Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters on Tuesday to do a bit of recapping of the Buckeyes’ win over Michigan State, but also to look ahead to Saturday’s annual matchup with Michigan. A handful of captains also joined the fray to speak about the rivalry. Highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
+ The Michigan defense is “significantly different” compared to what they were under Don Brown. They are more of an NFL-style of defense now.
+ Ryan Day’s first game against Michigan was 2017 and he was told JT Barrett might not be able to go even before the game. They were in scramble mode from the outset.
+ Using Craig Young last week was about matchups. He’s bigger and he can give them more in the run game than the cover safety. It’s a game-to-game thing. He has had a great attitude all year and because of that he’s playing in the biggest games right now.
+ They knew Denzel Burke was talented but didn’t know he’d be able to do what he’s done this year. He has another test this week. This is his first rivalry game. He’s very competitive and consistent. He showed up early in spring practices as a playmaker even coming off of a shoulder injury.
+ The UM DEs are going to be a great challenge for the OTs and the entire offense. The receivers are going to have to get open with separation as well.
+ They work this rivalry year-round so that the players know what they’re in for when the game finally gets here. Thayer Munford is the only guy who has started in this game. The guys understand the size and the opportunity of this game. “There’s a first time for everything.”
+ Is the team peaking at the right time? “I mean, I hope so.” They know who they are and what they can do and when they play together, they’re pretty dangerous. The best team doesn’t win, it’s the team that prepares the best.
+ Cade Kacherski is probably a long-term injury. Cody Simon does not look like he has a long-term injury.
+ Michigan has a very good defense that plays with an edge. OSU will need to bring it. It will come down to how hard each team plays and then who executes. Preparation is very, very important.
+ Now it’s a matter of putting together a great gameplan and executing it.
+ There is “a lot of stuff in that [Michigan] tunnel.” There’s barking between players and coaches and that’s how you like it.
+ “The adrenaline’s going now.”
+ When did it hit him how big this game was? His first year. The highlights of the 2016 game were playing all year long and he just wanted to be a part of something like that and enjoy a victory against the team up north. He understands what it means to so many people.
+ He tries not to focus on everything on the line with this game because it can be too much. Just have to grind and prepare. “There is a lot of pressure and that’s the way you want it.”
+ Is there bulletin board material you can use? They focus on themselves and don’t need extra motivation, but the players see it and they’ll throw stuff on the televisions at times.
+ What did last year’s Michigan cancelation do for the team emotionally? It was the third cancelation and it was a quick turnaround. They were just riding the rollercoaster and had to move on. Does that impact them this year? They don’t need any more motivation than what they have.
+ Hoping to have Emeka Egbuka back this week. Why Julian Fleming there last week? “First of all, he wants to do it.” Fleming was in Parker Fleming’s ear for the past month. Fleming has big-play ability. He’s another weapon for them back there.
+ JJ McCarthy is very talented and can be a dual-threat guy. They’ll look at the film and look at his tendencies but they won’t change what they do defensively.
+ “We always have one eye on them.” Whether that’s recruiting or the games or whatever, but you can’t focus too much on them because you still have to stay focused on yourself.
+ They don’t have past QBs reach out to CJ Stroud or anything like that because the game is still the game. You have to go out and play the game like normal. “You’ve just got to go out and do what you’ve done all year.
+ Playing on the road has helped. This will be a new step tho.
+ Michigan having a great record won’t change how OSU prepares, but you better do your homework correctly.
+ He watched this game growing up in New Hampshire. If you love college football, you watch this game.
+ What have they cleaned up in the red zone the last couple of weeks? Just the execution and fewer penalties. The run fits have been better and they’ve done a better job of being efficient and staying on schedule.
+ All three receivers have played at a high level. All three are different and they are all unselfish, which Day appreciates. You just don’t know going into a game who is going to get the majority of the touches.
+ Asked if he finds quiet time for himself right now, Day chuckled. Not much time, no. He did have some time last year by himself because of the pandemic. He’s tried to do that more this year but not this week. You have to maximize every single second. “Every single second.” The only time right now is driving to work or from work.
+ Is he more loose or tight in calling games like this? It’s variable depending on how the game is going. You don’t know how the scoreboard is going to look and it’s never about more than winning the game.
+ What have the last two blowouts done to the rivalry? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” When he’s done at Ohio State one day, maybe he can look back on that. “That means nothing. We’ve got to play really good in this game.” “All I can think about is playing this game.”
+ Donovan Edwards is a good player. They recruited him. Freshmen have come on late in the season and then played well in this game. Edwards is really playing well right now so they have to be aware of him.
+ He doesn’t like talking about awards, especially this week, but he thinks individual awards should go to the best players rather than the guys with the best statistics. Ohio State plays in a lot of blowouts and guys don’t necessarily put up as many stats as they could at OSU.
+ He has noticed his game has gotten better with Tyreke Smith back. They are both good against one-on-ones and if they’re both playing, somebody’s going to be one-on-one.
+ A batted pass is almost as good as a sack and they work on that every day in practice.
+ “This game is as big as it can get every single year.” It’s not bigger because they didn’t play last year. It’s big because it’s big.
+ The young guys know how big the game is. They know that as soon as they walk into the building. They train every day for this.
+ Michigan’s offense is similar to MSU’s. They like to run and stay on schedule. The Buckeyes will have to get them off schedule.
+ He knows both Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Hutchinson is a big, strong guy and Ojabo is a bendy guy. Both are very good.
+ It was tough having the game canceled last year because they put so much work into it.
+ The biggest difference in the defense from week two until now? “I would say confidence.” Guys are better now and playing with more confidence. Having the belief in yourself allows you to play better. “I feel like we really clicked after that Tulsa game.”
+ Did he picture this game when choosing between Michigan and Ohio State, but he’s here now and he’s a Buckeye and that’s all that matters. He doesn’t remember if Michigan emphasized The Game in recruiting like OSU does. He already knew how big this game was because he grew up in Central Ohio.
+ Watching the OSU offense every week, they look like they believe they can’t be stopped. They have an NFL receiving corps. The offensive line is the best in the country. The RBs are great. Pick your poison.
+ His first memory about this game? Just watching games with his friends. He remembers the 2017 game vividly. He was trying to remain neutral while his friends were going crazy.
+ Playing in the game now? “It’s a dream come true.”
+ Is this still a big rivalry? It’s the biggest rivalry in all of sport.
+ Explain why it’s still a rivalry. “You’ve just got to feel it.”
+ They will need to pay attention to throwing to the RBs this week.
+ Haskell Garrett created energy on the first snap last week. That’s when this defense is the best. Defense is about energy. He has big-play ability. He always finds the ball. The DL loves playing with him.
+ “If we can’t get home, get our hands up.”
+ Playing on the road is fun because you get to be the bad guy.
+ Michigan has a big offensive line and the QB is very skilled. They will have to try to get their hands up and deflect passes.
+ What stood out about the DL last week after watching film? Just how much they were detailed in their technique.
+ It’s a different opponent and there are a lot of feelings that go into this game. It’s a different approach because of who they play this week.
+ Michigan has great running backs and they are versatile. This is a big challenge this week.
+ How do they manage emotions? It’s a lot to deal with because of Thanksgiving as well. They have to flip the switch off and then on and get locked in.
+ How much does last year’s cancelation factor into this year’s preparation? Not much. There’s just focusing on the task at hand and what this week means.
+ How do you keep guys emotionally in check? Play with emotion, don’t let emotion play with you. Don’t get thrown out over a stupid penalty. “We need everybody out there.” He needs to control his emotions and the team will look to his example.
+ How was this rivalry treated during his recruitment? He had to take off his blue sweatshirt when he walked into the building on a recruiting trip.
+ “I truly, honestly believe it is the greatest rivalry in all of sport.” He’s had great grandparents talking to him about this game and Woody Hayes.
+ When he makes a big play early, it sets the example for everybody else. And not just for that game, but young guys see that and how it impacts a game immediately.
+ In high school and growing up, his family always emphasized giving back. He has made money through his NIL deals and he is giving back some of that to the community tomorrow.
+ Traditional Hawaiian Thanksgiving meal? Turkey, yams, greens, but for him it was about preparing the pig with his family and cousins, sitting up all night and having that quality time with the family.
+ It’s a blessing and honor to be able to set the example for this team and for them to feed off of him.
+ What is it like to prepare all year for this and then have to face it? That’s why you come here. “We live under pressure and love chaos.”
+ Playing in this game one more time was a small part of his decision to come back. He just wasn’t ready to leave the Brotherhood yet.
+ “I feel 100%.”
+ Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are talented, strong, fast, everything that you would expect. “This is just another challenge for us.”
+ Does it change preparation when you face two guys like this? Every week they face pretty notable guys. There’s always talented guys they are facing and they prepare the same each week.
+ Why did he go through Senior Day? Because he’s graduating and it was a testament to his accomplishment and also a testament to his mom. It was a great opportunity for her to experience that.
+ He played well against MSU because the team played well.
+ This is the biggest challenge of the year because it’s the team up north. “It’s called The Game for a reason.” It’s taxing and they give more to this game than any other opponent they have.
+ The key in this game is execution. Just execute every play. When they do that, they create energy and it gets both the offense and defense rolling. It creates a synergy between both sides of the ball.
+ He couldn’t imagine Dawand Jones playing better than he has as a first-time starter.
+ Nothing got “fixed” on offense, they just executed better because the only thing that can stop them is themselves.
+ Is his adrenaline higher knowing he’s going to be going against Aidan Hutchinson? It’s the team up north. That’s all that matters. The names change. The adrenaline is where it is because it’s the team up north. It’s an awesome opportunity.
+ They’re always aware of who is opposite them as a pass rusher, but you still have to play your game and stay on your keys. The game of football is never going to change in that way.
+ What is his confidence in CJ Stroud this week? Same confidence he had way back against Minnesota. He saw the growth from spring to fall and his dedication to the game. He saw how hard he worked in fall camp. He has now seen him grow as a leader on the field and off the field. He has handled every pressure better than anybody he’s ever seen have that pressure.
+ He is still figuring out if he’s coming back next year. His mission right now is to keep winning games.
+ It’s amazing to be a part of the history of this game. To have your name in the history books is a blessing and an honor.
+ What is it about this game that brings the best out of him? It’s a competitive game and everything you’ve done all year can come out in this game.
+ It was weird not having the game last year. “I’m just glad we get to play in it this year.”
+ Both schools recruited him very hard. The Michigan staff talked a little bit about the rivalry. He “didn’t get too deep into that school.”
+ The offense is very confident right now and they’re clicking on all cylinders has helped. They’re having more fun and they’re spreading the ball around.
+ His record-breaking football is at his house for a little bit to cherish it. His dad wanted to take it home but Chris wanted it for a little while.
+ His freshman year he just kept working because he knew his day was going to come. It happened in this game.
+ They feel like only OSU can stop this offense. There is so much talent at every position. They just need to stay on schedule and spread the ball around.
+ “We definitely feel some type of way about the, but we definitely respect them.”
+ When you’re a WR, you’re not racing the DB, you’re racing the DL. They believe in the offensive line.
+ What does Michigan’s defense do that is a challenge? They have talent at all three levels and have a good scheme.
+ He wanted to play in this game one more time. That’s one of the things he had in his mind when he decided to come back for his senior season.
+ He believes the the young players understand how big this game is. The second-year guys have been preparing for almost 700 days.
+ This game changed the way his career was going. It boosted his confidence. It was huge.
+ Not surprised they have no Biletnikoff finalists. They spread the ball around. They’re not looking for personal awards. They want team awards. “I’m proud of Jamo.” He’s been really good this year. “I can’t do anything but root for him.” He does feel all three of the OSU receivers should have been up there for that award.