COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Sunday following the announcement that the Buckeyes would be playing Georgia in the first round of the College Football Playoffs later this month. He discussed the matchup and what is to come, and he also provided a number of updates on his football team. The highlights of everything that Day had to say can be found below.
- Exciting day. Third playoff appearance in four years.
- Is this a challenge to get the team back up for this? You can feel the energy in the Woody today. When you saw the name come up, it was a shot of adrenaline in the whole building. Making the CFP was the goal and it happened. Ohio State is not the only team to lose their last game before making the playoffs. Now it’s about maximizing this month and correcting mistakes.
- This opportunity wasn’t available yesterday, but now it is. The entire team wants the opportunity. So what are they going to do with it?
- What do you need to change about your approach to big games? They have had a good start to the month. They have been preparing to make it. They practiced twice last week. It came together this weekend and here they are. They will use the formula from 2020 against Clemson to prepare for this game. Starts with fundamentals, then game plan, then game week preparation.
- They just gave up too many explosive plays in the last game. You look in the mirror to see why the players weren’t put in positions to be successful. That starts with the head coach. They had a lot of great, hard conversations last week. “We’ll find out if we can come out of this thing stronger.”
- What would a rematch against Michigan be like? You don’t want to get ahead of yourself, but that would be historic. Everybody has thought about that. You can’t say you haven’t. But you have to beat the defending national champions to get there. Georgia is the real focus for this team.
- Can it help to play looser if you are the underdog? Maybe, they’ll see how the month go. “I don’t know how many people are going to give us a chance in this game.” It will be something unique to this year.
- It hurt not to play in the Big Ten Championship Game. It was awful. But they looked ahead to Georgia and Michigan as possible opponents along with the self-scouting that they did.
- The team that maximizes these next four weeks is the team that is going to win. There was no target yesterday. Now they have something to work towards. It was invigorating.
- There will be no fear of failure. They almost had their season taken away. It was given back, so now they have an opportunity to finish the way they want. A lot of people counted them out, but here they are. “I kind of like being in this role, but now we have to do something with it.”
- “What an unbelievable chance to go do something special.”
- Does being an underdog change the mindset of the team? They’ll see as the month goes on. Georgia just put 50 on LSU. They’re very good and they have OSU’s attention. “I mean, how fun is this gonna be to go play that team down there.”
- The decision-making process regarding Jaxon Smith-Njigba is both a health question and him returning to the team and not opting out. Everybody else should be back who has dealt with issues this season. “I think the running back position, it was hard for them. Nobody wanted to get on the field more than Trey and Miyan.” They kept trying every week. It gets frustrating, but now they have time to heal from those things. “It will be nice to be at full strength.”
- What is the mindset around the WHAC? They talked about it midweek at practice. If the playoffs happen, don’t wake up on Sunday and be surprised. It is going to happen, prepare for it now. They did. “What an amazing story of what could be.” They know what happened and they know what could happen. “We’re two games away from winning the national championship.”
- It’s surreal to think about playing Michigan again but what matters is playing better on offense and defense. They’re not going to dream about some matchup, they’re going to work on the game in front of them.
- How would you have felt about playing Michigan in the semifinal? It was out of their hands. “We gotta win them both anyways to go do it.”
- Do you still feel like this is a dangerous team? They know what it’s like being in the playoffs. They are dangerous in all three phases. Explosive on offense, opportunistic on defense.
- They had a very focused week of practice prior to Michigan.
- Any time frame on Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s decision? “We’ll see.”
- He has not yet send anything to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “We’ll see how it goes.” “What a pro he is.” Happy to see them win the Pac 12 Championship Game and go to the Rose Bowl.
- Can you pinpoint what happened defensively with the breakdowns? It’s a combination of things. You always feel like you can put your guys in better situations when things go wrong. They could have done that. They could have executed better as players as well. It’s never one thing. The first half was just the two passes, but that’s what happens when it comes to even matchups. It can turn on one play. OSU had some mental errors and penalties. There’s a litany of things that can be fixed.
- “I’d rather not get into it…” on the botched fake punt.
- How important is it to be perfect in this game? The winning teams usually score 49 or 50 points, so everything has to be on point and you have to be able to score in games like this, “that’s for sure.”
- The hours after the loss to Michigan? “I’d rather not get into it.” It was awful. He listened to the Pac 12 Championship Game on the drive home from Cincinnati on a recruiting trip. Then watched the end at home.
- The practices last week were all with the mindset that they were practicing for a playoff game.
- He doesn’t listen to any of the criticism from the Michigan game. If you did it would drive you insane.
- Were you too timid in the play calling? There’s always things you want to have back.
- What’s the challenge to the offense moving forward? In the big games like the CFP, the team that wins is north of 40 points, so that’s the goal. You can rely on your defense, but the offensive mindset has to be 40-50 points are a must.
- “I think it’s great” that two Big Ten teams are in the CFP. Penn State at No. 7 is great for the conference as well. This division was very tough.
- Georgia: a lot of talent, very good coaches. They stress you with two tight ends. They are physical. Stetson Bennett runs the whole thing.
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