Ryan Day has been spectacular through his first two years as Ohio State head coach. Tonight, however, he’s looked a bit out of his depth coaching against Nick Saban and Alabama.
Day is coming off of one of the most impressive coaching performances of the year, dicing up Clemson in the Sugar Bowl 49-28. The Buckeyes put up 639 total yards in that one, in an incredible balanced effort against the Tigers.
Tonight, they’re on the opposite end of that kind of performance. Early in the fourth quarter, Alabama leads 52-24. The Crimson Tide have 582 yards, while Day’s offense has only managed 278 so far against an Alabama defense that has been susceptible at times this season.
Justin Fields is clearly being hampered by injury, after suffering a hip pointer against Clemson. Trey Sermon, who has been dominant this postseason, exited the game early with an injury. Still, Day’s offense hasn’t been able to keep pace at all from the second quarter on. He’s getting criticized for some conservative play on top of it.
Ryan Day is known for being aggressive, but:
1. Punt on 4th-and-9 in plus territory
2. Field goal from the opposing six
3. Running out the first half with plenty of time to get a score.
I disagree with all three of those decisions. This team is too talented to not go for it.
— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) January 12, 2021
Ryan Day’s been totally overmatched tonight.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) January 12, 2021
Ryan Day really saw how this game was going and decided, "Yeah, I am going to kick a field goal from my opponent's 6-yard line." Once again, my new theory is there are no good coaches
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) January 12, 2021
There’s not much Ryan Day can do about DeVonta Smith going for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, though he’s missed almost the entire second half with a hand injury, and Ohio State’s offense hasn’t been able to close the gap, as Kerry Coombs’ defense is still getting torched in every which way by Steve Sarkisian.
Day is a young coach, and few expected him to pick up the mantle of Urban Meyer so seamlessly over these last two years. The Buckeyes program is still super talented, and the future in Columbus is bright.
Tonight, though, Nick Saban’s Alabama program is showing once again that it is head and shoulder above everyone else in the sport.