Ohio State focused on growth heading into Week 2

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — When the clunkiness of Ohio State’s season-opening win over Indiana came up Saturday, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day did not deny it.

Instead, he sighed heavily in the postgame interview room at Memorial Stadium.

“Yes,” he said when asked if he expected the 23-3 decision to look at least a little ugly. “I did anticipate some of this. Saw it going a little the way it did, but I thought we would get more points. I thought we would convert some of those. And we’re used to doing that here.”

For better or for worse, the workmanlike win over the Hoosiers was not the type of high-flying romp Ohio State has enjoyed most of the time during Day’s tenure.

The coach who is 46-6 at the Ohio State helm implied he was not going for style points, but he wouldn’t have minded getting a few, either, as his team tries to get back to the top of the heap in the Big Ten.

The only way to do that is to win games but doing it with a little more ease would serve to turn the temperature down a little around Day after two angst-ridden offseasons conducted in the shadow of ugly losses to Michigan.

The Wolverines, who beat Eastern Carolina 30-3 in Ann Arbor on Saturday, will be there waiting at the end of the season no matter what else happens.

What kind of team will Day be taking north on the last Saturday of November?

“You don’t need to be playing your best football in the first game of the year, but you got to grow from it,” Day said. “You got to make sure that win is under your belt because in a few weeks nobody cares. The win’s a win, and then you move on, but the goal is to get it and then we got to grow.”

Saturday produced the type of game Ohio State regularly played under head coach Jim Tressel from 2001-10. Fans were conditioned for such efforts then, and they accepted them along with seven Big Ten championships, nine wins over Michigan and one national title.

They also embraced Urban Meyer’s offensive machine coming to Columbus in 2012, looking forward to more action when the Buckeyes had the ball and hoping for the same level of winning, if not more.

And yet Meyer chimed in Saturday on social media with, “The best thing about being 1-0…”

That was the first half of something Meyer said many times during his tenure.

The second half: “…is the chance to go 2-0.”

While a similar result wouldn’t cause many to think twice in the Tressel era, Meyer, like Day, hung his hat on high-scoring offenses.

The three-time national championship coach was also known as a maniacal presence off the field who drove his assistants and players hard all the time in hopes of getting everything out of them.

Tressel’s teams were more defense-oriented, but Day has given off more of “The Senator”'s laid-back vibe than Meyer’s hard-driving style.

Truth be told, after five seasons as the head coach, Day’s coaching ethos may still be in development, a rough draft with an unknown amount of revisions yet to be made before being sent to the publisher.

He arrived as an offensive wunderkind who revamped the final version of Meyer’s once-innovative spread offense, which was always a run-first scheme but featured many big passing plays created by one-on-one opportunities on the outside.

When Day replaced a retiring Meyer, his offenses did not miss a scoring beat, but he did tweak the attack somewhat, ironically adding more “old school” elements like getting under center and utilizing multiple tight ends.

That evolution continued Saturday when the Buckeyes used a significant amount of two-tight end sets and even scored two touchdowns out of the I formation.

But it was clunky. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.

Before facing Youngstown State in the home opener Saturday, he and his coaching staff will be charged with determining why and what to do about it.

“Yeah, that’s the journey,” Day said. “That’s the part I like. Going back now and figuring out okay, where are we at? What did we anticipate? What you can’t do is take a bunch of chances and be reckless and all of a sudden put yourself at risk of losing a game. Can’t do that.”

There he sounded more like Tressel than himself, or at least the self Day has been assumed to be.

“Probably could have been a little bit more aggressive at times today, but the No. 1 goal is to get the win and then move forward,” he said. “There’s going to have to be times we’re going to have to be more aggressive for sure.”

While the offense made him sigh, Day’s defense had him smiling after holding the Hoosiers to 158 total yards and a field goal.

“I mean if we play defense like this, we’re gonna have a chance,” Day said. “Certainly (there are) bigger challenges ahead.”


Youngstown State at Ohio State, Noon, BTN, 1410

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