COLUMBUS – Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, quarterback Justin Fields, and a number of other players met with the media virtually following the Buckeyes’ 52-24 loss to Alabama in the National Championship game Monday night.
+ “Tough night. But I’m proud of this team, proud of the seniors, and the year that we’ve had, but that was a tough night.” It was a lot to unravel there.
+ He is proud of the legacy that the seniors left behind.
+ Alabama played really well tonight.
+ “This season has been crazy, disruptive, all of the above.” They tried not to build in excuses, but just push forward.
+ They needed to play their best game against Alabama and they didn’t.
+ On where they go from here, they need a break and they need to get away. “The kids need to see their families and we all just need a break.” This has been a long, long road. They need time to “rest and reflect.”
+ Alabama is good schematically and they have really good personnel. “It’s one thing to have a play, it’s another to execute it.” His team didn’t do that on either side of the ball in this game.
+ On the second half, Day said it was several things. They didn’t convert, finish drives, and Alabama continued to make big plays.
+ On Justin Fields, “Justin has been unbelievable.” He was not 100 percent tonight, he was working through it, made some gutsy throws and kept them in the game for a while. He’s going to miss him.
+ On the defense, they had to change it up because Alabama was just going to pick them apart. There were too many big plays and then on offense they couldn’t go score for score with them. But they competed and played all the way to the end. “They are a special group of men.” But they tried to change things up and still do what got them to this point, but it wasn’t good enough.
+ On DeVonta Smith, he plays stronger than he looks. “His play strength is significant and he eats up ground on the field.” He is a great player and deserved the Heisman Trophy.
+ It’s tough having the pressure of having to score every drive.
+ The margin for error was tiny.
+ The execution was an issue.
+ “Clearly we didn’t hold up well enough in the passing game.”
+ On kicking the field goal, Day said if it was closer he would go for it but the percentages past 4th-and-4 are very low. “Let’s take the three points and move on.”
+ They learned a lot about themselves and the culture of the program this year.
+ The guys coming back have something to motivate them in the off-season.
+ Wyatt Davis re-injured that knee. He is sore and in pain.
+ It was hard to get into a rhythm.
+ He could have been healthier but he was healthy enough to be out there.
+ On his two years at Ohio State, Fields said he has a lot of brothers. He wanted a different outcome, but he will miss everybody.
+ On losing Trey Sermon, Fields said they have a mentality of compete excellence and when one man goes down the next has to step up. “With or without him we still gotta execute.”
+ On how to coach the younger players moving forward, Fields said he is going to tell the team that they have years left and to never let it happen to them again. “Remember this feeling.”
+ On Alabama getting the ball out in space, Wade said DeVonta Smith made plays. They had a great scheme and he is a great player. “They just came out and outplayed us today.”
+ On his decision to come back, Wade said it was still worth it. He grew as a man. He is happy he came back and glad they got here. They accomplished some big things as a team. He is proud of everybody.
+ He wants the team to be remembered for how much they fought. They stayed focused and fought every day.
+ He really can’t say what he is going to do in the future. He does want to come back because he does want to win a National Championship. But he is going to talk to his parents.
+ They didn’t tackle as well as they needed to.
+ He feels sorry he couldn’t do more.
+ On how the team will respond, “I think they will respond the same way they did to the Clemson game last year.”
[Photo courtesy of Ohio State Football Twitter.]