With his team preparing for Saturday’s game at Rutgers, Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day took the podium Tuesday for his weekly press conference to preview the Scarlet Knights.
But given the current state of the Rutgers program and the fact that Ohio State will enter the game as more than 50-point favorites, nearly all of the questions Day fielded revolved around his own team.
As Chase Young’s suspension continues to loom over the program, Day was asked immediately about the status of his star defensive end. But Day had no update to provide on the situation, calling it an “ongoing process.” However, Day did say Young will continue to practice with the team and that they are moving forward as if he will be back this week.
Despite the absence of Young last week against Maryland, the Ohio State defense turned in its best single-game sack performance of the season, registering seven of them. In the thick of it was defensive lineman DaVon Hamilton, who recorded two sacks.
Asked about the performance of Hamilton this season, Day called it “huge,” adding, “He’s really solidified the inside for us this year.”
Day went on to say of Hamilton, “The way he’s gone about his business is excellent, and now, to see him producing at such a high level, it’s just a great testament to him and the development of our program.”
With each passing week, Ohio State continues to impress with its ability to remain focused on the task at hand and avoid the stumbles that have derailed the past two seasons. That focus was further put to the test last week with the news of Young’s suspension, which Day said was the first time his team faced real adversity, adding it won’t be the last.
“We know there is more adversity coming along the way,” Day said. “We don’t know where, we don’t know when, but we talked to the team about that from early on. We were going to equip ourselves to be ready for any adversity that might hit us. That’s just the way these seasons go, and championship teams are resilient in times of adversity. It reveals your character.”
Left guard Jonah Jackson, who transferred to Ohio State from Rutgers ahead of this season, will be making his return to Piscataway, New Jersey, Saturday. Day said of what Jackson has meant to the offensive line this season, “I don’t want to overstate it, because I think what Josh (Myers) and Wyatt (Davis) and Thayer (Munford) and Brandon (Bowen) have done this year has been excellent. And maybe they’d be playing the same way if Jonah didn’t come, but there’s something about Jonah to me that’s really helped that group.”
Day said Jackson has equally benefited from coming to Ohio State, which has turned out to be a great fit, but he added, “I think he’s had a lot to do with the success of the offensive line this year.”
More than halfway into the press conference, Day was finally asked a direct question about the team he will be trying to beat Saturday.
Of the challenges his team faces in a game that is expected to be a blowout, Day said, “It just goes back to our execution, our discipline, what is our standard. We certainly have respect for everybody we play. I’ve known (Rutgers interim head coach) Nunzio (Campanile) a long time. He’s going to do a great job. Those guys are going to come out and play really, really hard.
“If we’re going to take anything for granted, (think) we’re going to just show up in Piscataway and win a game, that’s not going to happen. We have to do a good job. Those guys are going to play really, really hard. But at the end of the day, the focus is it comes back to us, what is your standard. We have to make sure we’re holding up that standard. We got a lot at stake here. We can’t put any of that stuff to risk. That’s something that the coaching staff has been hammering home with the players. To this point, they’ve respected that. They have to continue to.”
Kickoff for Ohio State and Rutgers is set for 3:30 p.m.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.