Quick hitters from Ryan Day post-spring game press conference

IMG_7408by:Andy Backstrom04/13/24


COLUMBUS — Head coach Ryan Day answered questions about the Buckeyes after the Ohio State spring game and, in turn, the completion of the spring season.

Lettermen Row has a roundup of Day’s comments.

What Day said after the spring game…

+ Day was asked about quarterback Will Howard’s pocket presence. Day said that’s something that’s difficult to teach, but it does help when you’re north of 6-foot-4. Over the spring, Howard’s timing is getting better, Day said. The wind was blowing pretty hard today, Day noted, and there were some underthrown passes. But, overall, good comfort level in the Horseshoe from Howard, Day explained.

+ Day said his team’s experience stands out the most going into the summer. The season could be as long as 16 or 17 games, and the No. 1 thing is to stay healthy, so depth will be paramount. For that reason, the first-team offense and defense didn’t play much in the exhibition. “That’s our job as coaches to kind of hold them back,” Day said.

+ Day said he thought all the running backs did a nice job today, and it was the first opportunity for true freshmen James Peoples and Sam Williams-Dixon to get tackled. They both scored touchdowns in the second half.

+ Day said he wanted to get his young quarterbacks in a rhythm in the second half, especially after Julian Sayin and Lincoln Kienholz both threw interceptions. It was gusting pretty good in the ‘Shoe, Day noted again. He said he’s happy with the snaps on film for his quarterbacks, although they weren’t able to stretch the field vertically as much as they wanted to.

+ Day was asked about the increased emphasis on the quarterback run in the Ohio State offense, which showed up in the spring game. “When you have a quarterback who can run, it does change the numbers,” Day said. “It’s going to be a weapon for us this year because all of our quarterbacks are athletic enough to do that.”

+ Day was asked about where he’s at on the offensive line, and if he has a projection for what that group is going to look like. Day said he doesn’t right now. They are going to watch the film and go back and evaluate the entire spring.

+ When asked about Josh Fryar and where he’ll play, Day said, “We know that Josh can play right tackle, and he’s done that before. But we want to find the best five. We feel like Josh is one of our best five.” Fryar has also played right guard this spring, but he spent the spring game at right tackle.

+ Day was asked about balancing using the quarterback run and using it too much. Day said they were doing some open-side reading of the defensive end, and if the defense decides to crash it and make the quarterback run the ball, then that’s their decision. If that’s going on too much, Day explained, they have ways to handle that, like bringing a tight end over to block to make sure the running backs are getting enough carries.

+ Day was asked about second-year cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt, who had an interception during the exhibition. Day said he’s growing every day and noted that this was Simpson-Hunt’s first full spring, similar to quarterback Lincoln Kienholz and defensive tackles Kayden McDonald and Jason Moore. Simpson-Hunt is getting more comfortable with the calls. Ohio State has depth at cornerback, Day emphasized. Jermaine Mathews Jr. is an option at “nickel” behind Jordan Hancock, and so is Lorenzo Styles Jr., who missed the spring game after having a “little procedure” done.

+ Day was asked about wide receiver depth, which he said is a legitimate question. Day: “When you have Emeka [Egbuka] and Carnell [Tate] and then Jayden Ballard and Jeremiah [Smith], and then you get into Bryson Rodgers, who has done some really good things this spring — I know he had a couple tough plays today, but we think he can really help us next year. We’re missing Brandon Inniss. He was having a lot of momentum, and then [had] a procedure we just felt like out of caution we had to get done. We just didn’t want it to linger, so we did that. So we’ll need him to step up in a big way.” But they’ll also need other guys to step up, and he pointed out that Ohio State will be getting Mylan Graham and Damarion Witten — who will play a little receiver and a little tight end for the Buckeyes — this summer.

+ Day said Ballard took a step over the last week. “He needed to make some plays to say, ‘OK, I’m here, and you can count on me.’ He made a contested play in the red zone in practice. Ballard made a big play on a post route the other day, too. With his deep speed down the field, he can stretch the defense, and Day said Ohio State needs Ballard to do that.

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