Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Trey Sermon, Tuf Borland Preview National Championship Game vs Alabama

COLUMBUS – As a part of the College Football Playoff National Championship game, both coaches held virtual press conferences on Monday to preview the matchup.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, running back Trey Sermon, and linebacker Tuf Borland answered questions from reporters.

Here are the highlights.

Ryan Day

+ This is quite an honor. The guys fought so hard to have this opportunity and it’s unbelievable.

+ He has so much respect for Coach Saban and their tradition of winning.

+ Justin Fields finished the game and it was remarkable, that was one of the gutsiest things he has ever seen. Fields wasn’t coming off the field because he’s a competitor, but he leaves everything up to the medical staff. Day said Fields texted him saying he felt better waking up on Saturday morning than he expected.

+ Fields started to hear some rumblings about the fact that he didn’t play well and that bothered him. He hasn’t had a lot of adversity, and he had to overcome the adversity after the Northwestern game. The way he played against Clemson was excellent. That’s the sign of great growth as a quarterback which is huge.

+ He expects Fields to play but the policy is to not specify on injuries.

+ Trey Sermon kept going every single day and never complained. “It’s remarkable what he’s done.” He has a chance to go down in Ohio State history.

+ Receivers in the last five to 10 years, their skill level has increased nationally. “You’re seeing some of the best in this game.”

+ On any concern about maintaining the same level of intensity, Day said the goal was never to just beat Clemson, it was to win the National Championship. That was an emotional game, but the goal was to have a chance to win this one. The most prepared team is going to win the game. They do have confidence now.

+ They are going to have to play even better than last week to beat Alabama.

+ On Saban having Ohio State at No. 5 in his final coaches poll, Day said what really matters is playing the game.

+ Saban has a tradition of success. His career speaks for itself.

+ Because they weren’t playing a lot of games, they had to practice harder. That was the only way to get better fundamentally.

Trey Sermon

+ On the smirk into the ESPN camera, Sermon said he was looking at the replay and heard it was reversed, he didn’t really think he was down at first but then he saw his knee barely touched the ground. “It was just funny.”

+ On the Michigan State game and his success from that game, Sermon said he wanted to be able to contribute more. He wasn’t playing his best before. He started practicing a lot harder and started doing whatever he could to improve. He felt like the week before the MSU game, he was clicking with the offensive line, and it showed against Michigan State.

+ Justin Fields has grown a lot. Everybody on the team respects him and knows he is a great player.

+ On an emotional year, Sermon said this opportunity to play for a title is so special. To make it to this point means a lot to them. They are excited for the opportunity, but they know the job isn’t finished yet.

+ This feels like a mix between a dream and something he expected all along. “It’s just very exciting. It’s amazing and we’re all excited.”

+ On playing Alabama in the Orange Bowl, Sermon said he remembers them being a tough, physical team. At the time they were flying around all over the defense. The game goes by quick. “You definitely have to execute and make sure you don’t have any mistakes.”

+ On Ezekiel Elliott’s post-season run in 2014, Sermon said he remembers watching it and it’s a great feeling to be in the same position. “A lot of great running backs have gone through here, Zeke’s [Elliott] one of them and to be in the conversation is an honor.”

+ Alabama’s defense is big and strong. They fly to the ball.

+ Things were pretty rough in the beginning once he got to Ohio State due to the pandemic. But the guys welcomed him in since day one. Now they are his brothers.

+ On having something to prove in this game, Sermon said this team has a big chip on its shoulder. They just feel like they’re one of the best teams in the country and they try and prove that every time they are on the field. They all believe in each other. They have that chip and they play with it.

Tuf Borland

+ On Alabama, Borland said “they have talent all over the place.”

+ They are going to have to find another level of play this week.

+ On Justin Hilliard, Borland said he’s a guy that has seen it all, the good the bad and the ugly. He has fought through so much and to see his success, it’s awesome. He’s an unbelievable player and person. Nobody is surprised because of how hard he works and he deserves everything that comes his way. He’s a warrior, and he always has been. He’s getting everything he deserves.

+ On seeing Ohio State beat Alabama in 2014 and committing shortly after, Borland said it was cool to see the success but that wasn’t a dealbreaker for him. “You win with people.”

+ Al Washington deserves a lot of credit.

+ On Najee Harris, Borland said it will be a huge challenge and they have to be locked in every play. He’s a bigger back but he shows great patience and acceleration. “He can hurt ya.”

+ On the confidence boost after facing Clemson, Borland said they’ve always had confidence in themselves but it showed them what they are capable of. They always believed they can compete with anyone in the country because they practice against the best offense each week