COLUMBUS — A handful of Ohio State players met with the media on Monday to preview Minnesota.
Here is a summary of what was said.
LB Teradja Mitchell
+ On the feeling of starting on Thursday, Mitchell said he isn’t nervous just anxious. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
+ Al Washington has a good plan. Everybody has confidence in everybody in the linebacker room. Whoever Washington puts out on the field is “going to ball.”
+ “We have something to prove. There’s a big question mark around our group to the public so we have something to prove.”
+ Minnesota will be a challenge for their defense, especially the running back. “Definitely can’t have any arm tackles, gotta wrap him up.” The offense looks like an older group.
+ This is his first start. “With the preparation I’ve put in, I’m ready and I’m confident in my abilities.”
+ Being a captain is an honor. “It just shows the hard work I’ve put in.” He is very thankful for his teammates. With everything that he has going on personally, “It’s just all a blessing.”
+ Coach Day recruits the players that have the ability to lead a team. They have a team of “Alpha Dogs.”
OT Nicholas Petit-Frere
+ C.J. Stroud is a great leader. “We’re excited to have him as our quarterback.”
+ On moving around the offensive line, Petit-Frere said he will likely play at left tackle on Thursday but he is prepared to play any position. He feels confident and comfortable at left tackle.
+ Dawand Jones has grown into the position. “He’s been a really big juice guy for us.”
+ On picking five players and building chemistry, Petit-Frere said they are focused on that but they need to have a whole unit ready to play. All of the players on the offensive line prepare like they are a starter.
+ He stopped feeling like a right tackle the day they switched him to left tackle but it took a while to get adjusted and more comfortable to different timings. “I just want to play and help this team win in any way I can.” He improved by getting a lot of reps throughout camp.
+ “Thayer Munford is a staple of Ohio State football right now.”
+ On the versatility of the running backs that they’re blocking for, Petit-Frere said “it’s amazing.” The talent is there. “It’s exciting to have a room like that and have those people behind us running the ball.”
+ On Minnesota’s defense, “they are a talented group with a lot of returning starters.” They know the defense that they run.
+ On Munford shifting to left guard, “Thayer Munford is one of the best offensive lineman in the nation.” Petit-Frere said he was at tackle and now he will be at guard.
+ This camp was challenging because they didn’t have spring ball or fall camp last year. It was also a new atmosphere with new people. “But we all just competed so hard.”
+ COVID-19 is still on their minds. They still have to make sacrifices and follow the protocols that are given to them.
DE Zach Harrison
+ On Minnesota’s offensive line, “they’re big, that’s the first thing I notice.” Harrison thinks it will be a good matchup because they are an experienced defensive line. Playing against Dawand Jones in practice has helped him visualize the size matchups.
+ On this being his breakout year, Harrison said he is going to go out there and try to make the plays that come to him and do his assignments.
+ Antwuan Jackson has made big steps in camp. Harrison said he looks up to him.
+ On facing a conference opponent, Harrison said Day emphasized that “they can’t slip up, there’s no warm up games.” But they just try to go 1-0 and win every game.
TE Jeremy Ruckert
+ C.J. Stroud was “built for the moment.” The offense isn’t looking for anything special out of him, they just want him to go out there and be himself.
+ He’s never been to Minnesota before so he is excited to go play there. “We’re just excited for the opportunity.”
+ Minnesota is good with their fundamentals and technique.
+ On being the poster child for tight ends at Ohio State, Ruckert said people thought he made a mistake when he committed to Ohio State but he came here and bought into the program and worked hard. “I wouldn’t change it.”
+ On Stroud’s passes being “catchable,” Ruckert said it’s hard to explain it but he throws a very catchable ball and he throws a good deep ball.
+ The offense feels ready. “I think you’re going to see a balanced offense with a lot of people who can make plays.”
+ He feels pretty safe next to Dawand Jones.
+ On his blocking ability, Ruckert said he feels like he is doing a good job. He has cleared his mind by understanding the offense so he can play faster and build momentum. “I’m playing free and fast.”
+ The unexpected losses the past few seasons are still brought up. He was there for the Purdue game and doesn’t ever want to feel that way again.