How soon after a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic did Ohio State coach Ryan Day start thinking about the Buckeyes’ next opponent?
“Right after we sang with the student section,” he said.
Day may be only four games into his career as a head coach — one game into his first full season as the full-time leader of the Buckeyes — but he has already shown some tendencies of a veteran.
That includes respecting the next opponent, especially one that went 11-2 last season, is coached by a former Buckeye (Luke Fickell) and has a roster teeming with Ohio natives no doubt waiting for a chance to show they were worthy of an Ohio State offer in high school.
“We celebrate all the warriors, we are going to enjoy this,” Day said of his team’s week one win. “It’s hard to be 1-0. Doesn’t matter how you shake it. When you’re in college football, there’s a lot of good coaches, a lot of good programs, and we’re proud to be 1-0, but we know what we’ve got ahead of us.”
That includes a Cincinnati squad that will be coming to the Horseshoe looking to end an 11-game losing streak against Ohio State that stretches back to 1900.
“We are going to sleep on this tonight, but we know in the back of our minds that we have a really good team coming in here, a hungry and well-coached team,” Day said. “And we have to play real good to beat them.”
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Cincinnati opened the season with a 24-14 win over visiting UCLA on Thursday night.
Desmond Ridder threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns with an interception while Michael Warren ground out 92 yards on 26 carries.
The UC defense, coordinated by Wayne grad and former Ohio State player Marcus Freeman, held the Bruins to 216 total yards. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed just 8 of 26 passes, and 75 of his 156 passing yards came on one play in the second quarter.
The Bearcats forced three turnovers and allowed only two drives of more than 50 yards.
Close To The Vest?
The manner in which Ohio State beat Florida Atlantic on Saturday had an added benefit for the Buckeyes.
First-year co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley confirmed OSU’s early 28-0 lead let the new defensive coaches keep some of their new tricks under wraps.
“After the first half, we kind of said, ‘Hey, these guys are doing a good job, let’s just let ‘em go play.’ We didn’t we didn’t feel like we needed to dive in anything else,” Hafley said.
That meant the Buckeyes ended up playing three linebackers most of the afternoon, a somewhat surprising development after much talk in the offseason revolved around the use of a new hybrid safety/linebacker called the Bullet. That spot is expected to replace one of the linebacker frequently, making a 4-2-5 look the primary defense for the Buckeyes even as they continue to describe their “base” defense as a 4-3.
“Well, we felt like today it was the best way to start the game,” Hafley said of the three-linebacker set. “And we got up pretty early, then we kind of just wanted to stay really simple. And we felt like with it we could win the game, and we just didn’t want to get into too many other things today.”
Hafley said he watched the Bearcats’ 24-14 win over UCLA on Thursday night and came away impressed.
“I think they’re really good team,” he said. “I think they’re well-coached, and I think it’ll be really good challenge.”
Former Vikings to Square Off
Ohio State center Josh Myers is among the Buckeyes who will see familiar faces on the other sideline when the Bearcats come to town.
“One of them was my tackle in high school, Cody Lamb,” Myers said of his fellow Miamisburg alumnus. “So I know him and I know a couple of guys from La Salle who I played against in high school that are on the team, but Cody’s probably the only one I know really well.”
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Will there be any trash talk between them this week?
“I probably just won’t talk to him this week, to be honest, but I keep in touch with him,” Myers said.
Old Look Equals New Wrinkle
While the defense tried to keep things basic, the Ohio State offense showed the ability to operate from the shotgun or under center.
The latter is something the Buckeyes virtually never did in the past seven seasons under Urban Meyer, who was among the pioneers of the modern shotgun spread offense that has become nearly ubiquitous over the past 10-15 years.
“When you look at college football today, I think it’s important to have a balance,” said Day, whose prevoius coaching experience includes two seasons in the NFL. “I think it’s important to be able to line up under center, run the football, play-action pass and do some things, and also run the spread and run with tempo.”