Presser Bullets: Ryan Day, Justin Fields, Chris Olave and Ohio State’s Offense Discuss Facing Alabama’s Defense

By Zack Carpenter on January 7, 2021 at 5:46 pm

Justin Fields says he's healthy and ready to go.

If nothing else from Ohio State's media session on Thursday grabs your attention, that will take the cake.

Just four days before the Buckeyes hit Hard Rock Stadium for their national championship game showdown against Alabama, Ryan Day, Kevin Wilson, Justin Fields, Chris Olave, Trey Sermon, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis and Luke Farrell took to the podium to share their thoughts on the Crimson Tide's defense.

A bullet-point rundown of what they said:

Ryan Day

  • As part of an opening statement, Day says he has "nothing but respect" for Nick Saban and Alabama, which he called "an unbelievable program with a great history."
  • Day: “When the season got canceled, we talked about the opportunity to get back to play in this very game, and here we are.”
  • Day confirmed that the national title game is still on track to be played on Monday.
  • On losing players for games due to COVID-19: "Any time you deal with that and lose people, it's a gut punch. But it's not something we're not used to." He says that despite missing key starters and key players, the Buckeyes have done a good job of pushing through it. He said there have been some "new challenges this week" and that they have to "figure it out and go play."
  • On the health of Justin Fields: "No real update. We don't really give out injury updates. We'll do what we think is best in the game based on our opponent, based on our personnel and where we're at in the game. ... That's what we've done for every game, and we'll continue to do that this week."
  • Day says "the minute you wanna take a deep breath and feel the reward of what we've done, something else always comes up." He says the Buckeyes are at "the finish line" on Monday and they need to finish if off: "When the season's over, we'll go back and look at the great things that have happened because there's been a lot."
  • Day says he believes the most difficult part of the season for the players was them not being able to go home for the holidays to see their families and the constant change they've dealt with.
  • When asked what it would mean to beat someone who's as highly regarded of a coach as Nick Saban, Day said he doesn't take time to think about that type of thing.
  • When asked for a specific number of how many players Ohio State will have available, Day said he didn't know the number and "would have to check" but said "we'll have plenty of players."
  • Day: "These guys didn't come back just to play in this game, they came back to win it." He says the players "have their eyes on the prize" and that the emotional win over Clemson won't distract them from the matchup with Alabama.
  • When Trey Sermon was looking to transfer from Oklahoma, Day says that he spoke with Lincoln Riley who had "nothing but good things to say about Trey." Day admitted, however, that he didn't see this type of record-breaking output coming from Sermon.
  • On Fields' health, Day says that "Justin isn't treated any different from anybody." He says the medical staff evaluated Fields' injury and said that he was ready to go back in the game against Clemson.
  • Day says Fields coming back from a knee injury in last season's Michigan game to throw a touchdown on his first play back was a "whoa" moment, and for him to throw four touchdowns after coming back from his injury against Clemson was on the same type of level.
  • On Fields' toughness: “To see him come back after that hit and throw four touchdown passes ... unbelievable.”

Kevin Wilson

  • Wilson calls Fields "a really good athlete" who can extend plays, and he's "very, very accurate with the deep ball." He says Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis have been working with him on cleaning up accuracy on the intermediate throws.
  • Wilson: "He can make all the throws, and with that being said I think he's just scratching the surface."
  • Wilson believes that he and Ryan Day's knowledge of the game play off each other very well. He said Day works best with skill-position players but understands offensive line play and that Wilson works best with offensive line play but understands skill-position players. He believes that's a great balance for Ohio State's offense.
  • On Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II: "He's such a great cover guy that you pretty much put an X on that guy. ... He doesn't really need a lot of safety help or bracket help or inside help. He can guard guys on-on-one." Said Ohio State recruited him very hard and were disappointed that they couldn't sign hm
  • Wilson said Day was able to get Fields to settle in during the Clemson game and that the running game was able to perfectly complement the passing game.
  • Wilson believes Alabama's defense has looked a lot better since giving up 48 points to Ole Miss in October: "I think Alabama's been able to get better because they've been able to play more. ... It's a great defense with talent, length. They're gonna make it very challenging."

Justin Fields

  • Fields says that the memory of playing against Alabama as a freshman at Georgia in the SEC Championship Game was a bit surreal and he remembers going "wow" to be playing in a game of that magnitude.
  • Fields says "the connection me and Coach Day had since day one was genuine." He said he trusted Day's ability to develop him and the first touchdown he scored against Florida Atlantic is when he knew joining Day and being a quarterback at Ohio State was going to work out.
  • Fields admits he may have altered his footwork or throwing motion coming off the rib injury against Clemson because of the pain.
  • On his relationship with Sermon, a fellow Georgian: "It's definitely crazy just seeing the position we're in right now. I've known Trey for a long time. He's always been a hard worker. I think we'll talk about this a few years from now, but right now we're just living in the moment. After every big game, I usually go up to him and tell him, 'I told you you should've come here.'"
  • After being one of the leaders who was speaking out to try and get a season played, Fields said that makes the opportunity to play in the national title game "more meaningful" because "this is where we wanted to be."
  • Ohio State's success with quarterbacks and the success he believed he could have being coached under Day are two of the biggest reasons Fields chose to transfer to the Buckeyes.
  • Fields believes that some of the things he said after the game were "taken out of context." He says he fully trusts Dr. Jim Borchers and Ohio State's medical staff: "Those guys handled it the way I would've wanted them to handle it. ... I don't want anything I said in the postgame interview to be taken out of context. ... They did a full analysis of my injury, and they did what they thought was best. I was fully comfortable with that, and I'll be good come Monday night."
  • Fields says he woke up the day after the game "feeling better than expected" but that two or three days after the game his ribs were more sore than he anticipated they would be.
  • Fields: "I felt comfortable that I could protect myself when I was out there."

Chris Olave

  • Olave said he was “real tired” when he first returned to practice after testing positive for COVID-19. Said he really didn't get his legs back until last Wednesday before Friday's game against Clemson.
  • He said it was "very tough" to be quarantined for 10 days in a hotel without being able to do much in terms of workouts. He was only able to work out with bands and do bodyweight workouts.
  • Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith is on the opposing offense, but Olave says he doesn't put too much thought into going up against a player of Smith's reputation: "I just wanna win."
  • Olave says no one expected the season to be this topsy-turvy due to COVID-19, but he says that the Buckeyes "had to control what we can control."
  • On going against Patrick Surtain II: "He's a great player. Long, fast, physical. Can't really ask for much more in a DB. I went against (Jeff) Okudah last year, and he's damn near equal to him."
  • Olave says that Fields "is kind of a shy guy at first, but once he gets comfortable, he's comfortable." He said that he's "definitely happy for him, and I'm always gonna have his back."
  • Olave said that when he was being recruited, the reason he came to Ohio State was to get the chance to play in games like Monday's against Alabama.

Trey Sermon

  • Playing in the 2017 game against Ohio State as a member of the Oklahoma Sooners, Sermon said it was the first big college game he had the opportunity to play in and he said he remembers it "vividly."
  • As he has been saying since his record-breaking performance against Northwestern, Sermon again credited the offensive line "for making my job easier" and "moving bodies" to open up big running lanes.
  • Sermon says and Fields work on check-down passes a lot during practice and that during the game "it just happens" and "it works out well."
  • Despite the fact that Sermon has had two big back-to-back performance, he says he doesn't feel any extra pressure to go out and have another huge game: "I just have to go out and play to the best of my ability, and I'll be fine."
  • On taking a shot to the ribs like Fields did against Clemson: "It can be very painful. ... He's a tough dude so I know he'll be fine, but, damn, it's not something you wanna have happen because it hurts."
  • Miyan Williams came into the program "a little lost" when camp first started, Sermon says, but he believes Williams has improved a lot throughout his freshman season and to see him play with the energy he does is one of the main aspects of Williams that stands out.

Josh Myers

  • Myers: "I've always believed in my heart that games are won or lost at the line of scrimmage." He says that Ohio State's offensive line hasn't gotten the chance to get into a rhythm or build chemistry because of players having to sit out due to COVID-19.
  • Myers believes Matthew Jones has "done a great job" filling in as the team's starting left guard. He credits the whole team for doing "what they have to do" to help Ohio State continue to win.
  • When Jones went down with an injury, Paris Johnson Jr. had to fill in at left guard. That versatility impresses Myers: "Paris is an extremely talented offensive lineman. ... God has given him a lot, and he also has the mindset. I don't know if I should say this or not because it's so early on in Paris' career. But if Paris isn't an Outland Trophy winner, he screwed something up. ... He's that talented."
  • On Trey Sermon: "He really never complains. ... I can't say enough about how happy I am for him."
  • Myers doesn't think Munford or Nicholas Petit-Frere get talked about enough for how well they have played this season: "It's a weird thing when tackles get overlooked on the offensive line, but it's happened this year. Those guys are so important. ... I don't think they get enough recognition for what they do."
  • Myers says Alabama's defensive line "is really talented across the board" with strong, athletic, disciplined linemen with "outstanding technique."
  • When asked if this would be Myers' last game as a Buckeye, he said, "You guys will find out that answer on the 12th."
  • Myers believes Miyan Williams is going to have a great career at Ohio State with his toughness and how hard he runs: "That's the type of running back I'd like to think I would be if I was a running back."

Wyatt Davis

  • Davis echoed Olave's sentiment that a huge reason for his decision to pick Ohio State was for the opportunity to play for a national championship. That's why so many players out west go to programs like Ohio State's, he says.
  • On getting to play in the national championship game: “Words can't really describe how I feel personally to get this opportunity.” Said his teammates messed with him after the Clemson game about how he almost missed out on this by opting out.
  • Davis calls Thayer Munford "a brother." The two were roommates when they lived in the dorms together and has nothing but respect for Munford bouncing back from a back injury: "What I respect the most about him is his determination and grit. ... All the obstacles he went through in life, he never quit."
  • Davis says he "feels more nervous to make mistakes in practice than I do in games" because of the expectations Greg Studrawa has. He says that Studrawa has the same expectations of excellence out of every player in practice, whether you're a starter or a walk-on.
  • On Studrawa: "He's a great leader, and he's so knowledgeable about the game." Said that he breaks opponents down very well and that "his film sessions are a big reason for a lot of the success we've had."
  • Davis believes the game will be won in the trenches: "Going into it, we know where the battle has to be won."
  • He said that there were "no doubts" that Fields was going to go back in the game if he was physically able to play. He called Fields "a student of the game" and often sees things that his teammates don't see: "This is a guy who watches film for hours and is the last guy to leave the Woody. ... His will to win is the most impressive thing about him."

Luke Farrell

  • On Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses: "I think they're really well-coached, and he does a great job. ... He's not afraid to stick his nose in and come hit you."
  • From past experiences winning Big Ten championships and playing in the playoffs, Farrell said, "you can't be afraid to die out there."
  • Farrell says that Ohio State throwing touchdowns to the tight ends wasn't necessarily planned but that it was "great" and exactly what a tight end wants.
  • On Fields' returning from his injury: "You just stand there in awe of the toughness and his ability to execute after taking a hit like that." He said it gets the rest of the team fired up to see the leader of the team do something like that.
  • Farrell praised the work ethic of Thayer Munford and said he's "never seen him complain" despite some of the injuries and adversity he's faced.
  • Farrell says he's been wanting this opportunity to play in a national championship game since he arrived at Ohio State, and now he's finally getting it, so he “couldn't be happier” this will be his last game as a Buckeye.
  • He said it would "mean everything" to be an Ohio native and win a national championship for the Buckeyes. He didn't grow up watching many sports, he admits, but the one sport he often watched was Ohio State football.
  • Farrell says beating Clemson was "a huge relief" and "a weight lifted off our shoulders."
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