Ohio State ‘checked some boxes’ in nonconference schedule, but more to do

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State football begins Big Ten play Saturday night, and Ryan Day expects the quintessential conference look from Wisconsin.

“It’s kind of the epitome of the Big Ten,” he said of the Badgers’ bruising style of offense and defense. “You know you’re gonna get this when you get into conference play, and we knew that. That’s how we talked about this going into the game. We know their style of play, and that’s not unique to Wisconsin. So we have to be able to play these styles of games.”

Explore5 things to know about Wisconsin game, series

Here are five takeaways from the Buckeyes’ press conference Tuesday:

1. TreVeyon Henderson should be available.

The star sophomore running back had only four carries during Ohio State’s 77-21 win over Toledo on Saturday night before leaving with an unidentified injury.

Day expressed a belief after the game he would be back soon, and he reiterated that three days after.

“It’s a short-term thing,” Day said Tuesday. “Expecting him for Saturday.”

2. Day likes what he saw from third-stringer Dallan Hayden.

The true freshman from Tennessee ran 17 times for 108 yards as Ohio State held out Henderson and rested Miyan Williams, their other top back, later in the game against the Rockets.

“The No. 1 thing is he took care of the ball, and he has to continue to do that moving forward,” Day said. “Because the more you do that, the more trust you build with your teammates. And that’s the No. 1 thing everybody’s trying to do is show their teammates that they can be counted on. And that’s the first thing. I thought he had some really good lanes to run. I thought the offensive line did a good job but but he also hit some holes and created some explosive plays for us.”

3. The Ohio State head coach has great respect for Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonard.

After starring at safety for the Badgers and spending 10 season in the NFL, Leonard has been an assistant at his alma mater since 2016.

He became the defensive coordinator a year later, the same year Day arrived at Ohio State.

“His defenses are always some of the best in the country, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t have anything to do with the coaches,” Day said. “It comes down to the players. What do the players know? What can the players do? And, you know, as much as sometimes it seems like matching wits between coordinators, sure that comes into play, but at the end of the day, it’s what do your players know? What can they execute on the field?”

4. Day hopes the three nonconference wins helped Ohio State learn something about itself.

“There’s been some things, some boxes that you can at least check to say, ‘OK, now going into conference play we at least have an idea what we’re dealing with here.’ Some by necessity, some because it just worked out that way.

“Not that we have all the answers right now, but there’s been some boxes checked for sure, but still a lot more to check.”

ExploreConference play coming, ready or not

5. He’s not mad about another night game.

Ohio State has played under the lights twice already this season, and the Wisconsin game will be another prime-time start.

That has pros and cons as far as recruiting (good) and work-life balance (bad) for the coaching staff, but Day likes the idea of a well-lubricated crowd for one of the tougher opponents on the schedule.

“Those are long days, “Day said. “They are. I do like when a noon game is done at about 430 and you can go home and enjoy the rest of the day, but I also love seeing Buckeye Nation 105,000 people strong. St. John Arena was rocking (last week). The stadium was rocking. And that was great. And the electricity of the Horseshoe for a night game, there’s nothing like it. And so that’s the give and take, I guess.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Wisconsin at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

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