COACH DAY: Want to say what an unbelievable crowd. For a noon kickoff again, Jerry said it was 105,000. I think they were all in their seats for kickoff. That meant a lot to us.
We came from the skull session and had a ton of people in there cheering us on. And we felt it throughout the game, and I know that for any team coming in here that can be overwhelming.
And feeling Buckeye Nation again was really important for us. And, again, couldn’t be more thankful for the students and for everybody who showed up today. I think it really got us going early in the game. We started fast and I think we were able to sustain it in the second half.
Q. At one point you called last week just kind of a funky game. How different does this one feel compared week one for you?
COACH DAY: I don’t think this one was as funky. I thought that we got out to the 28-0 lead it was at halftime. It wasn’t as fast and furious, and then we had to regroup at halftime and then come and win the third quarter.
We talked about doing a great job coming out at halftime. And, but that was something we were emphasizing really all week because didn’t leave a great taste coming off the field last week. I thought we sustained it and finished it the right way this week.
Q. What did you think of the way that J.K. came out today? And what did you think of his block to spring Justin there on the touchdown?
COACH DAY: I think J.K. was irritated all week. Just the same kind of thing — nothing fit right last week, just didn’t feel right. It was one of those strange opening games but we worked hard this week. Stud and the O line did a great job. I’m not sure if it was one snap, they didn’t blink. They were blitzing from sideways, every which way. The guys were covering it up. They hit us on a couple early on, but then we started to cover them up.
And J.K., when he got to the second level he was rolling today and I thought it was great getting J.K. going and the O line did an unbelievable job. Tribute to Kevin Wilson and Stud and all the guys who worked on that this week.
I thought the skull team gave an excellent look all week. That’s really important and real. When we went off the to the field we were able to execute.
Q. All summer you talked about how you thought the defense was going to be better, despite all the questions about it, coming off last year. Does today’s performance certify your faith and confidence in where you’re going that way?
COACH DAY: It’s another step in the journey. It’s what we see in practice every day. Going up against them in spring and during preseason, I knew they were going to be tough, and they’re getting there.
It’s not a finished product by any means but they’re getting there. And I think what Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley and the whole defensive staff have done to put that all together, getting those guys coming off the ball — Larry Johnson’s guys up front.
I thought we owned the line of scrimmage today, did a great job. They were flying around. That’s what we envisioned when we put this together, we all got together I guess back in January when it all came about. But this is a great start for those guys. I thought they were running around tackling well and creating turnovers against a good Cincinnati team.
Q. Before we got up here did you catch the end of the Michigan game?
COACH DAY: No, I haven’t.
Q. They won in overtime. I didn’t know if you were watching it down there?
COACH DAY: No, no. We were singing and dancing in the locker room.
Q. You’ve been envisioning this game I think a long time given the importance of it and being an instate staff or instate program with Luke and stuff. In terms of everything that went on today, where is this comparison compared to where you might envision it when you were thinking about it this summer?
COACH DAY: I don’t know. I still don’t know. I think today was another step, though, in the journey. It was the right step. Where we want to be. We talked about coming into the game, we wanted to be the best in the country with what we do. It’s not easy to do.
A lot of people can say that but we take a lot of pride in that. If it’s Drue Chrisman, Drue Chrisman has to be the best punter in the country. I thought today he was awesome. Liam McCullough has to be the best long snapper in the country.
And with that comes seriousness. And we want to have the best defense and offense and special teams. With that comes a lot of work, a lot of dedication, a lot of sacrifice and I think we’re on the right journey that way.
But we go into conference play next week and we have to start over again because when you come into the game so much comes into it preparation wise — physically, emotionally mentally — to make sure you execute what you need to execute on Saturday. And so we have to start that journey again.
Every game in college football, to me, every week is a whole new season. And so we have to keep building on this. But I thought it was good to get some depth in the game again in the second half and see those guys play and fight all the way to the end.
Q. You mentioned this week that you thought one of Justin’s best plays last week was him throwing the ball away, the third quarter with a defender in his face. Was there a moment today that maybe it would be off our radar that you saw him make that gave you hope for where he’s going?
COACH DAY: There were actually a few, but the one offhand was the one in the second drive when we couldn’t get the ball back, we were in the red zone. We called a flash and pass. We expected man coverage. We did not get man coverage. They played zone.
There was nowhere for him to go. He put his foot in the ground and scored a touchdown on the run. His ability to do that for us is kind of the X factor because if it’s there, we take it and we’re pretty efficient throwing with the ball which is good. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re getting there.
But then his feet are the X factor. If we can keep us on schedule, we don’t need to scramble for eight yards, but if he can turn a first-and-10 shot into second-and-6 that keeps us on schedule. And the only time we really got ourselves off schedule was the holding call in the first drive. We were rolling. That’s what happened the week before, but from then on I don’t think we had any more holding calls. We got ourselves in rhythm. But overall I thought it was a solid performance but another step in his progression.
Q. Seemed like Justin was comfortable outside of structure and in structure today. For instance he had the one where he was directing traffic and threw it long to Olave and came back a few plays later, hung in the pocket and hit Garrett Wilson for a touchdown. Just both facets of him throwing today what did you think?
COACH DAY: I think that’s what we’ve all been talking about in these press conferences and we’ve been talking to him about that in the preseason is that once it becomes live now you find out what it’s like. And once you get out of the pocket, there’s times you’ve got to throw it away. There was a time where we did have a play-action pass, I think they dropped eight on us, popped that on us and he took a sack for minus four.
All he had to do is throw the ball away, something he can learn from. He did throw some other away. He created too because he can create. He can buy more time.
I think the receivers gotta do a little bit better job of staying with him and getting open, because if we call the second part of the route and he’s able to do that for us — and another learning opportunity for everybody.
Q. I don’t think you ever allowed them to feel good on offense. Was it just base defense, win one-on-one battles, just whipping them at the line of scrimmage?
COACH DAY: I don’t think it’s that simple. But I do think we did win the line of scrimmage. They do a good job, got a good team, and they have a good scheme over there. And it’s not that simple. It was some things that I thought we did schematically that were good. But at the end of the day it comes down to toughness. Comes down to tackling the line of scrimmage.
Q. Did you think Chase was going pick-6 right there?
COACH DAY: Well, yes, I did, actually. I almost blew out my Achilles’ jumping up and down because I thought we had that. Still feel a little loose there. But Chase comes back with a blocked field goal, and any time you have a chance for a blocked field goal there’s a chance it goes back.
It kind of hit his finger, went back and Damon caught it but couldn’t quite return it. That’s what we were trying to get done. And that was a big play in the game, kind of a momentum swing for us early.
Q. First, how concerned were you coming into this game given that UC is a good team. Luke Fickell was going to have these guys motivated? And second, I know you’ll find things that need to be corrected, but can you start to see the potential of this team?
COACH DAY: Yeah, I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves at all. Get on to film and keep working at it. We were very concerned. This team has won a lot of football games. They’re very sound. They create a lot of problems on defense.
They blitz every snap. You really have to do a good job in preparation. And again credit to our staff. We put a lot of time in trying to fix up all these blitzes but we’re concerned.
I do think, though, this team has a chance. But the goal is to be 1-0. And again I say that all the time it sounds cliché you can’t get ahead of yourself we have to enjoy this win and on to Indiana.
Q. You mentioned the two throwaways. Justin was still 20 of 25 passing. How would you assess his accuracy, ability to put the ball where it needs to be?
COACH DAY: It was some really accurate throws out there. I think the touchdown to Garrett Wilson was off the charts. That throw and catch there, that was NFL material there.
Top shelf. It’s what we call the back of the end zone. And the catch for Garrett, Garrett had a mistake early in the game. He could have gone in the tank, didn’t, and came back, made a catch for us.
That’s what we need, guys to make plays in the red zone and receivers and quarterbacks make their money on third down in the red zone. And they did. But there were some other ones, I can’t remember, the back shoulder. I’ll tell you what, the back shoulder fade between he and Bin Victor is something else. It’s something we work hard on. We talk about all the different things that come with this.
It didn’t just happen. Challenged Bin. If Bin can win those one-on-one battles for us, we’ll go. It starts with the extra receiver. He makes that play and we go to score that drive and kickstarted us a little bit too.
Q. I know you’re a former quarterback. Everyone’s talking about Justin. How much are the receivers helping him? You said they need to keep up with him. Can you explain that a little bit, and are you happy with the receiver play so far?
COACH DAY: Yeah, I think so. I think guys are getting open. They’re catching the ball for the most part. It’s not all perfect, but we’re building it. We’re working on this offense. We’re figuring out what pass schemes fit Justin and fit the receivers we have.
We lost Terry and Parris and Johnnie last year. It was a whole different crowd. This is a whole new group. Tight ends are involved with it. Running backs are involved with it.
We’re building and learning. Probably see some different pass combinations that we’ve had in the past. Last year was a lot more crossers than it is now.
And we’ll keep building that package as we go. But I think the receivers are doing a good job. The older guys are stepping up and the young guys, we’ve got to keep bringing them along.
Q. You guys worked so hard in the offseason to get the defense back on track. Being able to preserve this shot and the way you guys did it at the end, what’s it mean to your coaches and team to put a goose egg up there?
COACH DAY: Again, it’s a tribute to our defensive staff. I think they do a great job. Jeff and Greg and then Al. Al is doing a really good job with those linebackers. Larry’s — we all know how great he is, the best in the country at what he does.
And Matt Barnes helping out way in the back end as well. And those guys, to me, put together a great game plan. But they’re preaching fundamentals. They’re preaching technique and preaching running the ball, pursuit tackling. The guys are nailing it.
The challenge was last week, when some of the depth went down there, they went down the field and scored on us. That didn’t sit well on those guys. The challenge was not let them score.
They’re a good team and good players. And they ran down the field. But to strip the ball down out on the 1-yard line shows we have a backbone, shows we’re going to keep on fighting and I thought it was a good sign for the defense.
You asked about Master. I thought Master ran hard again today. And if he can continue to practice the way that he’s been the last couple of weeks, I think he’s going to have a good season.