Ryan Day did not wait for the question.
The Ohio State football coach jumped right in Tuesday when he met the media for the first time in Week 5.
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“Got a real big challenge ahead of us this week,” Day said. “By far the best team we’ve played, not only talent and coaching but also the environment we’ll be walking into.”
The team is Nebraska, the coach is Scott Frost and the environment is Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Saturday night.
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Here are five things to know from Day’s press conference:
1. He gave Frost a shout out right off the bat.
The Cornhuskers were 4-8 last season and are 3-1 so far this year with a loss to a so-so Colorado team in the second week of the season.
Nonetheless, Nebraska is viewed as a team on the rise thanks in large part to Frost, a former NU quarterback who became a star in the coaching community by leading Central Florida to an undefeated season in 2017.
“Scott’s done a great job of building this team up,” Day said. “He’s increased the talent. They’ve got some really good players on both sides of the ball. They do a really good job of stretching you horizontally and get you with tempo on offense and then on defense giving you a lot of different looks. So this is going to be by far the biggest challenge of the year for us going on the road, night game, at one of the toughest places to play in the conference.”
2. He seems to see Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez as the total package.
“First off he’s big and strong and powerful,” Day said of the sophomore from California. “He’s very athletic, so in terms of the run game, his ability to extend plays with his feet, you’ve gotta be able to get him on the ground, which is not easy.
“He’s explosive, he’s fast, he’s strong. He’s got good running skills and makes good decisions. And then throwing the ball, he’s really accurate so I think when you combine that together of his ability to run and throw with his intelligence and game management he is by far the best quarterback we’ve seen.”
3. Day is concerned about Ohio State not having played a full game yet.
The 4-0 Buckeyes are winning by an average of more than 44 points per game, and many starters have taken a quarter off if not two in blowouts of Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, Indiana and Miami University.
“That’s unique,” Day said. “It’s something that we’re going to talk to the guys about is that we have to be able to play 60 minutes and prove that we can play 60 minutes. That has not happened. The good news is we’ve been picking up some depth and we’ve been building depth in these four games and guys have played so that we feel a little better about putting guys in the game when we need to and we can roll guys.
“But to your point, we haven’t been in the fourth quarter in a game where we’ve had to really grind and work through all that adversity. So that’s a challenge going on the road this week because we will this week.”
4. He confirmed Isaiah Pryor has left the team.
A junior from Lawrenceville, Ga., Pryor started seven games at safety last season before being injured and losing his job to Brendon White.
He came off the bench in four games this season and reportedly entered the transfer portal after Ohio State’s 76-5 win over Miami University on Saturday.
“We wish him nothing but the best,” Day said. “We’re obviously extremely disappointed that he would leave the program four games in, but we just want to make sure he has everything he needs, and there’s no ill will there.
“He left amicably, so we’ll just kind of support him the best we can and wish him nothing but the best of luck getting his degree and moving on.”
With Pryor gone, the back up to senior captain Jordan Fuller at free safety is sophomore Josh Proctor. They were listed as co-backups last week on the depth chart.
5. Day is OK with the effect of the new redshirt rules on transfers such as Pryor’s.
Beginning last season, players may participate in up to four games without losing the ability to redshirt, so by leaving the team at this point, he will still have two seasons to play at his next destination.
The rules change means freshmen can get a taste of college football without losing a year, and it gives coaches more roster flexibility both at the beginning and end of the season.
It also means situations such as Pryor’s can arise, but Day did not complain.
“I think this an example of where that hurts you a little bit, but I think it’s the best thing for the kids,” he said.
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