Michigan week is upon us.
Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have one game left on the regular season schedule, which means The Game is rapidly approaching in Ann Arbor. The Ohio State head coach previewed the rivalry matchup at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center at Tuesday's press conference, and Zach Harrison, Haskell Garrett, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Chris Olave followed after that.
Here's a rundown of everything Day and the Buckeyes said as they look ahead to their first meeting with the Wolverines in two seasons.
- Michigan is "significantly different" defensively under Mike Macdonald than under Don Brown. Day says the Wolverines have a more NFL-oriented scheme this season, as opposed to the college-oriented scheme Brown employed.
- Day says playing Craig Young more at cover safety is a "week-to-week" thing, and that his attitude has been "great," which has led to more playing time late in the season.
- On Denzel Burke, Day says "we didn't know he'd be able to make the impact he has so far." Day says he's "very competitive."
- On Hutchinson and Ojabo, Day says they will be a "very big challenge for our tackles and our whole offense." Day says the Buckeyes won't deviate from what they do well just because of their presence, though.
- Day says the young Buckeyes who haven't played in the rivalry game yet understand "what a huge week this is for so many reasons." Day says "we have their attention. Those guys have not played in The Game, though."
- "The best team doesn't win. It's the team that plays the best." Day says "I feel much different than I did 11 weeks ago."
- Day says Cade Kacherski looks like he has "more of a long-term deal," but that Cody Simon's injury does not look like a long-term injury.
- "When you're playing matchup games like this, it comes down to whatever edge you're looking for. ... Whatever it is, you have to find that edge."
- Day says his first year at Ohio State, he would watch the 2016 rivalry game with his son, and that "instantly it became something I wanted to be a part of." Day says "I understand what it means to so many people."
- Day says he tries not to think about the pressure of the situation because it doesn't do him any good.
- On potential bulletin board material, Day says "we certainly don't need extra motivation for games like this." Day says "I don't think we need any more motivation."
- Day says the Buckeyes are hoping to have Emeka Egbuka available for The Game. Day says Julian Fleming wanted to return kicks in Egbuka's absence, and Day believes Fleming has the ability to take one to the house.
- "We always have one eye on them, it's just the way we do business." Day says "you can't be crazy about it, because it can distract from the task at hand during the season."
- "The Game itself isn't any different than playing a game against a really good opponent."
- Day says growing up, Ohio State-Michigan was "just one of those things you always watched."
- Day says the difference in the team's play in the last couple weeks has just been playing "cleaner" and not committing penalties. Day says the run fits have been better as well for the Buckeyes.
- On the Buckeye wide receivers, Day says "they bring different things to the table, but the thing about all of them I appreciate is just their unselfishness."
- "All I can think about is playing this game." Day says he can't get caught up in the historical context of the rivalry too much, because he has a game to win.
- Day says individual college football awards should go to "the best players, not necessarily the best statistics."
DE Zach Harrison
- "I've definitely noticed that my game has gotten better when Tyreke's playing more." Harrison says it's "guaranteed one of us is gonna get one-on-one" blocking when they're both in.
- Harrison says "a batted pass it as good as a sack almost."
- "This game is as big as it can get every single year." Harrison says he doesn't need any added motivation. "The second you walk into this building you know how big this game is."
- Harrison says he knows both Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, and that they're "both good players."
- Harrison says the biggest difference between the Buckeye defense now vs. Week 2 is confidence.
- Harrison says he imagined playing on both sides of the rivalry when he was in high school, but that now he's a Buckeye.
- Harrison says he already knew how big the rivalry was growing up in central Ohio, but that it only means more to him now that he's seen how it impact everyone at Ohio State.
- On the wide receiving corps at Ohio State, Harrison says it could be a top-five unit in the NFL right now.
- Harrison remembers the 2017 game vividly, but says he was trying to be neutral at the time because he was being recruited by both teams.
- "It's the biggest rivalry in all of sports, I think. You just got to feel it. ... It's our job to continue that legacy."
- On Haskell Garrett's impact: "When Haskell made that play, I just felt it." Harrison says the Buckeyes are at their best when they bring energy and are having fun, and says that's what Garrett brings to the team.
- Harrison says he likes being in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium because "you get to be the bad guy."
DT Haskell Garrett
- On how the Buckeyes handled the run against Michigan State, Garrett says he was happy with how detailed Ohio State's approach was. Garrett says Michigan prides itself on running the ball as well.
- "To say it's the same approach as last week, it's not. It's rivalry week and we know how important it is to get this win."
- Garrett says "you never know" who will spark the energy early in a game for the Buckeye defense.
- Garrett says there's "fresh faces that didn't play in this game in 2019." Garrett says "there's a lot of pressure, but we thrive under pressure."
- Garrett says Day tells the team to "play with emotion, don't let emotions play you." Garrett says he will have to focus on keeping his emotions in check as a veteran leader for the Buckeyes.
- "I truly, honestly believe it's the greatest rivalry in sports. I've had peoples' great grandparents talk about this rivalry."
- On his pre-game speech ahead of the Michigan State game, Garrett says he didn't plan it, but that it was in his heart.
- Garrett says it "meant the world to me" to spend quality time with his family in Hawaii for Thanksgiving growing up.
- "It's what you love about Ohio State ... who doesn't want that as a top recruit?" Garrett says the Buckeyes "live under pressure" and "love chaos."
LT Nicholas Petit-Frere
- "They're a great challenge for us this week." Petit-Frere says the offensive line has been prepared for the upcoming matchup by playing some of the nation's top pass rushers over the past few weeks.
- Petit-Frere says he was motivated to go through Senior Day ceremonies because he's going to be graduating soon. Petit-Frere says he's passionate about being the first male in his family to get his college degree, and that walking at Senior Day was a "testament to my mom."
- "I think I played well because the team played well" against Michigan State.
- "Regardless of what they're ranked, this is one of the greatest rivalries in all of sport. It's called The Game for a reason."
- Petit-Frere says the Buckeye defense has done a better job at "becoming one" since the beginning of the season. Petit-Frere says he's seen tight bonds form over the season.
- On trusting Dawand Jones: "He's been starting every game this season." Petit-Frere says he "couldn't imagine him having a better season" in his first as a starter for the Buckeyes.
- "At the end of the day, the only thing that can stop us is ourselves." Petit-Frere says there's been a "heightened sense of focus" on not making mental errors as of late.
- "It's the Team Up North. It's The Game. It's the rivalry." Petit-Frere says he's well aware of the historic nature of the upcoming matchup.
- Petit-Frere says Hutchinson is more of the "more touted" defensive ends in the country, and that he has "great aspirations" beyond college football."
- Petit-Frere says if him or Dawand Jones ever give up a hurry or a sack, "we'll know about it in film."
- Petit-Frere says his confidence in C.J. Stroud hasn't wavered over the course of the season, and that's he's just as confident in him now as he was ahead of the season opener. "Everything he's worked for this entire year is showing up."
- Petit-Frere says he's "still figuring out" whether or not he'll return next year for Ohio State.
- "It's amazing to be a part of the history ... I'm just excited for Saturday."
WR Chris Olave
- On last year's rivalry game being canceled, Olave says "I'm just glad we get to play in it this year."
- Olave says both Ohio State and Michigan recruited him "real hard," but that he didn't get "that deep into it with that school." Olave says he has respect for the Michigan program.
- Olave says the offense is having "a lot more fun spreading the ball around" in recent weeks.
- Olave says his dad wanted to take his record-setting football home with him, but that Olave ended up keeping it with him.
- On his performance in the 2018 Michigan game: "As any freshman, you want to be on the field making plays for your team. For me, it happened in that game."
- Olave says "when we go into a game, the only thing that can stop us is us."
- When somebody says Michigan to him, Olave says "we definitely feel some type of way about them, but we respect them."
- Olave says Michigan is "real good at every position" on defense. "It's gonna be a tough challenge for us, but at the end of the day we have to compete."
- Olave says he "definitely" thought about playing in one last Michigan game when he was considering whether or not to return to Ohio State for a senior season in 2021.
- On his performance in the 2018 rivalry game: "It was huge, it definitely changed the way my career was going. It kind of boosted my confidence a little bit."
- On no OSU WRs being Biletnikoff finalists, Olave says he thinks "all three of us should've been on there," but wasn't surprised that none of them were.
- Olave says he's proud of Jameson Williams, and that "I can't do anything but root for him" at Alabama.