Big Ten Media Days will commence tomorrow at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana and will go on for two full days with half of the teams being highlighted on Wednesday and the other half on Thursday. Head coach of the Ohio State football program, Ryan Day will get his opportunity to address the media at 12:30 pm, making him the final of seven coaches on day one.
Following each 15-minute nationally televised press conference, each coach along with the three representatives chosen by each school will get smaller more intimate settings where the media can pepper them with questions. This is where you will usually see and hear the media ask more difficult questions covering more topics. Here are three questions that the media needs to ask Ryan Day.
Question 1: Have you addressed your team’s inability to stop the big play in key moments against better competition? If so, how?
This question fulfills two purposes. First, it addresses what happened at the end of the season against That Team Up North. In both instances in the past two seasons, the Ohio State football team’s defense has looked outmanned against the Wolverine offense.
First, in 2021, TTUN dominated the offensive line. Then last season they scorched the secondary after the Ohio State football team loaded the box to stop the run. No matter what Kerry Coombs, and then Jim Knowles, attempted to call, Jim Harbaugh seemed to be one step ahead.
Whether this got into Day’s head or not, it was apparent that he was coaching not the lose rather than coaching to win. Forcing him to acknowledge this point by answering this specific question concerning the defense will give you more insight as to what he and the defensive coaching staff are thinking as far as making adjustments when it comes to the final game of the regular season.
If Day shrugs off this question, then the obvious follow-up would be, “So to clarify, you do not believe you need to make any changes on the defensive side of the ball in order to stop the big play against teams like Michigan and Georgia?”
Day can give a masterclass on how to answer a question without really answering the question. Most of the great head coaches can do this, especially if they have coached in the NFL. So, it is critical to have follow-up questions ready in order to seek more clarification.
When this is done correctly, I have seen Day smile or smirk, and then say something like, “You’ll have to wait and see.” That means he doesn’t want to reveal the true answer because it would give away what he perceives as a schematic advantage against an opponent. I can see that happening here in an exchange of questions and answers.
Question 2: When choosing a starting quarterback, what qualifications and boxes do you check mark when making that decision?
Let’s be honest, there is no way Day is going to let the cat out of the bag as to who he thinks he is going to name as the starter. Asking that specific question is a complete waste of time. You can, however, at least find out what Day will be looking for when he does make that decision.
Finding out what he believes are the best qualities, traits, and skills in order to be QB1 at the Ohio State football program will aid in how you believe he is leaning. For instance, does he mention things like time in the program? If he does, then that is one more check mark for Kyle McCord over Devin Brown.
In the past, Day has been asked a similar question, but it was in regard to what skillset he is looking for in a quarterback recruit. That is different than the set of skills he is looking for when choosing a starter. Another way to ask this question without asking it would be, what did you see in Dwayne Haskins that led you to choose him over Joe Burrow back in 2018? Again, these insights could help you better determine who might be in the lead in this year’s quarterback battle.
Question 3: This past spring you talked about your concern about the lack of experience you had on the offensive line. It was apparent that you tried to address that concern by picking up a couple of offensive line transfers who have Division I starting experience in Josh Simmons and Victor Cutler. Are you less concerned heading into the season?
You never try to ask a question that isn’t open-ended. But in this case, a simple no-answer could be very telling. If Day says yes, he would follow it up by talking about some of the strides he has seen by some of the guys who are battling for starting positions, which obviously means that he and offensive line coach Justin Frye are indeed seeing improvement on an offensive line that finished the spring as being the greatest concern by most Ohio State football fans.
If Day brings up a surprise name that wasn’t being talked about during the spring, then that means someone new has emerged to possibly become a starter. Someone like Enokk Vimahi or George Fitzpatrick for example.
If Day starts talking about one of the transfers, then that more than likely means someone like Simms has taken the lead over Tegra Tshabola and Zen Michalski for the open tackle position. If he avoids talking about individuals altogether, that could be a really bad sign. It means no one has really taken the bull by the horns and the perceived concern on the offense line remains.
These are three questions that need to be asked by the media tomorrow. If you are watching or listening to the audio, keep an ear out for these three questions or questions such as these that are formulated differently. The answer that Day gives or the lack of an answer can be very telling if you are paying attention.