Tanner McCalister

Skull Session: Ryan Day Puts Football in Perspective, Greg Schiano Believes Rutgers Can Upset Ohio State and Tanner McCalister Tells the Story Behind His Buckeye Leaves

Congratulations, friends. You’ve made it to the weekend.

Can I interest you in Ohio State football on Saturday as a reward?

I can also offer you a gold star while supplies last.

Let’s have a good Friday, shall we?

KEEPING PERSPECTIVE. Ryan Day started his regularly-scheduled “lightning round” press conference with the media on Thursday with an opening statement expressing his concern for those affected by Hurricane Ian in Florida.

“We talked to the team about it (Wednesday) and just wanted to make sure that I mentioned the fact that boy, what a tough couple of days for a lot of people in Florida,” Day said. “A lot of thoughts and prayers for so many people down there. We go through our day-to-day here, and it goes from game to game, but to see some of the devastation that’s gone on, people’s lives turned upside down, it gives you a lot of pause.”

Ohio State has five players from Florida on its 2022 roster: safety Kye Stokes (Seffner), cornerback Ryan Turner (Hollywood), long snapper Mason Arnold (Tampa), defensive end Kenyatta Jackson (Holywood) and kicker Noah Ruggles (Odessa).

“We’re thinking about all the folks down there, certainly for the people who were affected close to our family, and we’re gonna try to do everything we can to help them,” Day said. “We haven’t heard of anybody in life-threatening situations to this point, but I know communication in some of those areas isn’t great right now, so we’re gonna kind of keep an eye on it the best we can. ”

In Wednesday’s Skull Session, I mentioned that Day understands coaching. I think that’s partially due to his perspective on life – that there are things more important than sports. As he said during Tuesday’s press conference, every coach wants to win, but there needs to be perspective in that.

Day’s comments on Hurricane Ian are yet another example of how well Day keeps things in perspective, and it should make Buckeye Nation admire him even more.

THE SCHIANO SPECIAL. Rutgers football is… fine. That’s the most positive way I can describe the Scarlet Knights – a program that has primarily been a doormat for the Big Ten’s best teams since the school joined the conference in 2014.

How much of a doormat? Ohio State has outscored Rutgers 428-88 across its eight wins over the team from Piscataway, New Jersey. In those matchups, the Buckeyes scored at least seven touchdowns each time and produced 50 or more points in six of the eight contests.

However, Greg Schiano has his players believing they can beat Ohio State on Saturday if they stick to the game plan and all the right pieces fall into place.

I’m not really sure I would expect Schiano – or any coach for that matter – to answer any differently when asked this kind of question. Still, for some reason, I am more inclined to think that Schiano actually believes his team can win this weekend.

It’s too bad Rutgers won’t.

TANNER MCCALISTER, EVERYONE. As a transfer from Oklahoma State, a lot was placed on Tanner McCalister’s shoulders this offseason as someone who could help Ohio State’s defensive talent transition into Jim Knowles’ scheme.

McCalister was a phenomenal translator of the Mad Scientist’s verbiage, but he’s also proven to be a tremendous football player on the back end of the Buckeye defense, with his best performance coming against Wisconsin last weekend.

The veteran safety earned Buckeye Leaves for his efforts in the Big Ten opener, recording four tackles, an interception and a pass breakup in Ohio State’s 52-21 win over the Badgers. In a recent video on the football team’s Twitter, he broke down his performance.

McCalister’s outing drew praise from Day during his weekly radio show with 97.1 The Fan on Thursday, as the fourth-year head coach recognized McCalister’s interception and pass breakup as the plays of the game from his team’s victory.

“I think the two biggest points in the game were the interception that got us out to a fast start and then the breakup on the sudden change at the end of the half. That could have turned into a whole different game if they came down and score,” Day said. “Tanner makes an excellent play to knock that ball down and get a (pass breakup). Both plays by him were at major points in the game.”

McCalister has already made a significant impact in his first four games as a Buckeye. Along with the other players in his unit, McCalister could play an even bigger role moving forward as Ohio State continues settling into Knowles’ scheme, which has been said to be “safety-driven” at its core.

Here’s to more Buckeye Leaves for McCalister in the future.

LEADING THE PACK. After seeing the feedback on Wednesday’s Skull Session, it became clear Eleven Warriors readers like hearing takes from Joel Klatt, so I thought I’d feature him again before Ohio State enters its Week 5 matchup with Rutgers.

On Breaking the Huddle with Joel Klatt, the FOX college football analyst broke down his top 10 teams through the first four games, explaining his belief that Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama are interchangeable as the top three programs thus far.

Klatt’s only pushback towards the Buckeyes is that they haven’t faced a big challenge yet this season. Still, he thinks Ohio State’s 21-10 win over then-No. 5 Notre Dame was essential because of how the Buckeyes won a hard-fought game against a team some expected could be a College Football Playoff contender when the season started.

That performance, combined with the dominant three-game stretch after that, offers Klatt enough confidence to put them at No. 2 behind Georgia but ahead of Alabama. But remember that Klatt said all three teams are interchangeable.

Honestly, I’m surprised more AP voters haven’t aligned themselves with Klatt’s thinking in putting Ohio State as the second-ranked team. The Buckeyes have looked much improved defensively, and – as Klatt mentioned in the video – they have the best offense in the nation through four games (move over Tennessee).

Whatever the reason that Ohio State remains at No. 3, the Buckeyes will have plenty of opportunities to prove their worth throughout the remaining eight regular-season games, especially against No. 11 Penn State and No. 4 Michigan. Just keep winning, and it will all sort itself out.

SONG OF THE DAY. “Ride” by Twenty One Pilots.

CUT TO THE CHASE. Herd the news? Wild boar piglet adopted by cows… ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59… Alzheimer’s drug shows promise in early results of study… Has anybody seen those roaming bulls? Four rodeo escapees on the lam near Fonda, Iowa… Hurricane Ian could bring periods of rain to Ohio State and Rutgers matchup in Columbus.


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