Last week, the Buckeye football players focused on conditioning, while their coaches hit the recruiting trail. It's this week that preparations for their Fiesta Bowl date against Clemson kicks into high gear. What did Ohio State head coach Ryan Day have to say about that? And what are his thoughts on the impending departure of his co-defensive coordinator, friend, and future Boston College coach Jeff Hafley?
Here are some of the highlights of today's press conference:
- Day said that he will look to replace Hafley as quickly as they can, "But we're going to get the best in America, because we're Ohio State...We'll be fine."
- Much like former head coach Urban Meyer, Day has built some redundancy in his coaching staff, so that when departures inevitably happen, things still run smoothly.
- Because Buckeye assistants will always be candidates elsewhere, Day constantly updates a list of coaches he would consider adding to his staff, so he already has some idea of who he wants to bring on board now.
- Asked by Bruce Hooley if Day would approve linebackers coach Al Washington heading to Boston College to be Hafley's defensive coordinator, Day said yes, but added that he'd be "very, very surprised" if that was Washington's mindset.
- Day doesn't feel like the five defensive backs they have recruited ahead of signing day have balked at Hafley's departure, especially because there will be playing time available in the secondary next season.
- Bowl games are rewards for a successful season. However, making sure the players enjoy themselves this year is secondary to making sure they have a season they can remember forever. "This [bowl game] is a little different, because there's a lot on the line here," Day said. As an example of that, he mentioned players' curfews are going to be a little earlier.
- Though they didn't really have bowl practice last week, it was still hectic for Day. "Craziest week I've ever been a part of." He was on the awards circuit, and making a final push to keep all players in the fold for this Wednesday's signing day. "Every second mattered."
- Day said he wasn't sure how the offense has changed since the Buckeyes lost 31-0 in 2016 to Clemson, because he wasn't on that staff, and he didn't even really watch that game closely. He did, however, explain what he thought has made the OSU offense successful the last couple seasons: They've tailored game plans to who the quarterbacks are. "We've adopted the offenses to who we have."
- This week is being treated like a game week in terms of how they're handling their workload and practice schedule.
- Justin Fields sprained his MCL against Penn State and had to wear a heavy brace against Michigan and Wisconsin. He should regain full mobility for the Fiesta Bowl. "With this rest, I think he's going to be back to 100 percent."
- Have teams figured out how to neutralize Chase Young? Day acknowledged that opponents have put more resources into containing the defensive end, but said that opens up more opportunities for others.
- Day was really happy to see Joe Burrow win the Heisman, and pleased that Burrow's speech highlighting the poverty in Appalachia has resulted in increased donations to food pantries in southeast Ohio. "There's not a classier guy out there," Day said.