Ryan Day shows frustrations with Ohio State defense, promises changes

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It would be an understatement to say that Ohio State football fans and — basically everyone else tied to the program — aren’t happy these days. The defense has looked like a soggy, overcooked noodle through the first two games of the season, and if we’re being real, through much of last year.

Ryan Day met with the media on Tuesday, and everyone was anxious to fire away with some questions about the defensive performance, and how he feels after getting a good look at the game film. Spoiler: He isn’t happy.

It’s not too often in college football that you don’t get the coach’s speak at a press conference. Typically, what’s going on behind closed doors remains there, with a polished exterior paraded before the media to deal with things in-house. Especially when things are not exactly giving everyone the warm and fuzzies on the field of play.

Day is no different, but he does provide some more insight than most coaches. In some ways, he’s right in the middle of what we saw with Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. He’s professional, isn’t completely tight-lipped, but doesn’t go out of his way to call out coaches or players. Tressel could answer a question without really answering it, and Meyer could at times be almost too brutally honest.

But that changed a little on Tuesday. The defense, both the coaching staff and the players, was the feature presentation at the presser. Day fielded several questions, in fact, the majority of them, about the defense. And while he didn’t go off the deep end with blustery commentary, his frustrations with what he’s seen were evident.

Right of the bat, the first question lobbed at Day revolved around his biggest concern about the defense.

“Well, I mean, giving up too many yards and too many points, that’s the bottom line,” Day told reporters. “I think now it’s not just a single game, it’s a little bit of a pattern. So, you know, took a long hard look the last 48 hours and everything that’s going on, and certainly gonna make some adjustments here. And, you know, not just how we’re attacking other offenses but also just structurally how we’re doing our day-to-day operations.”

It was a bombshell right off the bat and showed that Day is basically fed up with Ohio State’s defense not living up to the expectations that have been set from a historical perspective in Columbus.

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But that wasn’t the last good sound bite coming from his time at the podium on Tuesday. After all, you can’t lay that one out there and not expect the beat reporters, and very good ones for Ohio State, not to have their hunger taken care of with just a nibble of the full course meal.

Reporters continued to press on what “structurally” meant with day-to-day operations. Day said that he’s had to have some tough conversations with his staff.

“It’s just honest. Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t say they’re uncomfortable,” said Day. “They’re real. I mean, you put on the film, and if something doesn’t get fixed, it needs to get addressed. I have no problem having those type of conversations. It’s pretty simple to see what needs to get fixed.”

The frustration was there, but Day didn’t go as far as to specifically call anyone out, but made it clear that what’s going on right now is not going to cut it. In fact, when asked to kind of endorse defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, let’s just he stopped well short of doing so.

“Yeah, I’d rather not share the conversations,” Day said. “But yeah, I mean, when you look at the results over the last couple games, and then coming off last year, it’s not what we expect here. It’s not our expectations. And so I mean, that’s all part of looking at how we need to move forward with this thing.”

Are you feeling it? Day knows that this team isn’t going to be able to run the table and get into the College Football Playoff, let alone have a shot at winning the East Division and getting into the Big Ten Championship game again if the defense continues to play at the level we’ve seen. There are changes coming, and he isn’t happy that he has to deal with a part of the football team that he’s hired guys to trust and take care of.

“I’m not happy about that at all,” Day continued with reporters. “That’s part of the deal, is that I’m here for me to do what I do on offense. I need the defense really on point, I need the special teams on point, I need Mark Pantoni to do a great job in recruiting, Mick Marotti to handle strength and conditioning. And the minute that I get taken away from those type of things, then it affects everything else that’s going on on offense. And so, yeah, I mean, to be honest with you, I’m disappointed.”

And that about sums it up. One thing that makes Day a good leader is that he fights for his guys, including coaches when they do a good job. But he’s honest too and puts his thumb on things that need to be addressed.

It was evident that there are changes coming on the defense and it is all-encompassing potentially. From the coaching staff, to player personnel, to scheme, it’s all on the table to get things corrected so that Ohio State looks like the Ohio State we’ve seen over the last few years without more losses piling up.

“It’s nothing that different guys haven’t felt before, they’ve lost games before. But again, what it really does is it allows you the opportunity to address issues that are already there. And that’s what’s going on here. And so they got to get addressed. They got to get fixed. Because certainly, we don’t want it to happen again.”

So be ready Buckeye fans. There are changes coming, we just don’t know exactly what they are yet. Hopefully, it results in a better product on the field going forward.

It all starts when Ohio State hosts Tulsa on Saturday in the ‘Shoe.

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