ATLANTA — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, along with quarterback C.J. Stroud and Zach Harrison met with the media immediately following the 42-42 loss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
After a cool down period, the media was permitted to then interview players in the locker room. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, quarterback Stetson Bennett, and defensive back Javon Bullard also answered questions from reporters.
Here are the highlights of what was said.
+ “I told the guys I’m proud of the way they played. I’m proud of the way they competed. For the older guys, the seniors, proud of what they’ve done for the program. For the younger guys, the guys that are coming back, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow and see what it takes to win in the CFP.”
+ On losing significant players in this game, Day said losing Marvin Harrison Jr. absolutely had an impact on the game. “What this guy did and the way he competed in the second half with all those things coming at him, I just can’t say enough. I’m so proud of the way he played.”
+ On not getting the targeting call, “I was told that it was not targeting, that he didn’t take a shot to the head, which is hard — I didn’t see it, so I don’t know. But to get a concussion and not get hit in the head, I’d have to see the replay.”
+ “It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win though. And I think that’s probably what hurts the most is that, when you put that much work and that much energy and that much time into something and you’re right there and you just — you don’t get the victory. This is a performance business, and you win or you lose, and we lost the game. That’s just what hurts to our core. And that’s what it is. We’re here to win, and it didn’t happen.”
+ “This is the way that we need to play football. You can see the energy and passion on the sideline, and you can see the way guys were playing physical. I mean, listen, that’s a good team. Let’s call it for what it is there. They are defending national champs, undefeated. They’re a good team. But I don’t think there’s one guy in that locker room that doesn’t feel like we shouldn’t have won the game. Again, that’s a part of this thing that is going to sit in our stomachs for a long time.”
+ On the defensive performance, “It’s a team loss, and I thought the defense played gritty at times. They got that huge interception. They fought. They kept grinding. They had the fourth down call come back. They got the negative play. They forced a field goal. So, again, all we were talking about was just swinging as hard as we can. We did give up some explosive plays again. We did. And it was something that we spent a lot of time talking about is avoiding the big play. I think the difference was, in this game, it didn’t demoralize us in this game. We kept swinging and fighting, and we just kept going at it.
+ On the last drive, “the last drive, man, I seen how much time we had with timeouts, and I knew we could do it. I tried my hardest to get us down here. I got to maybe split somebody else, make another move, just try to get a little more, but I tried my hardest. I think I left my heart out on that field. Of course, it’s something that’s heavy on the heart. It’s going to be tough, but I’d rather — I don’t want to go out there with anybody else. I love my teammates so much. We put everything on the line, and I would never want to do it with anybody else.”
+ On the defensive effort, “42 points, we can’t let up 42 points in a game like that, especially with the offense playing the way it is, but as C.J. [Stroud] said, the plan was to go out there and let it all out, and we definitely did that. You can’t say we didn’t play hard. There’s definitely some plays we definitely could have went back, could have executed better on, could have made tackles and been in a better position.But we played hard, and I’m proud of my guys, and I love my guys for doing that.”
+ “I saw C.J. Stroud out there, and my heart goes out to those guys because they played well enough to win the game, and they got a really good football team, so do we.”
+ On whether he has ever played in a game like this before, “that game was — that was a good game. I’m looking at these stats right here, and they’re pretty much dead even across the board. No, that was special.”