Absences and all, Ohio State made it look easy.
The Buckeyes pulled off a 52-12 road win in East Lansing, dominating Michigan State 28-0 in the first half before pulling away in the latter 30 minutes. Afterward, acting head coach Larry Johnson, head coach Ryan Day and several Buckeyes – Justin Fields, Haskell Garrett and Trey Sermon – joined the media for a Zoom press conference.
A rundown of their comments (with video soon to come):
- Johnson says he thinks the leaders "continued doing what coach Day has done." Calls it a "great team effort" and touts the preparation by the coaching staff.
- On the Gatorade bath: "Pretty cold. I'm just glad it wasn't below freezing here. I'd probably be sick." He says the players set him up with Zach Harrison talking to him to take his attention.
- On Garrett's interception: "Pretty athletic to tip and catch your own pick." He says Garrett is a "great story" since he's "probably lucky he's still here," referring to his gunshot wound a few months ago.
- Johnson thought the coaching staff "did a great job" getting the players a chance to play.
- He says he didn't think about being Ohio State's first Black head coach for a game. Says he focused most on the players. "I did not want to go back Sunday and stand in front of that game after losing a game."
- Johnson says they thought it would be best for Kevin Wilson to call the game. "He's the offensive coordinator. He called the plays." Says he let Wilson "manage the game."
- He says Tyreke Smith is "getting a chance to play more snaps" and "he's going to make a play" when he gets on the field for 20-25 snaps.
- In the third quarter, he got a tear in his eye because he was happy for the players and he realized they had a chance to win. "It could be canceled again, but we weren't."
- On the defense: I think my kids came with a chip on their shoulder."
- "If you're going to be a head coach for one day, you want Justin Fields with you." Says he always saw Fields with a smile on his face.
- "I'd like to be quick because I think this is all about the leaders, all about the coaches who stepped up this week." Notes the contributions of Shaun Wade, Trey Sermon, Wyatt Davis and others.
- "I thought Drue Chrisman had two really big punts in the game that got down inside the 5-yard line."
- Day says he "couldn't be prouder" of this coaching staff. "So many people had to step up this week." Says it wasn't easy to watch but it was a great statement on the program.
- On getting players back: "I'm hoping we start getting some guys back. We have a big number there. I get going here on Monday and we get some of the coaches back." He says as long as Ohio State continues doing well COVID-19-wise, he's hoping "the worst part is behind us."
- He says Fields "knows what happened" in the Indiana game. "You could just see today the way he attacked the game." Says he thought Fields played "really gutsy" in a situation where the Buckeyes had to be "really careful" with the offensive line. "I thought he took a huge step today."
- "I took a lot of notes. I yelled a lot. I got really, really excited on some other plays. Certainly Haskell's play I was running around the house."
- Day says they met all week via Zoom leading up to the game. "Thank God for technology because that's how we did it."
- "I saw a team that had great energy, great toughness, enjoyed being out there." He says it was "awesome" to see some smiles in the fourth quarter.
- Day says he thought the offensive line "battled" even though they weren't perfect.
- He says it was good to see some of the younger guys step up, including Miyan Williams, Ronnie Hickman, Bryson Shaw and Dallas Gant.
- Day says he thought "Kevin Wilson was awesome" this week. He thinks Wilson "deserves a lot of credit." Also thinks Fields took another step as a leader.
- Day says he hasn't heard any updates about next week's game against Michigan.
- He says Johnson's title as associate head coach was one of the reasons why he was made the acting head coach. "I think Larry has great leadership. Larry understands how to motivate a team." He says he had a tear in his eye when he got the Gatorade bath.
- "We take a lot of pride in being Buckeyes. There's so much emotion into the season." He says everybody needs to enjoy it "and then we're on to the Team Up North."
- On playing with the absences: "We had to change the game plan up a little bit, but I think the offensive line adjusted well for what we had in the game." He says he's proud of the way the line stepped up.
- He says Harry Miller was "a little bit antsy" on the first drive but settled down. Says whatever he has to do, he did it.
- Fields says he "tried to make something happen with my feet" on his first touchdown.
- I think this week really brought us together as a team." He says the team's leadership "got better this week." ... "It was tough at first, but we all just had to step up and we all had each other."
- On his teammates who couldn't play: "I love those guys. I'd die for them."
- "I don't know if I enjoy initiating contact, but I'm going to do it if I need to." He says he lifts a lot so he thinks his body is "built" for the contact.
- Fields says Ryan Day wasn't on him much about last game's interceptions. "To be honest, those were just dumb mistakes by me last week."
- He says it "kind of felt like I was the coach for offense it times." He says he "actually liked" stepping into a bigger role. Also mentions offensive quality control coach Kennan Bailey did his part.
- Fields on the positive coronavirus tests: "I'm honestly surprised that I didn't get it. I guess it was just God looking out for me."
- On Tyreke Smith: "He's doing really well. We're all working as a unit. Tyreke is using his abilities more to his advantage now."
- On his touchdown interception: "That was big. We had them backed up. We needed to flip the field and just put the field possession back in our hands." He says he was in the "right spot at the right time" with his pick.
- Garrett says he "wasn't really worried" with the backup offensive line. "I've got full faith in our offense that they're going to do their job."
- He says he didn't know Larry Johnson got a Gatorade bath until after the game: "I was like, 'Dang, you smell like Gatorade. They must've got you.'"
- On what his interception meant: "It means a lot. It reassures me that I'm putting the right work in." Says he was happy to change momentum of the game and light a fire for the guys on the sideline.
- On stopping the run: "We really pride ourselves on stopping the run. Our goal is to have under 100 yards a game."
- He says they want to continually reset the bar and raise it.
- Garrett says during walk-throughs on Thursday, he got an interception in practice before his pick on Saturday. "It was pretty wild."
- On his big game: "Really just trusting my coaching and trusting my ability. It was kind of slow the first few games." Says he was able to make the most of his opportunities on Saturday.
- Sermon says this week was "rough," but the coaches told them they have to stay ready. "We always keep our motto just fight."
- Says he was "gradually getting better" and more in sync with the offensive line.
- How he's feeling health-wise: "I feel great. I worked really hard during the offseason. As soon as I got here, I put in tons of work just to make sure I was ready. I'm feeling good."
- He says his explosive run was "very important" for his confidence.
- Sermon says the offensive line "worked really hard to get where they are."