COLUMBUS — He might not have the same constant glare in his eyes that looks like it could ignite charcoal from 20 feet away like Urban Meyer, but let there be no doubt Ryan Day is as obsessed with pursuing football perfection as his predecessor or any other college football coach.
And he wants Ohio State’s football players to buy into that obsession. He says they have to if they want to win a fifth straight Big Ten championship and pursue a national championship again.
“We don’t have a choice,” Day said during a Zoom call last Friday when he wrapped up spring practice and looked ahead to OSU’s upcoming season. “It’s the desperation we have to wake up with every day as a coaching staff and players. I tell the guys every day that I wake up scared. People want what we have.
“The expectation has been set, we know that. It was the same expectation when I was fortunate enough to be the head coach a couple years ago and the expectation won’t change in 20 years here at Ohio State. We’re expected to be the best, and with that comes great responsibility. So we’ll wake up every day and just grind. I keep using the word obsessed. Our players have to become obsessed with maximizing themselves — in the weight room, watching film and getting themselves prepared to play against Minnesota (in the season opener Sept. 2).”
Day used the word obsession again when he talked about what he expects from the three young quarterbacks — C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord — who are competing for the starting quarterback job.
“They’re tasked with being obsessed with learning the offense. They have to get stronger, faster and quicker. They’re getting there but they’ve got a long way to go. We’re playing catch-up here. We obviously would love to have somebody (at quarterback ) who is in year two or three here but we don’t have that luxury. We have young guys and they have work to do,” he said.
It probably won’t be until the week before the Minnesota game that OSU names a starting quarterback.
“I think the idea is to get the guys ready. The race is to get ready to play. If we feel like someone has taken that much of a step ahead and they’re ready to play against Minnesota that first week then we’ll name a starter at that point. If it’s not until the week before, it’s not going to be until the week before,” Day said.
“It would be ideal to name somebody before that but until somebody puts themselves out in front of the other two we’ll just keep going. It’s a long process.”
The other big question mark for Ohio State is its back seven on defense, where all three starting linebackers have to be replaced and last year’s defensive backs did not play up to the standards expected at Ohio State.
Day said he liked what he saw from several players at those positions, including some young contenders for playing time.
“I think we have some really good young talent back there. The good news is the cavalry is coming on this thing and we’re going to have some really good depth back there. I was encouraged by what I saw back there. I thought some of the young guys really stepped up,” he said. “I was very encouraged by what we did this spring on defense in general.”