had at Maryland?
RYAN DAY: Great to see him playing with a lot of passion, effort. Nothing but respect for he and his family. Got an opportunity to go closer to home. We supported that the best we could. Certainly didn't want to see him leave, but we also understand.
Glad that things are working out for him.
Q. A lot has been mentioned of the Maryland game last year. You talk about the defense playing with a chip on their shoulder all year. Does a week like this reinforce it? Do they go into the same, Man, what happened last year... Even though it's a game that you're favored heavily on, is there a feeling on the defense going into this game, Let's show where we've come from a year ago?
RYAN DAY: I think so. I think they know how dangerous the running game is. It was only a year ago they played against them. Ran for 300 yards. They know that. I don't think they're proud of that. They want to do a better job this time around, for sure.
Q. Off topic. This game is going to be over 3:00. There's a huge game, LSU-Alabama. How does Ryan Day unwind after a game? If there's a big game, Don't bother me, I want to watch this game? Will you take that in?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I've said this before: One of my favorite things to do is after a noon win, go home, sit in the recliner with the family, order food and watch games. I love that. That's some of my favorite memories.
We get in the car and go home, the family gets together, we turn up the music real loud after a win, drive up 315, sit on the couch, enjoy each other, turn the fire on, watch games. If you talk about being happy, that's me being happy on a Saturday afternoon.
Yeah, whatever game is on, we'll watch it. Hopefully that's the case on Saturday.
Q. You mentioned your admiration for Joe Burrow. Watching a game like that that he's playing in, does it give you more of a rooting interest or...
RYAN DAY: I've enjoyed watching Joe on TV, but also even watching his film, seeing what they're doing throwing the ball. He's doing a great job leading. You can tell he's doing a great job preparing. He is going to finish the year the right way. You can tell they're in a good place.
Q. Last year the Maryland game was one of several examples coming out of it thinking there's things need to be fixed with the defense. This year the defense is giving you a quarter's worth of concerns, for the most part shutting people down. How are you holding this team accountable? Are you finding new ways to test this defense in a way you didn't have to last season?
RYAN DAY: It's all about how you coach, in my opinion. What are you holding guys accountable to off the film? Is it just results or are you holding them accountable to executing on both sides of the ball, offense, defense, special teams.
There's certain times, we have talented guys, where guys can get away with talent. That's not good. We can't allow that to happen. Some of the worst experiences in the human experience is to get rewarded for bad behavior. When we see it on film, we got to address it. The players have to be open to that. Even though a play went well, that's not what we want here. We have to hold them to that standard. There's really good coaching and really good leadership.
Q. Is that something you saw guys buying into right away?
RYAN DAY: We've been talking about it for a long time, so yeah.
Q. You have some fifth-year guys who have key roles on this team. Aside from the games, what do those fifth-year guys do? How important is it to have those guys?
RYAN DAY: Well, I think they bring a maturity level that's off the charts. I think the work ethic and the investment they've put into this place, the seriousness, they know what it's supposed to look like, it's huge.
Their ability to step up and challenge some of the younger guys, get up in front of the team, talk to the team, that's when you go from good to great.
But if you want to make a run in November, you need to have those older guys who have been around, who take control of the team.
Q. Do you think the transfer portal is going to take some of that away? Even though you're adding more fifth-year seniors, they haven't put the years in with you, will that alter things?
RYAN DAY: Maybe a little bit. I don't think it's going to drastically change anything.
Q. Obviously the offense is scoring points. Looking at the passing attack, are you satisfied with the passing attack right now? Do you want more down the stretch?
RYAN DAY: I think it's all based on game plan, what we're seeing. We obviously want a balance. Last week it was raining sideways, we still had to be able to throw the ball, especially at the end of the first half there. I thought that kind of got us going.
Always tough to work on, run game and the pass game. We always want a balance there. So every week, every time we watch film, there's things to improve on. We're working at that.
Q. The wide receivers rotate. You referenced that earlier in the year. Are you still getting guys trying to knock on the door and ask for more chances? Can be a tricky position.
RYAN DAY: It can. When we look back at last year, we had six guys that kind of rolled, all worked out well for all of those guys. We continue to do that. When you have your opportunity, you have to make it count.
You look at other schools throughout the country, they don't have maybe as explosive of an offense as we have. We do the best job to get those guys out in space. They need to buy into it. When they have their opportunity, they got to go.
At this time of year they can't let their egos get in the way. That is what it comes down to. I though last year is a great example of that, Terry, Parris. Not one time did they ever say, We need more touches. Terry had a total of 35 catches last year. Amazing. Look at what he's doing now. He could have been in my office every week complaining. He didn't. But it all worked out for them. It all works out for these guys in the end if we continue to do that as a team.
Q. Chris Olave, when he comes out, does that shuffle the pieces around at wide receiver?
RYAN DAY: Just another guy has to step up, yeah. Or we may be get a few more targets for another guy if somebody goes down. But Jameson has kind of stepped up into that role and done a nice job.
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