COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State football coach Ryan Day is set to speak at 12:00 to preview the Buckeyes’ 2022 season opener against Notre Dame.
You can watch his press conference in the video player above.
The Buckeyes enter the new season ranked as the No. 2 team in the country by the Associated Press. It will be a top-five matchup under the lights at Ohio Stadium with the Fighting Irish ranked No. 5 in the nation.
“The nation will be watching and you get to be front and center,” Day said on what he’s told the Buckeyes leading up to the game.
This will be the first time in Ohio State history that the Buckeyes are ranked in the top five and play a top five opponent in the season opener. The Buckeyes are 17.5-point favorites over the Irish.
“I think coming off of last year there’s no big heads. This team is hungry,” Day said. We’ve got a lot to prove.”
The 2002 Ohio State national championship team will be recognized during Saturday’s game.
Ohio State returns some of its best offensive players from last year, including Heisman candidate quarterback C.J. Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The receiver room lost Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave who were both drafted in the first round but reload with Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming.
OSU’s biggest question on offense will be the line where they must replace Thayer Munford and XX. But they do return several players: Paris Johnson Jr. who will take over left tackle after playing guard last year, center Luke Wypler, right tackle Dawand Jones and guard Matthew Jones.
The newest member of the offensive line is Donovan Jackson who will play one of the guard positions. Depth may be a concern for OSU but Day is confident the Buckeyes have at least seven players who can play any position up front.
Cade Stover and Mitch Rossi are the frontrunners at tight end, according to offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.
New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has set expectations high. During fall camp, the former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator said the Buckeyes should have a top-five defense in the country. Knowles said the defense is ‘100%’ ready for the game.
“We’ve put them through the crucible. We put them against the nation’s best offense everyday,” Knowles said. “I’m confident.”
The expectation seems lofty considering OSU ranked 59th in total defense and 38th in points allowed per game a year ago. But two important things have changed: most of the defensive coaching staff and a year of playing experience.
“We know what we have but in really big games, really good players have to step up,” Day said.
The Buckeyes return more than a dozen players who have significant game experience, including nine starters.
Knowles says he tells the players their mistakes on game day are his fault because he didn’t prepare them enough. He added, with a smile, that he makes sure they know the mistakes they make during the week are entirely on them.
Meanwhile, the only remaining member of last year’s defensive coaching staff is d-line coach Larry Johnson who enters his 49th season coaching football and who has produced some of the best talent to ever come through OSU.
Marcus Freeman returns to Columbus
Notre Dame will be led for the first time by former Buckeye Marcus Freeman who served as the Irish’s defensive coordinator last year before Brian Kelly left South Bend for LSU.
“It’s small world and it’s kind of unique and it’s exciting,” Day said about Freeman and linebackers coach James Laurinaitis coming back to Columbus.
Freeman played linebacker at Ohio State from 2004-08 and was also a graduate assistant for his alma mater in 2010. He’s also had coaching stints at Kent State, Purdue and Cincinnati. Freeman was with the Bearcats for four seasons where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.