COLUMBUS — Maybe it wasn’t just fans fretting that Ohio State’s 52-17 win over Nebraska last Saturday wasn’t impressive enough who Ryan Day’s postgame press conference positivity was aimed at.
He saw some of that same attitude from a few of the guys on the team. Expectations at Ohio State, even in the locker room, sometimes are “just ridiculous,” Day said.
“You win 52-17 and some guys are walking around the locker room like, ‘Man, what happened?’ It’s 52-17. That’s pretty good, boys,” Day said on a Zoom conference on Tuesday.
No. 3 Ohio State, 1-0 after that win over Nebraska, goes to No. 18 Penn State for a Saturday night game. The Nittany Lions lost 36-35 in overtime to Indiana in their season opener.
One of the big question marks for OSU in that game is the status of No. 1 receiver Chris Olave, who left the game against Nebraska in the final minute of the third quarter after taking a big hit from a Cornhuskers defender.
He eventually left the sideline and went to the locker room during the fourth quarter.
Day didn’t offer any prediction on Tuesday about Olave’s availability for Saturday night’s game but sounded optimistic.
Asked what would happen if Olave can’t play, he said, “We would just move some things around like we always do. That’s where our depth comes into play. We’ll see as the week goes on how it goes.”
Ohio State’s depth at receiver comes mostly from young players, like sophomore Jameson Williams and freshmen, led by Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming. Another possibility is getting tight ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert more involved in the passing game.
Olave caught 6 passes for 104 yards against Nebraska and Garrett Wilson had 7 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson thinks Olave will be ready to play Saturday. “I’m super confident. I talked to Chris and he seemed all good. So I think Chris is going to be ready to play on Saturday,” he said via Zoom.
And if he can’t? “I have full faith in our receivers room that somebody could step up and fill that void,” Wilson said.
Smith-Njigba caught two passes against Nebraska, including a spectacular fourth-quarter touchdown catch, and Fleming had one catch.
“They competed and they did what they do in practice. I thought they ran some decent routes and most of the time caught the ball well. It’s a good start in terms of a starting point but they’ve got a lot of work to do,” Day said.
Some other thoughts from the Buckeyes coach:
• Running game ‘solid’: Trey Sermon (11 carries, 55 yards) and Master Teague (12 carries, 41 yards) shared the running back position against Nebraska.
“I thought they were solid. I thought as the game went on they played better. It was the same thing just with the run game in general. Early on it was just OK. So we’ll be looking to take the next step in Game 2,” Day said.
• Fields’ workload: Fields’ 15 carries led OSU in its opener but Day said that was not too many.
“I thought he did a great job. Most of those runs were scrambles. That’s about what we do,” Day said. “I thought he extended some plays really, really well. That’s part of his game. There are going to be sacks but there are also going to be plays where he extends them for huge plays.
“That’s the game for Justin. It was different for Dwayne (Haskins), it was different for other quarterbacks. With him, for every sack you’re going to get two or three extended plays.”
• Back-up quarterback: Freshman Jack Miller played quarterback on Ohio State’s final offensive series Saturday and scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run, but that doesn’t mean he has taken over that position permanently ahead of Gunnar Hoak and C.J. Stroud.
“It’s an ongoing deal. At some point one of them will jump in front of the other and we’ll go from there. Right now it’s just a lack of reps (repetitions in practice). They’re still battling, they’re still learning, they’re still trying to figure it out,” Day said.
“They’re getting better. They’re showing some flashes here and there. But we’ll just keep that going and take it week to week.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.