Ohio State head coach Ryan Day held his weekly press conference on Tuesday afternoon, at which time he discussed the Buckeyes’ open week, Saturday’s game at Indiana (7:30 p.m. on ABC) and more.
Below is a list of five of the biggest takeaways from the presser:
What Ohio State Accomplished On Week Off
Ohio State’s schedule broke down perfectly this fall, as the open week falls directly at the midpoint of the regular season. And with six games down and six games to go before the postseason, the week off couldn’t have come at a better time for the Buckeyes, as it allowed Day and his staff to reflect and make any changes needed to face the looming stretch.
“The first thing, obviously, on a bye week is to evaluate where you’re at personnel-wise, schematically and how you’re coaching things to find tendencies and different things like that,” Day said. “But then you have the rest part of it at the midway point of the season. Make sure the guys are rested up.
“We also want to work on fundamentals, get some guys some work and do some teaching. We did that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so we’ve got a really big practice today. We got back at it yesterday, but today is a typical Tuesday practice. Looking forward to a lot of energy and spirit today.”
How The Buckeyes Are Approaching Second Half
Ohio State is set to face four ranked teams in the final five weeks of the season, including No. 7 Penn State on Oct. 30, No. 25 Purdue on Nov. 13, No. 9 Michigan State on Nov. 20 and No. 6 Michigan on Nov. 27. And that doesn’t even include a potential date with No. 11 Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 4.
But rather than look ahead, Day wants his team to focus solely on Indiana, which enters Saturday’s game 2-4 on the season but had all four losses come to teams currently ranked in the top 11 of the AP Poll.
“I think we’re in a lot better place than we were at the beginning of the season,” Day said. “We got some rest, so now it’s going to be a big run. But all we can do is – and you’ve heard the cliche a million times – take it one game at a time, one day at a time. That’s what we’re going to do.
“We have to go on the road, and it’s a night game there, and they’ll have a good atmosphere, kind of like the last few times we played on the road in a conference game. We’re going to get their best shot.”
Lessons Learned From Last Year’s Win Over Indiana
Ohio State jumped out to a 28-7 first-half lead against Indiana in last year’s pandemic-shortened season, only to allow the Hoosiers to climb back within seven points late in the 42-35 win.
Day acknowledged on Tuesday there were several lessons to be learned from the game, but also expects the same kind of fight out of the Hoosiers this time around, as well.
“We had a bunch of big plays early on, and then toward the end of the game, we were just kind of hanging on,” Day said. “We have to continue to be aggressive. Some of the decision-making in that game wasn’t very good.
“They’re a good defense. They have a good scheme and good players. We’re going to have to be on our game in terms of execution.”
Assessing C.J. Stroud’s Heisman Candidacy
After throwing for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns compared to zero interceptions in wins at Rutgers and over Maryland, redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud is starting to gain some publicity in the race for the Heisman Trophy.
It’s a far cry from the criticism he faced following Ohio State’s loss to Oregon earlier this season, which was one of three straight games to open the season in which he threw an interception.
“I think it goes back to the conversation that when someone gives criticism or praise, you have to treat it the same way,” Day said. “You have to stay focused. You have to stay poised. I use the term all the time, but you can’t ride that rollercoaster.
“Just like early on, there was plenty of criticism to go around, and now there’s praise coming. It’s the same thing in my mind, and that’s what we talk about. Staying focused, being disciplined enough to take it one week at a time. If you don’t believe that, go out and lose a game and then all of a sudden, you’re right back to where you started.
“That’s a challenge that not just C.J., but our whole team has had to embrace here.”
Ryan Day Taking A Step Back From Defense
Following that loss to the Ducks, Day rolled up his sleeves and got more involved in the day-to-day operation of the defense. But with that unit continuing to improve under the director of secondary coach Matt Barnes’ play-calling, he’s started to take a step back.
“I check in periodically, certainly after the games and at certain times during the week to find out where we’re at and conversations about the game plan and things that I see,” Day said. “But the last week or so, I’ve kind of stepped away a little bit and allowed them to operate.”
While there’s something to be said about putting the players in the right place to make a play, Day said he’s noticed the players are starting to have more confidence in their actions. And that, in turn, has made the unit better.
“I think they start to see themselves playing better. They’re starting to believe in the guy next to them. They’re starting to believe in themselves,” Day said. “Any time you can do that, that’s exciting and it brings energy. We have to pick up from where we left off a few weeks ago, and it starts with a great week of practice.
“The good news is that our guys believe right now. I think they’re excited about what these next six weeks can bring and certainly what this week is going to bring.”
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