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With jam-packed schedule, Ryan Day isn’t daydreaming new plays

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day isn't focused on his playbook right now. (Rick Osentoski/Imagn)

Question Of The Day

With jam-packed schedule, Ryan Day isn’t daydreaming new plays

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and the busy schedule for Ryan Day? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

If nothing else, the quarantine seemed like it might be the ideal laboratory for a cutting-edge offensive mind to tinker with new formulas.

Ryan Day expected there would be free time. He’s got the personnel at Ohio State to execute just about any scheme he could dream up to expand the playbook. And with a second-year quarterback who already proved to be a quick study on the way to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in his debut season, it seemed like the options might be limitless for Day when he had a spare moment in his home office.

But it turns out free time is actually tougher to come by for Day right now. And while there might be a few new ideas jotted down for Justin Fields and the playbook, the Buckeyes coach isn’t doing as much of that as he might have anticipated.

“A little bit, but what I’ve found is that as much you think you’re going to have a lot of free time, it really isn’t that free,” Day said. “There are just a lot of calls to be made, you’re on the phone a lot, so it’s not as efficient as when you’re at the facility where you can just bounce around. You can have the communication with a bunch of people together at once, and you’re just more productive when you’re in the workplace.

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day isn’t drawing up many new plays at home. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“There is some of that going on, but not as much as I thought maybe going into it. There’s just a lot of recruiting calls, a lot of conference calls, a lot of meetings with our players. Just a lot of things come up during the day, and before you know it, the day is kind of eaten up. … And when we watch film as an offensive and defensive staff, it just isn’t as efficient. But there is some free time, and during that time we’re going to try to utilize that to enhance the scheme. But not having a spring is hard. It’s one thing to come up with plays, it’s another for guys to learn them and get good at them.”

Aside from his jam-packed schedule, Day also kept going back to the challenge of trying to install any new plays when the Buckeyes won’t have had the benefit of spring camp to install them. There is no substitute for physical reps when it comes to learning new concepts, and Ohio State certainly won’t want to bombard the roster with new information whenever the shutdown ends and football activities resume.

If it was a professional roster stocked with veterans of thousands of reps with familiarity with all of the base concepts? Maybe Day’s approach would be a little different and he would be devoting more time to the playbook than maintaining the culture of the program. But for the Buckeyes, the focus is on the latter right now.

Once business gets back to normal, Day gets back in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and Fields returns to campus, perhaps then those two can cook up a few new tricks. But for now, Ryan Day is focused on the next conference call, the next recruiting pitch and next team meeting instead.

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Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.