Presser Bullets: Ryan Day and Ohio State Players Look Ahead to Saturday's Rivalry Game at Michigan

By Dan Hope and Colin Hass-Hill on November 26, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Rivalry week is in full swing at Ohio State.

While the Buckeyes are coming off their most competitive win of the season to date against Penn State, all eyes are forward toward Saturday's game against Michigan, in which Ohio State will look to complete a 12-0 regular season and win its eighth straight game against its rivals from the north.

In Ohio State's only press conference of rivalry week, Buckeyes coach Ryan Day met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to talk some about the win over the Nittany Lions but primarily, look ahead to this weekend's game in Ann Arbor.

Updates from Day's press conference, as well as from Ohio State players Tuf Borland, Chris Olave, Wyatt Davis, Jordan Fuller and Pete Werner, can be found below.

Ryan Day:

  • On Michigan's defense: "They've gone to a lot more zone, but they mix it up. (Defensive coordinator Don) Brown does a great job of that."
  • On Justin Fields, who appeared to suffer an injury late in the fourth quarter of the Penn State game: "We expect him to be fine."
  • On Fields' running against Penn State: "Other than the two turnovers, I thought he was unbelievable."
  • Day said Tuesday and Wednesday are pretty similar to a normal week this week. They have a family dinner on Wednesday night, practice and do Senior Tackle on Thursday morning and then let players go to Thanksgiving dinners with their families before coming back to practice on Friday. 
  • Day said Red Sox-Yankees and Celtics-Lakers were the rivalries he grew up on in New England. He said he remembers his family crying when the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs in the World Series and going to watch Larry Bird at the Boston Garden.
  • Day said Don Brown coached against him when he played and coached his brother, and then they coached together at Boston College, so he has "nothing but respect for him."
  • Day said he remembers being in a hotel room and watching Curtis Samuel's touchdown against Michigan in 2016, the year before he joined Ohio State's coaching staff.
  • "The game itself, it just goes back to the fundamentals."
  • Day said the Buckeyes will pipe in crowd noise during Tuesday's practice to prepare for playing on the road this weekend.
  • Asked about whether it's more important to beat Michigan or make the College Football Playoff, Day said he hasn't given that much thought but said, "This game means everything to us. Nothing matters if we don't win this game."
  • Day said Michigan "will be the most talented group we've seen thus far."
  • "I think at the end of the day it's going to come down to execution and guys winning their one-on-one battles."
  • Day said the Buckeyes take a lot of pride in recruiting against Michigan and trying to win those battles. Day said the Buckeyes have Michigan's recruiting board on the wall at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Does Ohio State ever make decisions based on who's on Michigan's recruiting board? "It influences us, sure."
  • Day said he thinks the Buckeyes have seen about the same amount of zone coverage this year as they did last year.
  • On his play-calling and decision-making: "We're aggressive, we always will be aggressive and we're going to be aggressive."
  • Day said because the Buckeyes emphasize the rivalry 365 days a year, there's no need for a big pump-up speech this week.
  • "There's no secret that part of your evaluation as a head coach at Ohio State is how you do in this game."
  • Day said he expects Greg Mattison and Al Washington to be "really professional" in going back to coaching at Michigan this week.
  • Day said he learned quickly about how anything can happen in the rivalry game in 2017 when a cameraman ran into J.T. Barrett before the game even started and injured his knee, which ultimately led to the Buckeyes having to play Dwayne Haskins in that game before he had ever started a game for Ohio State. Day said he thought that game was Haskins' "moment" that really launched his Ohio State career.
  • Day said all of his focus right now is on getting the team as ready as possible for the game, but as Saturday comes closer, the competitive juices will start to flow and the excitement will ramp up.
  • On what Chris Olave showed in last year's Ohio State-Michigan game: "I think you learned what followed after that, which is that he's a great player."
  • On Michigan's defensive coordinator: "Nobody gives you more looks than Don Brown."
  • "To see what this means to the people of Ohio and the Buckeye Nation, that's where it really hits home to me." Day said he realizes he has an "unbelievable responsibility" as Ohio State's head coach because of how much Ohio State football means to so many people.
  • Day's biggest rivalry game as a player at UNH was against Maine. They played for "the Musket" in their rivalry game.
  • On last week's turnovers: "Completely inexcusable, and that's how you ruin a whole season right there." Day said the fumbles were why Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins did not grade out as champions.
  • Day said Michigan has caught a rhythm since the second half of the Penn State game. He thinks the Wolverines' offense has found its identity and they have really talented wide receivers.
  • On following up what Chris Olave did against Michigan last year: "Who's going to be the guy that steps up and becomes a legend in Ohio State football history?"
  • Day said it is good to know the Buckeyes can still play Jonathon Cooper in another game and redshirt him for next year. "Certainly he's going to play in another game this year, we just don't know exactly which one yet."
  • On Urban Meyer's legacy against Michigan: "To think that he's 7-0 is completely overwhelming sometimes."

Tuf Borland:

  • He says the weather, which might be rainy or snowy, benefits the defense: "I'm not really worried about the weather." 
  • On Michigan's offense: "We have our work cut out for us."
  • Borland says everything about Michigan preparation has been the same since he's been at Ohio State. "We train for it all year long." In the spring, there's a period set aside for the Wolverines.
  • He says everything gets "ramped up" this week."
  • On when he realized the importance of the rivalry: "Obviously it's ingrained from you the moment you walk on campus." Once a player plays his first game, he learns what it actually means to people in Ohio. "Coming in here, you have no idea what this means.
  • "Big bodies, multiple tight end packages." He says they have the ability to run right at you and have playmakers on the perimeter. 
  • On Michigan attacking the middle of the field: "I think our defense kind of helps eliminate some of that. We'll see what happens."
  • He says the 2016 game against Michigan is his favorite moment from the rivalry.
  • Borland says he no longer thinks about last year. "It's in the past for a reason." 
  • He says there are "extremely high levels" of both confidence and trust among those on the defense.
  • "I think controlling your emotions is important throughout the whole week."
  • Borland says it's "no secret" that it'll be a tough game. 
  • On Chase Young: "Chase is a great player. That's no secret. He's going to make plays."
  • On Greg Mattison and Al Washington: "Those guys are great." He says their energy and mentality is "contagious."

Jordan Fuller:

  • He says Sevyn Banks has always been a physically gifted cornerback, and now he's picking up the mental aspects of the game.
  • On Michigan: "We definitely have our hands full."
  • On Michigan's receiver: "Really, they can do it all." He says extra film study and ensuring everybody's on the same page is important. 
  • Fuller on making a tackle while being the last man between a ball carrier and the end zone: "It's definitely something I take pride in." He says he's done a nice job this year in that role: "That's why I have the name safety."
  • On whether Michigan is similar to last year: "They are a bit different just in terms of certain things they like to do." He says they try to get the ball in their playmakers' hands a bit differently than last season.
  • On this defense compared to last year: "There definitely is more of a sense of confidence just because we've played well up until this point."
  • Fuller says Shea Patterson has a "strong, strong arm" the the ability to move the ball with his feet. He says he agrees that Patterson is playing at a high level right now.

Pete Werner: 

  • Werner says he doesn't think it takes long for someone like Ryan Day to fully understand the rivalry. "Personally, I didn't know much about the rivalry either, being a kid from Indiana."
  • "We know when this week comes up, we walk a little bit differently, we act a little bit differently and we know what's ahead of us."
  • He says Ohio State beat Michigan with preparation in the past, and that's the plan again.
  • Werner says he thinks the most physical team will win the game. 
  • He says when he was a recruit, Curtis Samuel scoring "kind of brought me here." He says everybody has a role in winning this game. 
  • On whether this game means more for Al Washington and Greg Mattison: "I can already tell. This is the game that they've had checked on their calendar from the time they've been here. They have something to prove."
  • Werner says Washington and Mattison have been great communicating during games. "In years past, we didn't really have that communication."
  • He says Michigan doesn't have one standout part of its offense. However... "They do well at what they do."
  • On Shea Patterson: "He throws a great ball."
  • Werner says the atmosphere at the game when Curtis Samuel scored helped bring him to Ohio State.
  • Was his game against Penn State his best performance as a Buckeye? "I think it was up there, yeah. I had a big challenge going into the game, and I felt like I executed pretty well."
  • He says Mattison and Washington take Ohio State-Michigan seriously: "If I was a coach, I would take it very seriously too." 
  • Werner calls his pass breakup against Michigan last year "pretty cool."
  • On the 2016 Ohio State-Michigan spot: "The position I was in, they did get it right."

Wyatt Davis:

  • He says Greg Studrawa always tells the offensive linemen "why not you?" when offensive player of the game awards are given.
  • Davis says Michigan's defense will be "another great challenge for us." He says it'll all come down to the preparation before the season.
  • He says he never understood the rivalry until he entered was about to enter the facility wearing a blue tank top. A hostess told him to put a jacket on. Urban Meyer got word of it, made him unzip it and told him to never wear that color again.
  • "I just didn't know how big it was obviously until I got here."
  • Davis says Justin Fields' ability to bounce up and keep going says something about his toughness and character. "He'll sit there and he'll even take some shots and complete a pass."
  • On how much blue clothing he still has: "I burned it all."
  • He says he got "a little taste" of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry last year. "Even the short time I was out there, I could feel it."
  • "Up front, across the board, I feel like we're athletic across the board." 
  • Davis says every team they've played this year has done something different against the Buckeyes. 
  • On the cold, potentially snowy weather: "It's definitely going to be a different challenge."
  • Davis says Michigan will likely bring something Ohio State hasn't seen on film yet. Last year, the Wolverines' defensive front allowed them to do some different things.

Chris Olave:

  • On playing at Michigan: "I haven't really asked about it. I'm looking forward to playing there."
  • On his two-touchdown, one-punt block performance last year: "I believe it changed my career, having that game."
  • He says he didn't quite realize  the gravity of what he did until after last season's game.
  • Olave says going up for a jump ball is probably his favorite part of being a receiver: "It's either you or him that gets the ball, and I'm not really a big target."
  • On when he realized the importance of Ohio State-Michigan: "First day I stepped on campus. I didn't really know how much the rivalry was when I got here." He says seeing all the clocks counting down showed him.
  • "That why I came to Ohio State, to play in these types of games." He wants to play a big part in big games, which is what he did last year.
  • Olave thinks that Justin Fields' ability to get the ball downfield has improved as the year has progressed.
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