COLUMBUS – Ohio State interim head coach Larry Johnson met with the media following the Buckeyes’ 52-12 win in East Lansing on Saturday.
Head coach Ryan Day and a number of players also spoke following the game.
Here’s a summary of what was said.
+ A lot of things are running through his mind right now. But the players did a great job this week continuing what Coach Day has created. It was ‘next man up’ and it was a great team effort.
+ On the Gatorade bath, he said it was pretty cold. He was surprised the kids set him up. It was a great moment.
+ On Haskell Garrett, Johnson said he was pretty athletic to tip it and then catch his own tip. He’s lucky to still be here and the to play great football he is really proud of him.
+ It was a tough day, they knew some coaches were down and players. They all did a great job of filling in, and moving forward.
+ On the significance of being Ohio State’s first black head coach, he said he really didn’t think about it much. He was just coaching one game and he wanted to get a win and give the program back to Coach Day 5-0. It was never about him, it was about the team. It is a great honor, but everything he does is for the players.
+ Kevin Wilson is the offensive coordinator, he called the plays. Johnson said he was there if he needed him but he didn’t run down and tell Wilson which plays to call.
+ There was a moment in the third quarter where he got a tear in his eye because he was so grateful and glad the players had an opportunity to play. They did a great job throughout the week to have a chance to play on Saturday.
+ The defense had a chip on their shoulder, they had something to prove. They were having fun out there and were flying around. It was a great moment for the defense, to come out and play like they did.
+ “If you’re going to be a head coach for one day, you want Justin Fields with you.” He was a great leader and Johnson enjoyed working more with him this week.
+ He is proud and happy. A lot of guys stepped up and made big plays. It was fun to watch. He couldn’t be prouder of the coaching staff and the players. “What a statement about who we are as a program.”
+ He is hoping they start getting some guys back. He will get back on Monday and they want to start getting guys back in the building. They managed the outbreak well and are hoping the worst is behind them and they can move forward.
+ Justin Fields knows what happened against Indiana and he’s had to sit on it for another week. You could see today, the way he attacked the game, some of his creative plays with his feet, throws down the field. He played really gutsy and made great decisions. He took a huge step today. Kevin Wilson called a great game.
+ On watching the game, Day said he took a lot of notes, yelled a lot, got really excited at times, running around the house, screaming and yelling. It was not easy.
+ On the coaches being out, Day said they did a lot of Zoom meetings. “Thank God for technology because coaches were able to be a part of the conversations.” But so many coaches stepped up in a big way. He saw a team with great energy, toughness that enjoyed being out there, smiling.
+ On the offensive line, Coach Studrawa did a great job preparing them all week. They battled. It wasn’t perfect, but they battled. Guys had to move, they had their first starts, it was good to see some young guys step up.
+ Kevin Wilson and Keenan Bailey put a lot of work in this week.
+ Justin Fields stepped up in a big way as a leader.
+ The decision to have Larry Johnson as interim head coach was his decision and was decided a long time ago. They had contingency plans in place since the pre-season. He had a tear in his eye when he saw him get the Gatorade bath.
+ On the offensive line, they had to change the game plan up a bit but the guys adjusted well. They played a great game for it being their first game. He is proud of the way they stepped up.
+ On his ability to run today, that was just how the game played out. The snaps were a bit wild at first because Harry was nervous but he settled. Whatever he has to do to help the team win he will do.
+ On the uncertainty of the game, this week brought them together. Their leadership got better this week. The leaders stepped up and it was tough at first but they all had to step up. The guys being out, he feels for them and loves them. The team responded well.
+ He was just telling himself to calm down. They went out there and did that, whether it was running and passing. He just had to play with toughness.
+ On the 44-yard run with the stiff arm and the 3rd-and-5 to get the first down, Fields says he isn’t sure he enjoys necessarily initiating contact, but he will do it if he has to. If he has to get yards, he’s going to give his full effort. His body is built for it.
+ He knew he messed up with the interceptions last week, those were dumb mistakes, but he is glad they happened because that was a learning opportunity for him.
+ It was crazy being without Corey Dennis and Coach Day, at times he felt like he was a coach on offense. Keenan Bailey is a great coach, he cares about his players and is great to have and a greater person to know. He had to help lead the room a bit more with his coaches being out and he actually had no problem doing it, he liked it.
+ He is a bit surprised he didn’t get COVID-19 but it was God looking out for him. They had a lot of testing this week.
+ On Tyreke Smith’s performance, Garrett said he is doing really well. There’s always more to his gam, he’s quick and fast.
+ On his touchdown, Garrett said it was big. They had them backed up and needed to flip the field and they did. He was just doing his job and he made a play. Good players make big plays and he was just in the right spot at the right time.
+ Throughout the week, losing the guys on offense, he knew the 2s were still the best of the best. He wasn’t worried about them because they have been trained for this opportunity. The defense wasn’t worried about the offense.
+ It was a big day for everybody, offense, defense, all around. The whole team stepped up, coaches, staff, players, support staff, everybody did a little extra and it showed.
+ On everything that he has been through this year, to score the touchdown, means a lot to him. It reassures him. It was very emotional and he was just happy to change momentum in the game and light the fire of the guys on the sideline.
+ The last time he had an interception or touchdown was in high school. But in walk throughs on Thursday, it was tipped and he ran it back. It was wild to happen in the game.
+ On defending the run so well, they are very proud of themselves for that. Their goal is to have under 100 yards per game. They are proud of themselves for that.
+ On his explosive performance in this game, Sermon said he trusted his ability. It was slow the first few games but he kept working and was able to make the most of his opportunities in this game.
+ On dealing with this week, he said it was a rough week. The coaches told them it’s adversity and they were going to face it. Everybody was ready when their number was called and they fought and took care of business.
+ On a breakout game, Sermon said he felt like it was going to happen. He felt like he was getting better each week and was getting used to playing with the offensive line.
+ Health-wise, he feels great. He worked hard in the off-season to be ready. He feels good.
+ His touchdown celebrating was pointing at the watch meaning it was time. It just popped in his head.
+ He is really happy for the offensive line, they came here to play and make the most of their opportunities and they did.
[Photo courtesy of Ohio State Department of Athletics. Photo from Ohio State vs. Nebraska 10/24/20]