Ohio State coach Ryan Day wore an unpopular color inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Thursday.

It was blue.

Rather than wearing the usual school-issued polo shirt for his news conference, he emerged in front of reporters in another T-shirt. Day reminded them that it was not the shade that Michigan wears.

“This is New Hampshire blue,” he said.

 

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The shirt’s words mattered most. They read, “MAC STRONG.”

The reference was for Sean McDonnell, the longtime New Hampshire coach. Day was a former quarterback for McDonnell. Before the season began last month, McDonnell took a leave of absence from the team after being diagnosed with cancer. Day sought to pay a tribute.

“I just wanted to let him know that we're all thinking about him,” Day said. “I learned what it means to be tough from him in my coaching career. I learned what it means to have will power, and I know he is fighting this thing with his family. Everybody who is a Wildcat, everyone who is in the UNH family, and everybody in my family is thinking about him and love him. I know he's going to beat this thing.”

 

 

 

Day was a sophomore at New Hampshire when McDonnell was elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach, and Day's first coaching opportunity came on McDonnell’s staff as a tight ends coach.

Smith injured

Defensive end Tyreke Smith, who did not appear in the second half of Ohio State’s win at Indiana on Saturday, suffered a new injury, Day confirmed Thursday.

He said only that it was “something new going on.”

Smith missed the season opener while recovering from offseason groin surgery, but the latest setback appeared unrelated, and Day said his absence had not been due to a precautionary measure.

Against the Hoosiers, Smith, a sophomore, made his first career start opposite star pass rusher Chase Young. Day said the team planned to continue to evaluate Smith during practice later Thursday.

The Buckeyes release a weekly status report Friday, listing players as either available or unavailable for the game. But under a new policy, Day will not provide details about injuries.

Senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper has also been out for the first three games.

Running to the left

Several of Ohio State’s touchdown runs this season have been through holes paved by the left side of the offensive line, including running back J.K. Dobbins’ season-high 60-yard touchdown run in the second game against Cincinnati.

That side is manned by guard Jonah Jackson and tackle Thayer Munford.

According to data from Pro Football Focus, runs between center Josh Myers and Jackson have averaged 8.2 yards per carry, runs between Jackson and Munford have averaged 4.5 yards per carry, and runs off tackle past Munford have averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

The averages are much higher than those on the right side of the offensive line. Myers credited the run blocking from Jackson and Munford.

“Both of them are big, fast, strong, athletic,” Myers said. “And they play with a mean streak, which is really important in the run game. I think both of them are really aggressive between the whistles and use their athleticism and strength to their advantage.”

Laurinaitis on hand

Former Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis will be a part of the Big Ten Network’s broadcasting crew for the game Saturday against Miami University.

Laurinaitis, an analyst for the network, will provide color commentary.

 

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman