Friday, March 06, 2020

How Ohio State football’s Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson could contrast and coexist as play callers in 2020

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson may take on more play calling in 2020.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football coach Ryan Day and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson took dissimilar routes to their current occupations.

Day, who turns 41 next week, is a New Englander who played at New Hampshire. He rose quickly through the coaching ranks as a quarterback guru. Wilson, 58, played offensive line at North Carolina. He spent over 25 years in coaching before his first head coaching shot at Indiana in 2011.
Yet from time to time both men are of the same mind. Wilson recalled a specific moment from last December’s Fiesta Bowl against Clemson.
“I said the same thing he called and we called it simultaneously, and he gets on and he said, ‘That was eerie,' ” Wilson said.
Cute, but here’s what really matters: Did the play work?
“Actually, protection broke down ... but Justin (Fields) made us look good,” Wilson said. “He made us look smarter than we are and it ended up being a good call, so we got away with it.”
Back in January, Day said his first season as a head coach gave him a new perspective on time management. His primary duty is to oversee all aspects of the program. He also keeps a portion of his attention on offense. Specifically, he could not completely separate himself from the quarterback room.
Day said he entered 2020 conscious of letting go of some of those attachments, and trusting the rest of his staff. That could mean more direct input from Wilson from possession to possession.
“After going through it for a year, it’s very difficult with all the things that come with this job to be in that room all the time coaching the quarterbacks,” Day said. "Certainly (I’m) involved with the offense.
“And Kevin is a huge part of what we do on offense, and he’s going to continue to do more. We’ve talked even about moving forward, having him share some of the play calling roles with me. And we’ll continue those conversations as we go through the spring.”
Day immediately preceded Wilson as OSU’s offensive coordinator, then promoted the tight ends coach into that role. While Wilson’s rise was not as abrupt as Day’s, he made his name leading some of the most powerful offenses of the past 15 years.
Wilson preceded Sean Payton as OC at Miami of Ohio, spent three seasons at Northwestern and shared the co-OC title with Chuck Long at Oklahoma. After taking over the title in 2006 — with the help of Adrian Peterson and Sam Bradford — Wilson’s offenses averaged 448.5 yards per game over the next five seasons. The 2008 Sooners averaged 51.1 points per game and totaled 7,670 yards.
During his head coach tenure at Indiana, Wilson shared play calling duties with Kevin Johns, and at times took the lead. In a 2016 CBS Sports article, he described that process as a collaborative one, born in staff-wide meetings early in a week of game prep. He and Johns scripted the opening plays of drives, because Wilson felt those “drive-starters” were key to building an offensive rhythm.

Wilson feels his background and experience — and his resulting read on the field — complement the vision Day brings from his younger viewpoint. Occasionally, one sees things the other does not. This shared concept is not a radical one for their relationship, as it has already existed the past two years in some capacity.

“We kind of do it collectively, as far as like, ‘Hey, what run do you like? Give me this, give me that,’ ” Wilson said. "'What do you think in here or there?'

“He’s got final say. So even if you’re calling, he’s always going to say hey, give me this or don’t do this or whatever.”

Day already took a gamble this offseason when he promoted former quality control coach Corey Dennis to quarterbacks coach. Day’s obvious continued influence in the room mitigates that risk somewhat.
Even as Wilson potentially calls more plays, he will do so with a shared mind with the head coach.

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