COLUMBUS – One of the themes Ryan Day has emphasized since before Ohio State even played a football game this season is that OSU needs to have an attitude of never letting up and never playing with less than 100 percent intensity.
“Competitive stamina” is the term he uses to describe this mindset.
With Arkansas State coming to Ohio Stadium for a noon game on Saturday one week after the Buckeyes played Notre Dame, “competitive stamina” probably will be heard more than ever before.
Arkansas State (1-0) is obviously not Notre Dame. But No. 3 Ohio State (1-0) can’t think that way, Day said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“No matter who you play, we have to play the same way, period,” he said. “Bring it every single week, no matter who you’re playing, whether it’s the No. 2 team in the country, the No. 1 team in the country, or somebody that’s not ranked. We’ve got to bring it 12 times in the regular season, regardless of who we’re playing.”
Looking back at OSU’s 21-10 win over Notre Dame, Day said, “That was a job well done but that doesn’t mean anything this week. Nothing we did last week matters. It goes back to that term competitive stamina. Can we bring it every single week?” It’s been about us, it’s always been about us. We’ll continue to use that message this week.”
Some other thoughts from Day:
• Defense impressive: He said he liked what he saw from Ohio State’s defense against Notre Dame in Jim Knowles’ first game as defensive coordinator.
“It was a great start. I think that when we talked about it leading up to the game, that’s the start we were looking for. Watching the film they played really hard, they played fast, similar to the way we were talking about it leading up to the game. It’s a good start but that just means we can do it. Now we’ve got to do it every week,” Day said.
• Smith-Njigba update: Leading receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who played only briefly against Notre Dame after being injured early in the game, will play against Arkansas State only if he is 100 percent healthy.
“I leave it up to the doctors and the medical professionals. We will not bring him back if there is any risk of him getting hurt further for the future. We’ll make sure he’s 100 percent before we put him back in the game,” Day said.
• Other injuries: Center Luke Wypler was wearing a walking boot after the Notre Dame game. Like Smith-Njigba’s injury, it is not expected to be a long term situation.
If Wypler doesn’t play Saturday, Matthew Jones could move to center from guard and Enokk Vimahi could replace Jones in the starting lineup. Or Jakob James could start at center.
Often-injured wide receiver Julian Fleming did not play against Notre Dame in a game-time decision.
“He went through warm ups and he was close. It tore his heart out not to be in that game. He had an unbelievable off season and did a really good job in preseason. He tweaked something leading up to the game. We’re hoping to have him back on Saturday,” Day said.
• Twelve-team playoff: Day said he likes the idea of a 12-game College Football Playoff but thinks there are a lot of details to be worked out.
“I think it’s exciting, really exciting but I think there’s a lot of work to be done to figure out a lot of things,” he said.