ATLANTA— Ohio State head coach Ryan Day as well as a handful of players on offense and defense, and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with the media to preview the Peach Bowl matchup against No. 1 Georgia.
Below are some notes and quotes from the press conferences.
Head Coach Ryan Day
+ “The whole month has been a really good month for us. As a team, really have gotten a lot of good work done.”
+ They approached this by breaking up the schedule into fundamentals, a game plan, and then game week, which is what they are in now that they are in Atlanta.
+ “There was just an energy as we headed off down here to Atlanta.”
+ “There’s a level of urgency that we know we have to play our best football here in this game, so we’re going to continue to prepare as hard as we possibly can, on the field, off the field, and make sure we have a great week here in Atlanta.”
+ Because they have played in the CFP three out of the last four years they have good examples to draw upon as to what is going to transpire in this game. There is a lot of excitement but “every yard is a fight. Every first down, every point is going to be that way.”
+ Georgia has a lot of great weapons. “We know what we’re up against.”
+ Ohio State is familiar with a lot of players at Georgia and their families from recruiting. But that’s similar to a lot of the teams they play.
+ “They have a lot of really good players on both sides of the ball in all three phases with Georgia, and Kirby’s done a good job of recruiting.”
+ “We’re going to try to do the best we can to make the hotel here our Woody Hayes Athletic Center and make Mercedes-Benz our Woody Hayes Practice Facility, and I think that’s part of the process of being at the bowl site. So try to keep things as normal as possible.”
+ They have to prepare for Georgia’s depth on both offense and defense because they rotate players in the front, in the back end, and have multiple running backs and receivers.
+ On using tempo, “I think it’s one of those things where nowadays, if you’re just no huddle going really, really fast every single game all the time and that’s all you do, teams can get immune to it. But I think, if you have the ability to switch it up from game to game or from series to series or play to play, then it’s a little bit more of a weapon.”
+ On facing a team that’s good at running the ball and learning from what happened against Michigan, Day said they took a hard look at what happened the last game and put a good game plan together.
OC Kevin Wilson
+ On Georgia’s two tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington, Wilson said they connect their offense together and will be huge on Saturday.
+ “It’s going to be a fist fight with every play. We got our hands full. Just a lot of respect for their structure, the culture, the way they play and most importantly, you feel their defense. We’re going to have to do our best to make sure they feel us as we play this game because it’s not going to be a reactionary game. It’s going to be an attack game both ways, two guys going at each other. A lot of respect for those guys.”
+ Their best football is ahead of them. They are always chasing perfection, a complete game. But the game’s not a game of perfect and playing their best is the ability to overcome and keep swinging.
+ Like a lot of good teams, Georgia plays with two or three running backs. Ohio State has had to evolve a bit due to injuries but going into this game ‘we are at full force.’ They are going to have to take care of the ball and get tough, ugly yards to keep them on schedule.
+ On managing his responsibilities with a head coaching job next season, “probably 70 percent of the time is spent on this bowl game and the extra time has been late at night, last night about 9:30. We started this morning at 7:00 and got rolling. About 9:30 last night, I actually got to a couple things revolving about next year’s job.”
QB C.J. Stroud
+ “It’s been a blessing to be down here playing for a national championship. It’s been a goal of mine since I got to school.”
+ On the indoor environment and the ability to throw the ball, “it’s definitely a good feeling knowing that you don’t have to deal with weather coming from Columbus or the Big Ten.” But Stroud emphasized that they will do whatever it takes to win the game, whether that’s throwing the ball or running it.
+ He has a lot of respect for Georgia because of his recruitment. He said they were second in his recruitment, but he feels that he made the right decision coming to Ohio State. “I’m glad where I went, and I’ll ride with that till I die.”
+ Nothing has changed with Coach Wilson during preparation for the Peach Bowl.
+ “We got to play Buckeye football.”
+ “I do feel like they are counting us out. That’s fine. We’ve been counted out plenty of times.”
WR Emeka Egbuka
+ “Just happy to be down here spending time with my brothers and getting the team camaraderie going. Kind of not forgetting what an accomplishment it is to be here. Obviously we’re very focused and tuned in on this game. We’re locked in for a good practice today and putting it all on the field on Saturday.”
+ With the talent they have on offense, Egbuka thinks they can play any team in the nation and can take advantage of Georgia’s pass defense. They are going to look to exploit that and make big plays whenever they can.
+ They expect a hard-fought, fourth quarter game. “It’s going to take everything as a team.”
DC Jim Knowles
+ On preparation for this game, “consistency is important. It’s a critical thing to the establishment of a defense that everyone can count on, where the players can be fast. So it’s a process that you do try to keep consistent no matter what the magnitude of the game. We’ve had more time, which is a good thing. So we’re able to sprinkle in some upgrades, some different things, work on the game plan longer.”
+ They have to be prepared for the two tight end sets but they know they aren’t going to get that all the time. Washington and Bowers are dangerous no matter where they line up.
+ On learning from the game against Michigan, Knowles said it came down to the explosive plays. There isn’t a systematic issue, but there were too many explosives and they looked at those on an individual basis.
+ Georgia is a complete offense, it’s developed like an NFL offense, and they have a bunch of tools at their disposal. They play really hard with great effort, and that makes a difference.
LB Steele Chambers
+ It’s been nice being so close to home, about 25 minutes away. He will have a lot of family members out at the game who usually can’t come to other games.
+ “Stetson Bennett is a great player. He’s got this weird little dead leg thing he does, that’s annoying, whenever he is out in open space. But he’s a great player, and I think it’s going to take 11 guys to really stop him and stop that entire offense.”
+ Georgia baits the defense with a lot of play action plays. They will have to follow their eyes, know their keys and know where to be in what kind of situations. They will have to be disciplined to control the running and the play action.
+ “It’s been a month since we’ve played. But you can tell even in practice everyone’s got a chip on their shoulder.”
DL J.T. Tuimoloau
+ “Stetson Bennett is a great player, a great quarterback. I think we have to do our job and trust in each other. He has shown times he can be very elusive, and I think we have to stick to the game plan and trust one another and do our job.”