ATLANTA — The final press conference of the lead-up to the Peach Bowl took place early Friday morning. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart took part in a joint press conference as both coaches were peppered with questions about their upcoming College Football Playoff semifinal matchup. The highlights of everything the pair had to say can be found below.
- This has been a great week for the guys. Everything is centrally located, which helped them get in and out of places quickly. Been a good week of practice.
- Toughness is a necessity in football. The CFP will be the most physical games of the season. The Big Ten and SEC are always physical. “You have to win your one-on-one battles.” This game is about running around and hitting people.
- Playing in the CFP is football at the highest level. The atmosphere is going to be tremendous. The opponent is going to be tough. You have to be physical and violent in this game.
- Paris Johnson is a tremendous young man. His story is one of the reasons you get into coaching. You want to have an impact on young people.
- So much respect for what Kirby Smart has done this year and in his time at Georgia. Day knew they had an opportunity this year to face Georgia, so they are excited about the opportunity.
- What concerns you the most with UGA’s defense? Georgia is a complete team with a complete defense. Talented in the back end. Tremendous scheme. Athletic linebackers and a powerful front. That’s what you get when you play in the CFP.
- How have you adjusted to the pressure of your job? “We embrace that. Our players embrace that. That’s why you come to Ohio State.” You want the opportunity to play in games like this.
- Miyan Williams was back to practice yesterday and he’ll be ready to go.
- What have you seen from the Big Ten in your tenure and how important is it to have two teams in the CFP? The level of play has improved over his time as head coach. It’s important that two teams from the B1G are in it. You have to play well week in and week out. Nine conference games is more than most, and then when you play another P5 team, that’s like 10 conference games.
- What have you learned about UGA on the recruiting trail? Kirby Smart and his staff work hard at it. No stones are unturned. UGA doesn’t just assume Georgia kids are going to Georgia either, they work hard on keeping those guys in state.
- You still have the next-man-up mentality during bowl prep. The good news is you have enough time to help get young people ready.
- There should be some compensation to players for playing in the CFP.
- They will keep their routine the same. Today is a walk-through. They’ll have meetings. They’ll have their “best Fridays in football.” They will have a dinner, watch a movie, watch some football, then get to bed.
- How is game prep different when you are preparing for a bowl? They spent the first part of the month on fundamentals. You have more time to look at your opponent but at the end of the day it comes down to who executes best. They try not to start the game plan too early.
- There will ups and downs in this game, so you just have to play as hard as you can.
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been a great venue for them this week. You try to make it as much like home as possible.
- Have any new leaders emerged this month? You know who the leaders are and the guys you turn to. Those guys have done a great job. “I won’t point one or two guys out because we’ve got a great group of guys.”
- Always an honor to be part of the Peach Bowl.
- What does physicality mean to you? It’s a part of every football game. When you study who makes the playoffs, those teams are physical and they can run the ball. They win the line of scrimmage. There are a lot of different ways to see toughness.
- What’s it like to have these two teams play each other? It’s exciting to have these two brands together. It’s about the players, not the coaches. It is going to be an incredible environment.
- How have you adjusted to the pressure of your job? “There’s always been pressure, so I don’t know that there’s an adjustment to pressure.” The expectations don’t change. They embrace that. This program has had good leadership over the last 6-7 years and that has built a good culture.
- What’s the deal with your team doing yoga? They do that every Thursday. The players like it. Makes them feel better and more refreshed from a recovery standpoint.
- What have you learned about OSU on the recruiting trail? Respect is the No. 1 thing. He was upset that they lost out on CJ Stroud. It was great recruiting him.
- Still hopeful to get WR Ladd McConkey and RT Warren McClendon back this week.
- CJ Stroud is a tremendous leader. He is a quiet and humble guy, but very talented. Great vision down the field and has the athleticism to take off and run.
- You can’t put a number on how much revenue should be shared with players for CFP without doing studies. But the CFP does provide money for families to travel to the games.
- Georgia is treating this as a road game in terms of their arrival. So they’ll do their arrival, walk-through, and a movie tonight.
- What is your biggest concern about OSU’s offense and is this the best offense you’ve faced this year? Tough to say without facing them, but on tape they have it all. They have one of the best tight ends they’ve seen this year. Talented receivers and running backs, and a quarterback who can get the ball there. “There’s going to be one-on-one matchups all over the field.” You have to disrupt his throwing because he’s so accurate. It will still come down to turnovers and third downs.
- On the transfer portal during CFP prep: It’s sustainable because nobody is going to weep and cry for the teams in the CFP not being able to concentrate more on the portal.
- How is game prep different when you are preparing for a bowl? It’s good to have Christmas in there to give the players a break because you have to make sure they still want to play. You don’t want to wear on them over the entire month.
- How has Stetson Bennett been at practice this month? He’s been consistent. You sometimes worry when your player is on the awards circuit, but Bennett being 25 years old, it doesn’t affect him like it might for a 20-year old.
- What kind of recruiting pitch can this game be for you? They don’t look at is as a recruiting pitch. They are only focused on what it means for the guys who are already on the team.
- OSU has elite playmakers at WR with ball skills. They have all had great training and they have learned from older players as young guys. They also recruit at a high level.
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