Here are five takeaways:
1. Day is not sure what to expect from the Notre Dame defense.
New Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman favored a three-down defense when he was a coordinator, but Day expects to see multiple fronts from the Fighting Irish on Saturday night.
New defensive coordinator Al Golden, who most recently was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals staff, comes from the Penn State coaching tree and as such is traditionally a disciple of the four-man defensive front philosophy.
“Certainly Marcus has his fingerprints all over the defense, but now that you have Al Golden there, it’s a little bit of a different staff, so I think probably just a little bit of the unknown going into the game,” Day said.
“They play multiple fronts, and they’re good. They’re strong, they’re powerful. They’re athletic. linebackers play hard. They do a good job against the run.”
2. Day feels good about what his offensive line has done under new coach Justin Frye.
“I think that we’ve had a really good camp,” Day said. “I think Justin’s done a great job of them, but now they’ve gotta go put it on the field. And that’s all that really matters, you know, and I think that’s just across the board. You go through so much training for just these few opportunities to play.”
3. The progress of the defense under new coordinator Jim Knowles is also encouraging.
“I think when you look at the front, I think that they are certainly creating a lot of disruption up front and getting after the quarterback and creating problems up front in the run game,” Day said. “Linebackers are much more improved. They’re seeing things and diagnosing things fast, but the secondary as well is playing at a pretty high level. So I think across the board, it’s just an overall improvement. I think that the guys are playing with more confidence. I think it’s probably the combination of guys on that side of the ball with more experience and then embracing the new scheme.”
4. Day believes the Buckeyes had an excellent preseason overall after falling short of their major goals last season.
“I think the attitudes have been excellent. I think the toughness has been excellent. I think their attention to detail, the edge that they’ve had, this team wants to be good. And they have an edge to ‘em,” said Day, whose team suffered bitter defeats at the hands of Oregon and Michigan last season. “They feel like they have something to prove, but that doesn’t mean anything until you go play the game on Saturday night. So we’ll keep working on that and try to figure out a way to get to 1-0.”
5. The 2002 national championship team will be recognized Saturday night
“Not only is that national championship team a special team because they won it, but they’ve had such an impact on Columbus, on Ohio State,” said Day, who added he has been able to use the coach of that team, Jim Tressel, as a great resource since taking over as head coach of the Buckeyes in 2019.
“It’s also all the players, I’m glad they’re getting recognized because it is more than just that and I think it goes to show you if you become a national championship team at Ohio State it kind of lives for a long, long time and it means so much.”
Notre Dame at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410