Buckeyes getting ready to face Hoosiers


By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com



COLUMBUS – Ohio State tried to make its week off last week as much like the weeks leading up to big wins over Akron, Rutgers and Maryland, coach Ryan Day said on Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

“I thought our prep the last two weeks leading into the bye week was excellent. What we did last week was that we kept the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practices the same as they were the last two weeks,” Day said.

“We have to pick up where we left off a couple weeks ago. The good news is our guys believe now. They’re excited about what these next six weeks can bring and what this week is going to bring.

“I think we’re in a lot better place than we were at the beginning of the season. We’ve got some rest. Now it’s going to be a big run. We’re still a work in progress. We have to bring it every week. All we can do, and you’ve heard the cliché a million times, is take it one game at a time,” he said.

No. 5 Ohio State (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) will play at Indiana (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) on Saturday night in what was regarded as one of the biggest challenges on its schedule before the season started.

A year ago, Ohio State built a 35-7 lead early in the third quarter against the Hoosiers but had to hang on for a 42-35 win when IU quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw for 491 yards and five touchdowns.

But Penix and Indiana have struggled after he underwent a second ACL surgery late last season and suffered a separated shoulder two weeks ago.

“I think this team (Indiana) is much better than their record,” Day said.

Some other thoughts from Day:

INJURY REPORT: He expects defensive tackle Haskell Garrett and cornerback Cam Brown to be able to play.

Garrett suffered a leg injury against Maryland and Brown has battled numerous injuries.

LESS TIME WITH DEFENSE: Day said he has spent less time with OSU’s defensive coaches recently than he did in the days after a loss to Oregon in Week Two of the season.

“I check in periodically after games and at certain times during the week to find out where we’re at and have conversations about the game plan and things that I see. But the last week I’ve kind of stepped away a little bit and allowed them to operate,” Day said. – EWERS NOT READY: Not many major college football coaches are asked about their fourth-string quarterback, but Day was when he was asked if freshman Quinn Ewers was ready to play.

“He’s not quite ready yet. It’s going to be a little while. He’s doing a good job but he has to learn how to be a college football player. He’s starting to get used to the day to day grind and what it’s like,” Day said. “We’ll continue to work with him but it’s probably something that’s going to happen more when we get into bowl practice and the winter and spring practice next year.”

Linebackers coach Al Washington and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa followed Day to the microphone. Some thoughts from them:

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES: Washington admitted OSU’s linebackers were one of the biggest question marks on the team early in the season.

“We’ve still got a way to go to get to our standard but I’m very proud of the progress amid all of the challenges,” he said.

One of those challenges was the loss of veteran linebackers K’Vaughan Pope and Dallas Gant, who entered the transfer portal after seeing their playing time diminish. Pope walked off the field during the Buckeyes’ game against Akron and was dismissed from the team the next day.

“I have nothing but love for those kids. I support them as they go forth and do what they feel they

need to do. We held it together by being focused on what is the objective. We have to keep moving forward. That’s kind of our mentality,” Washington said.

“I completely understand the frustration. Both those young men are good people and very good players. It’s tough to manage but we just keep moving forward,” he said.

GAOTEOTE’S SLOW START: USC transfer Palaie Gaoteote, a former 5-star recruit at linebacker,

has appeared in only two games and has been credited with two tackles the first half of the season. “His story is he came in the middle of the summer not really knowing what his future would be. As a result you can’t dedicate as many reps (repetitions) as you would like to because those reps might be better served somewhere else. He has a little hiccup. We expect him to continue to increase his role as the second half goes,” Washington said.

CARRICO ‘PROGRESSING’: Freshman Reid Carrico is one of only six scholarship linebackers on OSU’s roster. He has played in one game.

Asked if there might be more playing time for him in the second half of the season, Washington said, “Reid is progressing. It’s really hard to say. I guess if circumstances warranted it, he would have to be thrust into it. But right now we’re very pleased with his progress and how he is going about his business every day. I think he’s turning in the right direction.”

TALKING CENTERS: Studrawa said he was comfortable with either Harry Miller or Luke Wypler as the Buckeyes’ starting center.

Miller, a starting guard last season, won the vacant starting center job around 10 days before the season opener at Minnesota but a medical issue sidelined him for the first four games of the season. Wypler moved into the lineup and has played well.

Miller is trying to get healthy and work his way back into the offensive line rotation, though Wypler appears to have secured the starting center role.

“It was a competition right up until about 10 days before the Minnesota game when we made the decision it was going to be Harry. But I was comfortable with both of them. I had confidence in both of them. Harry had more experience and maybe a tad bit more confidence,” Studrawa said.

It has been a long road back for Miller. “We’ve got to get him practicing consistently is the first thing. We have to get him back to totally healthy and get him to have a consistent week of practice where he goes full go. If we can get him practicing and keep him healthy he’s going to be right back in the rotation,” Studrawa said.

By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com