COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud, and a handful of other Buckeye players met with the media immediately following the Buckeyes’ 56-7 win against Michigan State on Saturday.
Here are the highlights of what was said.
+ On the offense, “You can see our capability when we’re playing really good football and clean football. We have a high ceiling.”
+ Stroud’s preparation has allowed him to be in these situations. “He only played one half of football and threw for six touchdowns. The level he’s playing at is very high and that needs to be taken into consideration.” He has been really steady through the ups and downs and being able to handle that is important.
+ The offense stayed on schedule and finished drives. “When we get a new set of downs, we’re dangerous.”
+ He hasn’t taken a step back to just look at how impressive this team is. The game wasn’t even over yet and he already started thinking about next week. Everything is on the line next week. “We knew it was going to be like this.”
+ On Stroud holding defenders and making plays, Day said his anticipation is off the charts. He sees things really well.
+ Chris Olave is a weapon down field. His runs after the catch has been good and his speed is 0 to 100. Garrett Wilson’s catch radius is extraordinary. Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s spatial awareness is strong and he’s a great route runner. Day was impressed with Julian Fleming too today. It was great to see him start to contribute because he’s been in and out of injuries.
+ On the defense containing Kenneth Walker III, Day said there was a lot of pressure. The defense took it as a challenge to stop the run and they wanted to make Michigan State play one-dimensional offense and they did that.
+ Day thought it was important to get players rest in the second half. They had to talk to some players who were upset about not getting into the game in the second half. But it was important to get the rest while they could.
+ Emeka Egbuka’s injury is not long term.
+ On playing to perfection and doing whatever he wanted out there, Stroud said they had a great week of practice and preparation. “Everything that we thought we would get, we got.” He thought they would get different coverages and pressures and that’s what he saw before things happened.
+ On how to improve from that performance, Stroud said he can always make things more crisp and and improve communication. They are never satisfied.
+ On helping Kyle McCord after he threw the interception, Stroud went up to him and reminded him to trust himself. He told him to let it go, everybody makes mistakes, it was a tough lo0k that he got. It was a great learning opportunity for him.
+ On the deep ball touchdown to Garrett Wilson, Stroud said he saw the look pre-snap and knew it was there. When he held the safety, he knew it was there.
+ On the three different receivers, Stroud said Chris Olave brings leadership and has tremendous speed, he always beats his man, and he’s great with yards after the catch. Garrett Wilson is a freak athlete and a great blocker. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the best route runner he’s ever played with in his life. “He jukes people out of his socks on the regular.”
+ On the receivers being so wide open, Stroud credits the offensive line for holding the pass rush. “I was just back there chilling in a sense.”
+ The defensive line wanted to have a different mindset this week and they wanted to shut Kenneth Walker III down. They didn’t want to let him do what he did against other teams against them.
+ He felt chemistry with the offense and defense because the offense was scoring and the defense was forcing three-and-outs. The energy builds when they are both performing at a high level. It’s a snowball effect.
+ They thrive off of big plays on defense, they want them to keep happening and then that gives the offense a better position. “It’s working for us.”
+ On Michigan next week, Garrett said this is what The Game is about. It’s always big stakes and a big rivalry.
+ They had a great week of practice, the players sacrificed a lot, and they knew how good this running back was. Garrett wanted to set the tone early and let the ball roll and let it reach everyone else on the team.
+ Senior day was emotional during the week but the first priority was to win the game. He soaked it all in and it was a special moment for him.
+ Experience is what has allowed this defense to improve. Early in the season everyone was a new face but now they have games under their belt and they have improved every week.
+ It’s fun being out there when everybody is in their “mode.”
+ On the legacy of Chris Olave, Smith-Njigba said he appreciates him. The young players want to follow in his path. He set the bar really high.
+ Everyone on the field is dangerous. “We knew it, we just had to go show it.”
+ They don’t discuss who is the best receiver on the team. They all just try to get better every day. They are all dangerous with the ball in their hands.
+ When they spread the ball around and the passing game is clicking, it’s huge. He is proud of C.J. Stroud’s growth.
+ He got the ball from the touchdown catch that broke David Boston’s career touchdown reception record. He forgot to keep it but someone went and got it and gave it to him after the game.
+ The receivers all feel like when they get a one-on-one they have to get it. They know Stroud will put the ball where they need it to be.
+ On making his mark, Olave said it’s a huge blessing. When he first came in, he was the lowest rated recruit in his class, he didn’t know it would come to this. He just kept his head down and kept working and tried to make the most of it.
+ On this being the last day in The Shoe, Olave said he never thought this day would come, it went by so fast. It was an emotional day for him from the time he woke up. He is glad his family was here.
+ On how to teach the younger players about the Rivalry, Olave said they know what it’s going to be like. It’s 365 days at the facility. “Our hatred for them starts in the offseason and even thought it’s the first game they are playing in, they know how big of a moment it is.”
Photo courtesy of Ohio State Football