Ohio State head coach Ryan Day spoke with reporters following the Buckeyes’ 52-24 loss to Alabama in the national title game. He answered questions about the difficulties of this game and this season. Also speaking with the media were quarterback Justin Fields, cornerback Shaun Wade, and right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere. Highlights from much of what they said are below.
— “Tough night. Tough night. Proud of the seniors and the season we had, but a tough night. A lot to unravel.”
— Asked about the lack of games for the Buckeyes hurting them, “this season has been crazy, disruptive, all the above.”
— They needed to play their best game against Alabama and they didn’t.
— “We need a break. We need to get away.” Kids miss their families. “We all just need a break.” They have already started to put together a schedule for the spring but they all need to get away for awhile. “We’ll unwind for a while and have an opportunity to reflect on what this season has been.” You can’t just go back to work.
— Alabama is very good schematically and they have really good personnel. It’s one thing to have a really good play, it’s another thing to execute it. OSU didn’t do either of those well enough to win.
— Why did the game slip away? “I don’t think there’s one thing. I think there’s several things.” OSU didn’t convert and Alabama kept making plays. “We couldn’t keep up.”
— “Justin’s been unbelievable.” For him to go out there and play today shows his toughness and how much he loves his brothers. “He was not 100% tonight.”
— Why so many linebackers? They wanted to make sure they didn’t change what they do fundamentally, but they did have some changeups. However, it’s one thing to have a bunch of ideas, it’s another to be able to execute them.
— DeVonta Smith, he hasn’t seen one better than him. He plays stronger than he looks. He’s fast. He’s quick. “He just eats up ground down the field. Tremendous ball skills.”
— The pressure to score on every possession is tough. “The pressure mounts.” The turnover early got them going.
— OSU did do some different things on defense and played some two-high defense. “I thought we did mix it up a decent amount. But again, it’s another thing to actually execute it.” This is one of the better offenses in college football in a long time. Execution was an issue. Had to stop the run and their balance is a challenge. “Clearly we didn’t hold up well enough in the pass game.”
— Losing Trey Sermon on the first play of the game hurt. Missing Tommy Togiai and a few others, it is what it is. “Nobody feels sorry for you so you gotta keep pushing forward.”
— On kicking the field goal, if it was fourth-and-3 they probably go for it. But it was on the 5 or 6, so he went for the FG instead.
— There’s an hour-long answer to dealing with the pandemic this year as a football program. Everybody in the program has learned about themselves this year. For the guys in the locker room who will be coming back, they will be driven by the feeling of leaving the field with a loss.
— This season was very difficult to find a rhythm. Guys were constantly out. But to work through all of it and get to here was an unbelievable success. The ultimate goal was to win the game, but he couldn’t be prouder of what this team accomplished this year.
— Wyatt Davis reinjured his knee. It’s sore right now. “Not sure what the diagnosis is. He’s sore. He’s certainly in pain.”
— Offensively, when they’d get that first first down, they’d get going. When they didn’t, they went three-and-out. They like to go tempo but you can’t always do that when you face an offense like this. You want to give your defense a break. Hard to get a rhythm in this one.
— “At the end of the day I was able to play and I didn’t get the job done. I was healthy enough and I was able to be out there.”
— “I’m gonna miss everybody.”
— Losing Trey Sermon was tough but the mentality of competitive excellence means next man steps up.
— After the game he was telling the younger guys to remember this feeling and never let it happen to them again. Of course they were down, but they have time left. They just need to get back to work and let this feeling fuel them.
— Alabama is a great team “we’ve just got to be better.”
— Asked how this loss will motivate him in the offseason, he says it will motivate the team to get better and “work our butts off.”
— Why did Alabama have success in space with DeVonta Smith? They have a great scheme and they kept giving him the ball in space.
— Definitely it was worth it to come back this year. He grew as a man and he saw a lot of growth from his teammates. He’s happy they were able to get to this point and this team accomplished some big things. “I’m proud of them. I’m proud of everybody.”
— Ohio State has a great program with a strong brotherhood. They have been through so much this year and they showed their fight this year.
— He wants this team to be remembered for how much they fought to be here. Their season was canceled this year. They had fall camp during school. They stayed focused and they kept on fighting. “I’m very, very proud of this season.” Happy that the Big Ten commissioner let them have a season. The 2021 secondary will be good with Sevyn Banks, Cameron Brown, Josh Proctor, and whoever else they have back there.
— Alabama has an explosive offense. How many points did they need to score to win? Just one more point. That’s all they were thinking about. The OSU offense wasn’t thinking about the Alabama offense.
— It was tough losing Trey Sermon. It was heartbreaking for the offensive line and offense. “We didn’t change anything.” They stuck to the game plan. They have prepared all season to replace somebody if they went down.