Ohio State University Football Media Conference
Q. You ready to declare a starting quarterback?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Didn’t take long. Yeah, you know, again, second week in, I think probably what we’re going to do is get through the weekend and then on Monday probably make a final decision, but the guys are competing really, really well. I think, you know, Justin is practicing at a high level now and had a nice couple really good days here.
So we’ll get through the weekend. We’ve got to name captains here in the next couple days, as well and we’ll get back here on Monday and probably have an update for you. But like to make the decision and make the announcement on Monday.
Q. The guys the competing for the to job, how do you feel overall about the quarterback position?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: I feel good. I feel better than I did last week at this time. I think the guys are getting more and more reps under their belt. I do think Justin has taken a stride in the last couple days and the last week. He’s moving the team nicely. Taking care of the ball better the last couple days. Throwing the ball on time. Improvement’s there and leadership is improving.
So you know, we’ve got a padded practice tomorrow, a padded practice on Saturday, and then we’ll regroup and then go ahead on Monday.
Q. Continuing with the quarterbacks, how involved is Chug in that backup race?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, Chris has been here now for a year, a year and a half, I guess. Maybe I guess less than that. Probably about a year. Seems longer than that, when you think about last August, I guess he came in.
Yeah, but he’s been here a while. He knows what’s going on. He actually had a chance to change his body in the off-season and he’s done a good job. Done some good things. Had a sprained ankle and so he missed a couple practices, but yeah, he’s battling. He wants to play. He’s not here just to kind of just take up a spot. I think his leadership’s been good. He’s been throwing the ball well, and I’ve been impressed with his approach and how he came into this camp.
Q. You talk about the running backs — is part of that just because Master has been out? He seems like a guy who could be top of that list for you.
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, hard to tell because he just hasn’t practiced very much. And so really don’t have an evaluation on him with the spring and now. You know, he’s getting there but he still isn’t full go. You’ve got Demario and you’ve got the two young guys but the biggest thing is going to be ball security in the end; who do we trust? We give the ball to him.
Right now, there is no backup running back. I think all three guys, four guys, with Master when he gets healthy wants that spot, but they have got to learn to take care of the ball and we have to learn to be able to trust them.
Q. Have you been raising your voice much today?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yes. This is practice 11. Camp voice here. I apologize.
Q. I know with whatever is going on with Austin that Chris Olave is going to need to step up. Just wondering with the way he ended last year, I know he missed time in the spring but is he looking like somebody who could be a No. 1 receiver on this team right now? Where is he at?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think so. I think he finished that way last season but it’s different when you come in and you know you’re counted on right from the beginning. It’s not easy, but it’s one thing to come in in the backup role, closer role but another thing to be the starter. So in this offense, we’re looking for 1s. We’re looking for starters.
Last year when you think back, Terry and Johnny, they both started. K.J. and Paris, they both started. Ben and Austin both started. Chris is practicing right now at a starter level and I think that’s been good for us. And you know, we’ll obviously want to get Austin back here in the next week or so and solidify that Z position.
Q. When you look at the trajectory of some of the receivers who have gone through the program, guys like the three that left last year, really came on their senior years; when you see a kid who comes in and flashes and is special as a freshman, does that set him apart just from a coaching standpoint of like, wow, that guy, we can tell already the second he got on campus there’s something different about him? Does Chris have that?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: He does. He does. Right from the jump, you can see his ball skills, the way he can track a ball down the field was off the charts.
But he was 165 I think when he got here, maybe even less. And so we were just worried about him holding up. When you look at the size of Terry and Paris, how big they were compared to Chris when he first got in here, we realize he had a lot of work to do physically.
But he’s strong. He’s not real thick but he is really strong. He came in, pretty sure he bench-pressed 225 like seven times when he got here, like 165, which is unique. So he has power, and then he put on the weight and got stronger and it changed his body. Now we think he’s an every-down receiver.
Q. You kind of found him on accident? Big change in your offense —
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, really cool. Really cool. To see where he came and to watch that evaluation and see — you know, we saw something in the spring and obviously didn’t play his junior year but then saw his first couple two, three games and recognized his skill and his talent level and his film was off the charts. Had some coaches go out and watch him play and then to see a guy who really wasn’t that highly-recruited turn into a really good receiver is pretty gratifying, yeah.
Q. When you try to evaluate the quarterbacks and how they are moving the offense down the field, just with the way you practice, how much room is there, particularly for a guy like just tin to sort of view athleticism — protecting and managing what little depth you have at that position?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Well, I think in this offense, you know, you don’t want to be paint by numbers with an athletic quarterback. You want to have him — you want him to have the ability to kind of make plays with his feet and ad lib a little bit but also stay within the offense.
I think that’s the key to a guy like that, when you think of the Russell Wilsons of the world and mobile quarterbacks who can create, I think you want to give him the opportunity to play within the offense, but then also, you know, make plays with their feet and then I think Justin gives us that opportunity. But at the same time, he’s smart. He’s going to know and he’s going to have to put his pads down and run and when he has to get down, slide, get out of bounds and that’s part of playing quarterback.
Q. Are you able to get a feel for that? I know you want to protect these guys — how much of a feel do you want to get for his ability?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: To do what? Create?
Q. To create —
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, you’ve got to feel for it. You’ve got to feel for it. It’s not always perfect. Sometimes Chase Young or Jonathon Cooper will be coming in, screaming sack, but we’ll let the play go to see what happens and kind of create from there. You get to see it, see throws on the move, awkward throws and so we’ve had to teach scramble technique with the guys to stay with the play because it’s always going to be a lot.
Q. Nothing to do with camp, but when K.J. and David both came back in the spring, they each mentioned Chris Carter and the guidance that he gave them. Did you guys as a staff or a program try to break Chris into the fold?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Chris has been around the program. He’s spoken to the team before and I think those conversations were between Chris and the players, and I wasn’t involved in those conversations but obviously appreciate all his support. He means a lot to the program and he’s a good friend.
Q. Your three starting linebackers from last year, how much are those guys getting pushed from the young guys?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, there’s good depth there. Guys are practicing hard at linebacker. Proud of the way those guys are running around and they are trying to really practice tough. That’s been a huge emphasis pulling on defenses to be the toughest defense in the country and toughest defense in the Big Ten.
I think they are practicing that way. I think the young guys are flashing; they are running around. The good news for them is that they are all learning the defense for the first time. So they all kind of start at the same level. The experience level is different, but there’s some talent there and so just like any other position; if we can play depth, I think the guys believe that that helps.
You know, it’s not like guys are being territorial. Although they want to be the starter, I think they understand they need each other and the more depth they have at each position, the stronger the position will be, especially down the stretch.
Q. Do you have a pecking order there?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: No.
Q. Do you still devote time to Michigan, or is that strictly during the season or are you doing that now?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: We are. We do it in the preseason. We do it in the spring.
Q. Have you looked ahead at any particular teams on the schedule?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Not yet.
Q. Film work?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Not yet. We do that during June and May, we’ll look ahead a little bit. But the first couple weeks are based on us trying to get better fundamentally and going against the defense and once we get into the third week, we start looking ahead and get into scouts.
Q. Where do you stand with Thayer Munford? What is his situation? I know you don’t get into injuries but how concerned are you that he may not be able to answer the bell, season-opener?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Not concerned. He’s been practicing well. He’s practicing hard. He’s got some volume control, but I think Stud and our trainers have done an excellent job of making sure that we ease him back in but he looks strong and so far he’s had a good camp.
Q. Update on Chase Young. Obviously he played last year with two sprained ankles, or two dinged up ankles most of the year. What are you seeing about him that’s different now, a fresh Chase Young?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Mature. Very mature. He’s a leader. Gets up in front of the team. Talks to the team, feels like almost every other practice. He’s the voice of our defense right now. That’s what I feel. That’s what I see. I see a guy who is practicing really, really hard, and got a really mature approach and he’s shown a lot of leadership.
Q. Chris Olave, you kind of discovered him, for wont of another team. Do you tell your guys all the time: Go out on the recruiting tail with your eyes wide open and not focused on one guy? How do you approach that?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: I think you always do that. You ask a lot of questions. You talk to high school coaches, you know, who are the best players in the area. You talk to different people to find out — especially the people you trust.
But in recruiting there’s a lot of different skills. There’s the communication you. There’s the connection that you make. But there’s also evaluation and I think evaluating is really critical nowadays, and I think we did a great job of evaluating him.
And I think that’s one of the parts that sometimes is lost right now because there’s so many Internet sites where they rank guys and there’s rivals and so you could easily pull up rankings and figure out where guys are recruiting-wise. You’ve got to trust what you see and you’ve got to evaluate guys and you’ve got to ask questions of the coaches. And his coach, Coach Hauser, very respected guy, had great things to say about him, his work ethic, the way he went to work every day, four-sport athlete. You start adding those things up and start checking the boxes, you know you’ve got a chance.
Q. What would you say now that you’ve gone through half of training camp is Greg Mattison’s impact on the team — the idea of being a coordinator, what would you say his impact has been?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: He does meet with the outside backers on a regular basis. So he does have a group.
I think his experience is critical for us. It’s making sure that fundamentally we’re sound; that we fit the runs correctly; that the back end is fitting in with the front end; that we’re pursuing to the ball, and that our fundamentals are really, really strong, and that’s something he’s preached for a long, long time and he’s done a really good job of that since he’s been here.
Q. And on the offense, how much are you guys doing the snaps from under center, and what kind of impact do you think that will have and how often will you use that?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: We’ve messed around with it a little bit. We’ll see. Still kind of evaluation phase. You do some things here and there. We’ll mostly be in the gun this year.
Q. What do you think it adds?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: I mean, there’s a couple things sometimes you can do on short yardage, if you need it or in certain situations. But it’s not something that we’ve done in the past year, and I don’t know how much we’re going to do it moving forward but it’s something you always look at every year.
Q. You mentioned you were hoping to have a QB decision on Monday. Will you have a depth chart?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: We’ll talk about. It there are still some battles that will go into the third week so probably won’t have a whole team depth chart but after this week we’ll probably have a good idea where guys are. Hopefully we’ll have captains by then and that will be throughout the weekend. Should have a good update on Monday.
Q. Your running backs, Marcus Crowley lost his black stripe the other day. What have you seen from him in his first game?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: He’s tough. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s tough. He’s still learning the offense. He’ll still make some freshman mistakes here and there, but I like his toughness. He’ll stick his face on people. He practices really, really hard. Just needs more experience. Just needs to stay focused and make sure that he knows what he’s doing when he’s out there, because when he does, he runs hard and he’s physical.
Q. Any update on Austin Mack?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Nothing new, no.
Q. I have some questions, just running through the receivers a little bit. You said when you get Austin back that, will help with Z. Is he a Z now pretty much?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Well, that’s where he started. He has the ability as you know to play both, but he start there had in preseason. He played some of that in the spring and that’s where he’ll start, but he can very easily go to X. He’s played X for three years.
Q. Is there the motivation that if you put Austin at Z, then you can have Ben and Austin as the two seniors on the field at the same time?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think it’s good. I think both those guys deserve to be on the field at the same time.
It’s all about how do these young guys step up. We want to have six, maybe seven receivers that play, so we want to roll guys. And whenever it fits and however that all fits in terms of those six or seven guys, we’ll kind of move those around. But Ellijah Gardiner has been practicing really, really well, and Jameson Williams has flashed at times, and that gives you four Z’s right there with a lot of depth, and I think you’ll see all those guys play.
Q. So Garrett is at X?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Garrett is at X right now.
Q. Why is that the right fit for him?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Yeah, well, I think when you look at the X you have Ben, you have Jaylen Harris, and then you have Garrett, and I think with the ability to maybe move Austin over there if you needed to. So now that gives you four guys over there.
In our offense, any time you get a one-on-one match up in the X receiver, we feel they should win on the one-on-one match-up, and those body types are usually the bigger body types, the longer body types, and I think all those guys fit that.
Q. We know Ben and he’s going to play. Are Garrett and Jaylen fighting then to be the second guy?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: They are. It’s been a good battle. I think Jaylen has gotten better and Garrett has really flashed at times. They are going at it every day. I think they will both play but they are both battling for that backup spot.
Q. We know the way you guys have run six receivers out there and rotated all three spots, with the experience that K.J. has, K.J. and Paris basically split H last year. Would it be possible, could K.J. play 75 percent of the snaps at H this year because he’s such a veteran, or would you prefer to really just roll guys, whether it’s C.J. or Jaelen (ph) behind him, they role equally?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: I would prefer it to be 50/50. That’s my preference. But I think K.J. is strong and he’s been here a while and played a lot of football, and I think he can handle it and if he gives us that much of an advantage over our next H with C.J. or with Jaelen Gill, then he’ll play more.
I think K.J. is pretty complete in terms of his skill-set. He can do just about everything and I think in the end it’s just going to come down to how durable will he be late in the season and can his stamina sustain throughout a game.
Q. Are Jaelen (ph) and C.J. they battling behind K.J.?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: They are. They are both practicing really, really well I think. C.J., really good in short areas and winning one-on-on battles, and Jaelen Gill is growing. Still makes some mistakes here and there but flashes through. He’s got a bright future. Just needs to keep working with Coach Hart and improving every day. But he’s another talented young receiver we have.
Q. It seems like you and the other coaches have been preaching toughness a lot in the first couple weeks of camp; is it more of an emphasis?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: I think it’s — it’s behind the screen but it’s tough love. I think when you preach love as much as we’ve preached as a coaching staff, I think the toughness is the other part of that. This is a tough, tough game.
Again, not comparing any other team to this team right now, we just know it’s a tough game and we have to be tough and now more than ever, we have to be mentally tough, physically tough, emotionally tough and then we’ve got to love.
So those have been the two messages and the last one has been about fighting. Our team has got to fight. We’ve been carrying the message, try not to change it and stay focused on those, and the guys are embracing it. I think we are tougher than we were practice one and we’ve got to keep building on it.
Q. You mentioned “tough love” and “fight to the end.” Seems like the two mantras you guys have been using on social media. What made those the mottos of this year’s team going into the season?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: I think the “fight” part of it is this is a new staff, new team and we need to prove ourselves. You know, when you’re a heavyweight boxer, you have to fight every day. Someone is trying to knock you out and you have to come swinging. You can’t show up without with our hands up. You have to be ready to roll from the first snap and you also have to learn to take a punch. Somewhere along the line, you go into a fight you have to take a punch, and how do we handle that. Are we able to handle adversity and not flinch when something goes bad.
The toughness part, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to in the end because I think we’re athletic, fast, a good-looking team, but in the end it’s going to come down to toughness. There’s going to be tough games on the road. There’s going to be tough spots. Maybe it’s really hot out. Maybe late in the season, it’s a cold game in the rain; how tough are we really going to be? I know we’re athletic and fast, but in the end we’ve got to be tough.
Q. One of these weird football coaches a head coach occasionally gets. This week the university applied to get a trademark for the word “the.” In your role now as a head coach, that’s one of those reminders of the size and scope of the university. Can you show us a little bit about what you’ve learned about the lengths the university goes to to protect those things and how you’ve been instructed to go about that in your role — I don’t know if you have a role in that, but what have you learned about that part of the university?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Well, I think the first time it really hit me is when I went on the road and went throughout the country from the west coast to the east coast to the south to the north and wherever you went, you had your Ohio State Bucko (ph) on and people, whether in the airports or hotels or whatever, it’s “The OH” or “Go Bucks,” you hear it constantly.
Family members who wear it all over the country they say, “I can’t believe how many Ohio State people are out there.” It just goes to show you the range of what the Ohio State Buckeye nation really has. It’s amazing to me, that.
And also, the loyalty and what it means in this area and the tradition. So you know, it’s obviously an honor to be a part of it. Yeah, I think sometimes when you sit back and look at, you know what an unbelievable program this has been over the years and what it means to the state of Ohio and then all of Buckeye Nation throughout the country, it really is amazing and you have to appreciate that.
Q. How are the quarterbacks splitting up the reps at the start of camp, and has it changed this past week?
HEAD COACH RYAN DAY: Some drills we roll them, every two, three reps, team drills. Justin has a of reps with the 1s and try to roll them the best we can, in and out. If somebody makes a mistake; if somebody causes a fumble or turns the ball over or anything like that, they have to do a lap. If somebody has a penalty, they have to do a lap, so any time that happens, a new guy goes in but that’s at every position.
So we try to roll the best we can, but for the most part, when the 1s have been out there, Justin has been with the 1s.
COACH GREG MATTISON: You think the first time he does that, you get out of it and say, you’re not in the right position there and the next day he does the same thing again and makes a great play. He’s done a very, very good job. I think that’s one thing on the defense that we’ve seen is our young kids have really, really worked hard, and that’s I think a product of the guys in front of him.
One thing that really stands out to me here being new here is our veterans and our young men that have been in this program, do an unbelievable job of teaching. When they see something that isn’t right, I mean, it’s not done wrong the way they are saying it. It’s corrected and they help the young man and they move on. That’s why I think the young guys improve a lot faster than they would.
Q. HBO is going to do a college series. Would that be something that always you would be interested in? Would you like having HBO around filming and doing all that kind of stuff?
COACH GREG MATTISON: That’s not my decision in any way, you know, but I am going to tell you this. I’ve had that before, that kind of thing and I love just coaching, and I think what happens is you sometimes get distracted and it’s not fair to the kids. In my opinion, that’s all this is about is how you as a coach can make your players better, and that’s what we strive to do.
Q. Cade Stover just lost his back stripe yesterday. I see you smiling. What are you seeing from him so far in camp?
COACH GREG MATTISON: He’s another very, very talented young man. A big, strong young man that can run and he’s got a lot of ability and a great thing for him is he gets to watch Pete Warner every day, and you’re the guy behind him and you see the way Pete plays and the dedication he has to doing things correctly, it’s been really good for him and he’s very talented.
Q. Are you seeing those guys like Cade and Craig, how much are they pushing to maybe get on the field right away as freshmen?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Well, we’re a ways away from making that decision, and they are working hard every day. But the great thing about here is it may not be just on defense.
Special teams are as important as any phase that we have, and so you have that opportunity, if you are a defensive player, you’ve got a chance to get on the field as a defensive player and you have the chance to get on the field as a special teams player. Both of them are talented enough and athletic enough to do that.
Q. You mentioned Pete Werner. What are the things he’s doing to solidify himself as the top guy at his position?
COACH GREG MATTISON: I really believe he is a top guy at his position. I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of pretty good football players and I am really impressed with him. I mean, he plays extremely hard. He’s very physical. He’s got great size and strength and he can run and he’s got unbelievable character. There’s not many other things that you need to be a good football player and that’s what he’s — that’s what he’s showing.
Q. I have a few questions about the bullet position. How much are we — is that going to be on the field? Is that now the base package?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Well, the bullet position is a position that when teams want to try to spread you out and try to use a very, very athletic tight end possibility to get you a mismatch on what most people would be a big, strong Sam linebacker.
The thing that we have, as I mentioned, is we have a Sam linebacker that is very, very athletic and very, very fast. So we have the bullet position ends up being a way for us to have great depth at the Sam position. You could have him — they could be interchangeable but the bullet position has been very good for us.
It gives us a lot more flexibility to be able to play a lot of different positions, and you know, the young men that have done a good job of that is Brendon White has done a really good job of that, and Jahsen Wint, both of them have had very good camps so far.
Q. That leads into my next question. It seems to be mostly safeties moving into this hybrid position. Do you see in the future a way to get other linebackers?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Well, you’d like to have that be the guy that is fast enough to play in the secondary and physical enough to play close to the line of scrimmage and be a really, really fluid, fast player because he will possibly be doing a lot of blitzing. So that’s the stereotype.
Q. There have been some people that have watched Tuf Borland struggle last year. I know he was injured a little bit and they wondered, well, can he hold onto his job coming into it. What do you like about his game and what makes him an option to stay there in the middle for you guys?
COACH GREG MATTISON: I like everything about Tuf Borland’s game. Tuf Borland is another one that comes out to practice every day, extremely intelligent. Takes great pride in getting the front lined up. A linebacker can be an unbelievable player, and before I finish on that, our backers have all bought into the one thing I think is really, really important and that’s communicating.
You know, everybody looks at a linebacker and he’s got to be able to blitz and tackle and run. No. 1 thing he’s got to be able to do is get maybe the best defensive line in the Big Ten lined up and ready to go because they have a — say a tempo running to the football and then having to see what the signal is, so people have to take pride in doing that.
Tuf and the other linebackers have done a great job of that, and I like his physicality. I like his intelligence. I like everything about his game.
Q. Is that true, like Malik and Pete and Tuf, they got a lot of criticism a year ago, but obviously you’re seeing something in them that they deserve to be out there and should still be out there this year?
COACH GREG MATTISON: They earned it. Without mentioning names, another guy that’s really, really had a good camp so far is Baron Browning. I could go on and on. Teradja has had a good camp. I hate to mention people, Dallas. I mean that, group of backers, they have all done a very, very good job, and I don’t mean to miss anybody if I am.
You know, Al has done a super job with them. They understand their importance in this defense with the aggressiveness, with the taking charge, with the tempo that we’re seeing at times, you know and we’re going to see a lot during this year. So they have done a very good job of that.
Q. What have you seen out of Dallas Gant in this fall?
COACH GREG MATTISON: I’ve seen him maybe making most improvement of any of that group from the spring and I knew Dallas as a high school senior and I tell you, he’s a very talented young man.
But all of a sudden, it looks to me like he is really, really, really stepping forward. It’s like he feels comfortable now. It’s like he’s no longer like with big eyes, what am I supposed to do.
He’s very, very strong. He’s got great length. He can run. So he’s doing a lot of things we need at that position.
Q. Just to clarify, are Malik, Tuf and Pete your starters at of now?
COACH GREG MATTISON: I don’t know that yet. I don’t know that yet. And I don’t mean to be vague on this. You know, we won’t talk about the starters until we get close to that game. In our opinion, anybody that is doing well could be a starter. With the tempo we’re going to see, with the way teams are going to try to attack us, we’d better have a first starter or a second starter and a third starter, and that’s how I look at it.
So when it comes time to say, who is the starter, then the position coach and Jeff and I will all sit down and say, okay, yeah, this is what we’re going to go with. I don’t know what it is right now.
Q. You talked in the spring about how you really take your role as coordinator seriously, you take that literally. Could you kind of elaborate on what’s involved with that? You’re one of three new coaches on that side of the ball. Larry is the only holdover, and what it’s taken to get you guys to mesh defensively as coaches?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Well, the name coordinator, to me, has always meant your job is to coordinate coaches. We happen to have an all-star coaching staff that we talk a lot about each coach has his own position and is responsible for his position. I mean, when you go through the staff that we have on defense, these guys have all coached a long time and they are very, very successful.
So it’s Jeff and my job to coordinate that and to make sure we’re all working together in one direction, and that would always come under our head coach and go from there.
So the big thing is making sure we know what type of defense we want to run; know how much we should run, not too much, not too little, know which way we want to go with it, what kind of it’s going to be and coordinate everybody to teach that. That’s what a coordinator does.
Then on game day, it comes down to taking that game that you all have worked together to put together and making the calls as the game goes on.
Q. So many of you are thrown together new. How do you think you’re doing with that?
COACH GREG MATTISON: The question — that’s a great question, you know, with this being a new staff, I mean, Larry being the only guy, it’s all like we knew each other. I mean, obviously Al and I were together, but I mean, Jeff has done a tremendous job. Larry is just such a great coach and a great person. You can go right down through them, Matt Barnes, the whole group. It’s been a tremendous — growing together to get this done.
Q. Your base defense seems like — is it a Sam or a bullet, or is that solely dependent on the opponent?
COACH GREG MATTISON: It could be either. That’s the beautiful thing that we have. As we mentioned before, if you played — if you set out, you came out and you said, okay, we’re going to play our base defense, you would say it probably is a Sam, okay, but with the type of offenses that people give you now, you feel very, very comfortable now having that big fast athlete also.
Like I mentioned before, we have a real advantage in that Pete is that kind of guy, also, as a Sam. So that’s really where you’re at.
Q. And then Craig Young, saw him today, looks like he’s grown quite a bit and gotten stronger. What can he become, even beyond this year and with his potential and his athletic ability?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Yeah, he’s a very, very, very good athlete, very good athlete. He’s one of those guys when you see him, you kind of go, okay, fine and then all of a sudden you see him run and you go, wow, this guy.
He really, you know, everything is going to be ahead of him. I think he came from a high school where he played probably every position, you know and so now, when he is in one area, for example, and he’s locked in and he’s coached on everything he does, the thing I’ve noticed about him because he’s been in my room at times; the thing I’ve noticed about him is he really is interested in doing the right thing.
You know, sometimes in coaching, you find guys that as freshmen can’t concentrate through all the meetings that you have. He’s one that tries to get better every day.
Q. In talking about Baron Browning, how much is he working in the middle, outside linebacker? Where will he fit in?
COACH GREG MATTISON: He’s in the middle. The one thing in our defense and with our backers, buy what people give you, they could all be the same guy by adjusting out and doing that kind of thing. If you were going against an i-back running team like it used to be 20 years ago, you would say he would definitely be an inside guy. That’s where he’s playing.
Q. So could there be any circumstances or any alignments where a Tuf and Teradja and Baron, you could have two of those guys on the field at the same time, or are they all basically playing Mike and you’ve got pick which one is on the field?
COACH GREG MATTISON: There are all playing Mike and Will. There are two inside linebackers. It’s a Mike linebacker and a Will linebacker, and they could be very interchangeable. And that’s what Al has done a very good job of that we talked about doing is that you don’t want to pigeonhole a guy when they are talented. You want to be able to say, okay, if the next best guy is this guy, then he’s got to be able to play Will and Mike, for example and that’s what he’s working with on them right now.
Q. When you’re in a third down situation, a passing down, where you’ll probably only have two linebackers on the field, who are your two best cover linebackers in nickel look like that? Last year, it was Malik and Baron would be out there.
COACH GREG MATTISON: They both have been the two that have worked a lot, but all of them have improved enough to be in there. You know, again, we have time yet.
Pete Werner has also worked in on that, and so like I said, you’ve got a bunch of linebackers that they have done a really good job with them and now just a matter as it keeps working out who is going to be that, those best two.
Q. How did you and Ryan come to the decision that you would in practice have a group like that with the outside linebackers that you have, as opposed to every practice just you roaming and going from group to group? How did that work out?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Well, I think the first day I was here, or first practice in the spring, I almost went crazy. I mean, it had been the first year; I had never coached the position and I was going, no, I can’t do this.
Then the backer position has three positions and as a coordinator, you always want to be in the middle, to be able to see this — to be with the secondary with a lot of things and the front with a lot of things, and so it was a natural position to work with the Sams, and kept me from doing something harmful to myself (Laughter).
Q. Does it keep you connected a little more?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Yes. It keeps you connected; keeps you sane. I mean, let’s be honest — think about this now. You have coaches that are tremendous coaches, right. Now I’m going to auction over there and stand over there like this (crossing arms) and Larry and I have coached for a long time and I’m going to stand there and go (with arms crossed) okay, that’s good, yeah and go over to the next place and do the same thing — I can’t do that. I can’t do that.
It’s worked out great. It’s been a really, really good deal that way.
Q. When you look at the talent on this team, I think everybody can agree it’s one of the most talented teams in the country, last year was statistically the worst defense in the history of the program. When you come in and look, and then the reason for that obviously isn’t lack of talent, so when you look at the film coming in with fresh eyes, did you feel overwhelmed? Did it seem like small stuff was out of order? What needed to be fixed? Did that seem like an overwhelming task if you have the pieces in place to fix the issue?
COACH GREG MATTISON: First thing, I would never judge what they did last year on defense. The coordinator was a great coordinator. They had a great staff. You know, stats are stats. I’m not a big stat guy. The one thing we believe and in I have always 100 percent believed in and that is to run to the football. I’ll tell you people this, if you’re watching and if you see our defense not run to the football, then you ask me. You come up and talk to me about it.
Because the one thing our guys have bought into: We will run to the football. In practice we have 320-pound guys, and we have Chase Young who is one of the top players in the country right now running to the football on every play.
We have linebackers that will blitz and get to the quarterback, turning and putting their foot on the ground and running and to me, that is what helps your defense overcome any deficiencies.
Let’s face it, stats are stats. You know, the only stat that really, really bought — that I ever really look, really, really close at, are points, you know, giving up points. That’s the bottom line. I didn’t even look at what it was last year. Doesn’t matter to me.
The thing that I know what we are going to do is we are going to be an aggressive defense that runs to the football and everybody on our defense believes in that, and that’s why I’m so proud of these kids right now.
Q. Look at the way that Ohio State, or what Ryan Day did when he first took the job, he changed the defensive staff, all but one person. I mean, points, statistics, whether they mean something or not, it wasn’t a good defense from an Ohio State standard a year ago. I’m just wondering, to come in and be in charge of coordinating it and having to fix it — I know running to the football, but was it an overwhelming — was it a tough task for you to come in here and say, this needs to be different, or is this okay because it’s talented enough to fix?
COACH GREG MATTISON: I wasn’t — coming in here, I didn’t look at it that way. You know, I looked at Ohio State always as being a great program.
Somebody said something to me one time, and I said, “Guys, they are 13-1.” 13-1. There’s a lot of places in the country that would like to raise their hand and say, “We are 13-1.”
So anything our defensive staff can do to make this defense as good as can be, I believe will only help trying to get to be the very best.
As far as, again, scheme and all that kind of thing, all I can tell you is that we will work very, very hard and have worked very, very hard if this is a correction, then it’s a correction, I’m not going to go there.
I’m going to tell you that our defense and anywhere I’ve ever coached defense is it’s always keep the ball inside in front, be aggressive, play up to your talent. We are very, very talented. Sometimes when you have a very, very talented team, you, as a coach, say: Go.
You don’t try to invent things. You don’t try to make it too complicated. What you try to do is say, let you guys go play. I happen to think this defense has that.
The other thing, don’t forget now, a lot of defensive players are back now, aren’t they. There’s a lot of guys back, correct? That must mean they were very young last year. There’s always — you don’t ever know when it is a junior or a sophomore that’s just played; is he mature or not, you know what I mean.
Sometimes that’s what happens. You can be talented, but if you don’t have enough maturity or experience, that kind of thing, sometimes thing don’t go right — but I’m not going to worry about that. I am really, really excited right now about what our kids are doing on defense and it’s our job to get them to play up to the standard that you just talked about and that’s to be the best there is and that’s Ohio State Football.
Q. Coach Day said they will set aside time to practice for Michigan whether it’s daily, weekly or whatever, did that catch you by surprise?
COACH GREG MATTISON: No. No.
Q. Was that done by your previous employer?
COACH GREG MATTISON: I don’t know. (Laughter).
Q. Have you taken note of the changes being made on offense?
COACH GREG MATTISON: All I know is we have a game coming up pretty quick and we’re getting ready to go.
Q. Brendon White, is there a chance that he can be on the field as one of the two safeties in y’all’s defense? How is that going to work? Like you say, if you go with the Sam look, where does he fit then into that Sam look?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Good thing about Brendon White is you have a lot of experience, one. No. 2, he is very, very intelligent and he’s very athletic. So that allows him to be in — and remember now, in our scheme there’s a lot of different packages. There’s a nickel package, regular package, bullet package, penny package, there’s all kinds of things.
Brendon has the athleticism and the experience at two different positions to be able to fit in and that’s what it’s allowed us to do. He can fit in as a safety in one package and fit in as a bullet in another package, so there’s a lot of different places.
Q. Who would be your two starting safeties if you had to play a game tomorrow? We were thinking Jordan Fuller might be one. Is that wrong?
COACH GREG MATTISON: No, it’s not wrong. Again, I don’t want to talk about who the starters are yet because we’re in camp and I don’t ever like to say this guy is the starter until camp is over and we get ready for a game.
Q. Chase Young was talking to us and he was surprised by the idea that he might get double-teamed or triple-teamed. What does he bring to the package?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Chase Young is an outstanding person, athlete and football player, okay.
And as far as triple-teaming him, good luck. Good luck, because you’ve got Cooper, you’ve got some other guys right there; that that means they are singled, and that’s the beautiful thing in our package and what I’m excited about is you don’t just have one.
You’ve got guys that when — and they all have the same pride. You know, if you said to them, if they were sitting here right now and you said to them, hey, they are all worried about tripling chase, they would all look at you and say, really, good, then I’m one-on-one. Let’s see what happens.
Q. You’ve obviously now had a few months to work with Jeff in the spring. How have you worked in the spring and what’s stood out the most?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Tremendous. Tremendous. The question is having the opportunity to work with Jeff Hafley. Sometimes when there’s co-coordinators, it can be — work together, that kind of thing. It’s been tremendous.
Jeff and I work really, really well together and the big thing is — and there’s no egos. You know, our deal is to try to make this defense the best we can. That’s it. That’s it. That’s our whole goal. His expertise in the back end, he’s as good a secondary coach as I’ve ever seen, and I know the players would say that.
And then for us to be able to work with the front end, it’s worked out perfect. I just — he’s a great one now. He’s done a really good job and we get along tremendous.
Q. What’s his best asset, do you think, in the back end as a secondary coach?
COACH GREG MATTISON: Well, he’s so intelligent. He knows — he’s coached the best, for seven years, prior to coming here, coached NFL defensive backs, the best in the game, and was successful at doing that.
Now all of a sudden he comes here and has a tremendously successful group of back end guys that he can now take them to the next step.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports