Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz took part in separate Zoom interview sessions late Sunday afternoon to preview the Cotton Bowl matchup between the Buckeyes and the Tigers. Both coaches had plenty of positive things to say about each other and their respective teams. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
- “We have a tremendous amount of respect for the Cotton Bowl.” The Cotton Bowl is the gold standard of hospitality. “We’re certainly looking forward to returning to the Cotton Bowl. Great opponent in Missouri.” Looking forward to competing against them. “Our guys will be excited to finish the season off on the right note.”
- On the challenge of Missouri’s offense and the possibility of opt outs: Any time you’re playing somebody in a bowl like this, you’re going to get challenged. There may be opportunities for young guys to step in. It will be a good month of preparation and practice for the younger guys.
- Were you content with the progress of the offensive line this season? Coming out of the last game there were things they could have done better. There were some good things in that game but there were some breakdowns in protection in the last drive that cost them. When you look at the season as a whole there was definitely progress made, but it wasn’t good enough to win the last game. They need to identify what those issues are and get them better.
- How much of a joy is it to watch such a consistent linebacker like Tommy Eichenberg. He took the next step this year. Really helped himself by coming back for a senior year. He can diagnose plays and communicate to the front and back end. He’s one of the best linebackers in the country. He can play himself into one of the top linebackers in the draft. His production speaks for itself.
- Thoughts on the importance of this game and hopes for the future of the playoffs: The Cotton Bowl has been a big part of college football for a long time. It’s always an honor to be part of such a great bowl that has had so many great players and great coaches. Next year, it will be a big change but there’s a bunch of time to process that in the coming months.
- First impressions of Missouri and what are the differences that SEC teams usually present: Haven’t gotten into Missouri just yet because the announcement was just made, but he knows the Tigers have a great scheme on offense. Also you have to bring it every week in the SEC, so any time you’re winning like they are, you have to be a great challenge for an opponent.
- What do these bowl practices mean for the Buckeyes? It’s three phases: fundamental, game plan, and then on-site practices. They’ll work on fundamentals with the young guys and give the older guys an opportunity to get healthier.
- “Any time you’re on the field, it matters.” “We want to make sure we’re finishing the season the right way.”
- On the preparation for this bowl game: they’ve got finals happening, coaches are on the road recruiting, so you have to balance things. They’ll start with fundamentals, then get into game planning, then have practices down in Dallas.
- On maybe not having everybody available for this game: “Expecting everybody to play.” “Our guys will be ready to roll.”
- “Very excited to participate” in the 88th Cotton Bowl Classic. It’s an outstanding venue. A tremendous opponents coached by an outstanding coach in Ryan Day.
- On his relationship with Ryan Day: “I think he’s a tremendous football coach.” Have followed his career. Have a lot of respect for the way he’s gone about his business. “I think one of the elite coaches in college football.” Ohio State is one of the offenses he likes to watch because they’re on the cutting edge. Also a lot of respect for Day as a person.
- Missouri has sold 80% of their ticket allotment.
- Any opt outs expected? “Our team plans to play.” Should be full strength, but there may be some injuries. The seniors are planning to play.
- You can’t worry about what the opponent is doing regarding opt outs. The thing about a team like Ohio State is when somebody opts out, there’s somebody very talented stepping in. You concern yourself more with the scheme rather than worrying about who may or may not be playing. Every player has a decision they need to make.
- “When you see your name up against Ohio State, that’s a blue blood, national brand.” He’s never in his wildest dreams thought about coaching against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl, so it’s going to be something he’s very present for.
- As a head coach you have the opportunity to model the way you want your players to lead on the field.
- How important would this win be for you moving forward. Echoing what Ryan Day said, any time you’re keeping score, you want to win. This is another good opportunity against a very good opponent.
- Where did you see your biggest benefit in giving up play calling? He had other coaches from other teams tell him that 90% of coaching football was having your players motivated. He has spent so much time worrying about the Xs and Os that he lost a little sight on what the focus and motivation of the games were and the plans to win. It also showed up in game management because he was more focused on being present in motivating players and staff.
- This is a dream to be associated with the Cotton Bowl. “My phone’s been blowing up about how great of an experience this is going to be.”