Kirby Smart, Ryan Day Discuss Peach Bowl Matchup

COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart took part in their first media availability of bowl season on Sunday. The two head coaches answered questions about this month’s upcoming playoff matchup between their respective squads. The highlights of everything that was said by both head coaches can be found below.

Kirby Smart

  • Kirby Smart played in the Peach Bowl twice and coached in it many times in his career. “It’s always an awesome event.”
  • A lot of respect for Ryan Day and OSU. Day has done a consistent job year in and year out. They have studied Ohio State in the offseason over the years. They knew eventually they would play against the Buckeyes.
  • They have recruited a lot of OSU players and it’s been fun to watch them grow and mature.
  • This is going to be a great venue and a great game.
  • Why did you study OSU in the offseason? “I haven’t studied them this season.” They look at the best teams in the country in the offseason, especially when you’ve seen so much of your conference. They always look at Clemson and OSU to see what they do well and what they do differently. They have elite players and tough, physical guys.
  • Your memories of playing Ohio State in 2014 with Alabama? “Long day.” It was a long day trying to defend Ezekiel Elliott. They were very talented, very physical, and played “with a very obvious purpose.”
  • This is a great game and great opportunity for both teams. The players all know each other. Both programs recruit nationally and these players all play in all-star games together. The NFL loves games like this.
  • How are you handling not having the portal be a distraction since it opens tomorrow? You build a program that players want to stay a part of. Georgia has not gone into the portal at times. “The focus is on our team. It wouldn’t be fair if the focus wasn’t on the team.”
  • It’s great that the bowl schedule fell this way and has Georgia playing in Atlanta. Ohio State has never had a shortage of an alumni base or money and he knows this because he goes against OSU in recruiting.
  • The management of the schedule during bowl prep is critical. Coaches and players. The framework and mindset are critical. Playing Ohio State provides an opportunity of fresh air for the Buckeyes that they have to be ready for.
  • Why don’t you take many portal guys? It’s hard to play at Georgia. The players who play have earned it. It’s foolish to think you can be successful without looking at the portal, but you have to be careful. You have to keep the culture high. It’s critical now to evaluate more recruits because they might show up on the rebound.

Ryan Day

  • “Honor for us to come down. It will be my first time down at Peach Bowl.”
  • Tremendous amount of respect for Georgia and their players and coaches.
  • OSU is very excited to be in the CFP. It’s been an emotional week at OSU. There’s a lot of juice and energy after seeing their name pop up.
  • How are you handling not having the portal be a distraction since it opens tomorrow? The culture at OSU is such that there are a lot of guys who want to be Buckeyes. You find those guys in recruiting, but there will still be situations where guys see playing time available elsewhere. They understand that. Communication is the main thing. They focus on recruiting and developing rather than going into the portal.
  • They always look at Georgia and how they do things. They watch from afar. Stetson Bennett does a great job in all areas. They stress a defense with their tight ends. Defensively they have a great scheme and great players.
  • Excited to play in a great venue in an electric atmosphere. It’s in Georgia’s backyard but it’s an unbelievable atmosphere. That’s what happens this time of year. They would have taken it at the start of the season as well. “You’d cut off your right arm for this kind of opportunity.”
  • You learn what works after being in multiple bowl games about preparation. You then evaluate it, but every year is different because of recruiting, Christmas, COVID, etc.
  • Why don’t you take more portal guys? There’s nothing more important than the culture of your team. When you start to move those kinds of pieces and leaders around, it gets harder to maintain that culture. You have to make sure you bring in the right guys. “It’s hard to just walk in and demand playing time.”
  • How important was it to get Justin Fields from Georgia? He was unbelievable here. Had a major impact here. Kirby Smart handled that so well. Fields had nothing but good things to say about UGA’s staff. Not unlike Joe Burrow leaving Ohio State.

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