Ohio State Buckeyes: Day vague about injuries heading into second week

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State football coach Ryan Day did not offer much concrete when it came to injuries Tuesday.

He kicked off the Buckeyes’ second game week of the season by indicating three potentially key third-year players are not suffering from long-term injuries — but their status for the next game is uncertain.

Here are five things to know from Day’s weekly press conference ahead of a visit from Arkansas State:

1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba likely out; Fleming in

The star junior receiver left Ohio State’s win over Notre Dame with an injury Day still did not want to identify specifically Tuesday, but quarterback C.J. Stroud later said it was a hamstring. Both characterized it as something that is not long-term, though sitting Smith-Njigba this week might make sense with tougher games ahead.

“You know I leave it up to the doctors and the medical professionals, but we will not bring him back if there’s any risk of him getting hurt further for the future,” Day said. “So we’ll make sure he’s 100% before we put it back in the game.”

Day also indicated Julian Fleming could make his season debut Saturday. Fleming, who was the top-rated receiver recruit in the country in the class of 2020 but has dealt with shoulder issues, was a game-time decision against Notre Dame but ultimately did not play.

“He went through warm-ups, and he was close,” Day said. “It tore his heart out not to be in this game. He had an unbelievable offseason, did a really good job this preseason. He tweaked something leading up to the game, and so we’re hoping to have him back on Saturday.”

2. Contingency plans at center

Second-year starter Luke Wypler was spotted in a walking boot after the game Saturday, but Day did not sound alarmed.

“When you come out of those physical games like that, there’s always bumps and bruises and things that we want to keep an eye on, but nothing long-term there.”

If Wypler is unable to play, he would be replaced by Jakob James, a sophomore from Cincinnati, or senior Matt Jones.

Jones is the starting right guard, so if he moved to center, junior Enokk Vimahi would enter the lineup at guard.

3. ‘Every single week, you gotta bring it’

Arkansas State is 1-0 after blowing out Grambling, a FCS program, last week, but the Red Wolves are projected to be one of the worst teams in FBS this season.

Nonetheless, Day said there is no time to take a deep breath.

“Every single week, you gotta bring it,” he said. “Otherwise, you don’t have a chance to be a champion. So we’re just going to draw upon that and figure out where we’re at, but I’m hoping that the maturity and leadership can lead the way this week.”

4. Good start for defense

All eyes were on the new-look stop unit for Ohio State after Day hired Jim Knowles to revamp the defense, and the Buckeyes responded by holding Notre Dame to 10 points and 253 yards.

“Watching the film, they played really hard,” Day said. “They played fast. They played decisive, similar to the way that we were talking about them leading up to the game.

“So, a good first start, but that just means we can do it. Now we’ve got to bring it every week.”

5. Day excited about expanded playoff

Late last week, the College Football Playoff board of managers voted to expand the playoff from four to 12 teams no later than the 2026 season.

Half the field will be conference champions who get automatic bids while the other half will be at-large teams, and the top four conference champs will get byes, but the season could extend into late January.

“I think it’s really exciting,” Day said. “I think there’s there’s a lot of work to be done to figure out a lot of things, but that’s why we have the best athletic director in the country to figure those things out. Not me.”


Arkanasas State at Ohio State, Noon, BTN, 1410

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