Ohio State football entered its fourth game week of the season with a goal that sounds similar to the first three.
Coach Ryan Day wants the sixth-ranked Buckeyes (3-0) to worry first and foremost about getting better when they take on Miami University (1-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
He explained that and more in his weekly press conference to kick off the week:
1. With the way to play established, coaches can focus on fundamentals.
Day said multiple times Tuesday while he is happy with the effort his team has displayed, too many mistakes are evident on the film.
“It’s just alignment, assignment, execution, fundamentals, just all those things,” Day said. “When we’re focusing on playing hard and playing tough and playing physical, you’re not talking about those other things.”
That changes as the season goes on.
“Knock the guy back if you’re an offensive lineman, “Day said. “If you’re a running back, take that ball, put it up to your chin and run as hard as you can. Without that, we have no chance. Now, can we do that with also high-end execution, high-end fundamentals? If we can do that, then we can take the next step.”
2. That matters because he feels Ohio State can be the best team in the country.
“We’ve talked about it before, that we want to be the best at what we do, and we’ve talked about what that means, whether it’s a sniper in the military or the best surgeon,” Day said. “There’s no small surgeries if you’re a surgeon. There’s no small games at Ohio State. If you’re the best in America, you need to show that every week. That’s our goal. And we’re not ashamed to say that. We want to be the best.”
And the key to that, whether a team is preparing to play the 2019 Miami RedHawks, the 2001 Miami Hurricanes or the 1972 Miami Dolphins, is to put quality practices together week after week.
“If you can just focus on this practice right now, have a great Tuesday, because when we’ve played good, we’ve had good Tuesday practices, we’ve had good Wednesday practices,” Day said. “When you put that in the bank, when you get into the game, that’s what you can fall back on.”
3. He is happy Master Teague stepped up to claim the No. 2 running back job.
“I think we all kind of had an idea what we had, but it was hard because of these nagging things that were going on and we couldn’t get him practicing and get him going,” Day said of the redshirt freshman from Tennessee who logged his first 100-yard game Saturday at Indiana. “The way we’ve been talking about it leading up to this week, we said he had 3-4 weeks of practice in and he was just about ready to get going, and he did. And so that was exciting to see for sure.”
While J.K. Dobbins ran for 193 yards and two touchdowns in Bloomington, Teague added 106 yards and a touchdown.
4. Day does not expect the RedHawks to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere at Ohio Stadium.
Coach Chuck Martin’s team has played at Iowa twice (including the 2019 season-opener) and been to Minnesota and Notre Dame in the past four seasons, so it should not be in awe of the environment in Columbus.
“They’ve been to tough environments before, so they’re not going to be intimidated coming into the ‘Shoe,” Day said, noting that like Week 2 opponent Cincinnati, the Miami roster has plenty of Ohioans who will be motivated to play well against the Buckeyes.
“We’ve got to adjust to the 3:30 schedule and do a good job of preparing and get ready to play a good game,” Day said.
5. A decision is coming about which freshman will continue to play.
Three blowouts have allowed the coaching staff to play many players at just about every position so far this season, but the limit of four games to preserve eligibility for a redshirt is coming.
“That conversation is going to be happening pretty soon,” Day said. “These guys came here to play, and so we want to play with depth and we want these guys to play. When in doubt, we’re probably going to play them if we think they can help us this season and really create depth. If we think it’s a situation where we’re already three deep at one position and he’s probably not going to get on the field other than maybe at the end of a game, then we probably won’t. We’ll try to be really smart about that. We wouldn’t want to burn anybody’s redshirt, but at the same time, the more experience they get this year, the better they’ll be next year.”
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